U.S. Coast Guard Okays Electronic Charts

In a circular distributed earlier this month (PDF), the U.S. Coast Guard sets out rules allowing mariners to use electronic charts instead of paper charts to fulfil the requirements of keeping charts on board a vessel.  “Due to the current state of technology, the Coast Guard believes that official electronic charts provide substantially more information to the mariner, and therefore may enhance navigational safety beyond that of official paper charts.” Commenters on the Practical Sailor’s Facebook page are by and large skeptical. [via]

Mitchell’s New General Atlas (1860)


mitchells-coverA facsimile of Mitchell’s New General Atlas, first published in 1860 by August Mitchell Jr. with hand-coloured maps, is now available from Schiffer Publishing. “This reproduction of Mitchell’s New General Atlas restores all 76 maps from the original plus its 26 pages of geological, statistical, and geographic information from 1860. Included are intriguing looks at the political boundaries of the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, as well as maps of other countries and regions that look vastly different today.” Press release. [via] Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

A 19th-Century Tactile Map

L. R. Klemm, Relief Practice Map: Roman Empire (New York, 1894), 29 × 32 cm. Scale 1:20,000,000. The Library of Virginia.

L. R. Klemm’s Relief Practice Map: Roman Empire (above) is an example of the printed tactile maps used to teach sighted and blind students alike during the nineteenth century. [via]

Most of the maps for blind and visually impaired users I’ve encountered to date are of modern provenance. Previously on The Map RoomJoshua Miele’s Tactile MapsA View of Prague for the BlindVirtual 3D Maps for the BlindMaps for the Visually ImpairedMaps and Directions for the BlindOnline Maps for the Visually Impaired.


The Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Cartographic), available as a PDF file (direct link), “provides instructions for cataloging rare cartographic materials, that is, cartographic materials of any age or type of production receiving special treatment within a repository.” This is a substantial, technical document (364 pages), mainly of interest to librarians with rare and old maps under their care.

With an increased focus on the security of rare cartographic materials, DCRM(C) addresses the need for a stand-alone set of rules that covers the treatment of atlases, maps, and globes, both printed and manuscript, including the analysis of cartographic works in books or other resources, and can be used by any institution that houses these materials. The creation of a standard eliminates the need for each institution to develop extensive local practices for the treatment of rare cartographic works, and makes it possible for institutions with smaller collections to benefit from both the sophisticated tradition of rare materials cataloging and the awareness of the cartographic community of the particular qualities of our materials.


Copper Plates Used to Make Topo Maps on Display


The Michigan State University Map Library now has on display three copper plates used to make the 1912 USGS topographic map of the Lansing, Michigan area. “From the 1880s to the 1950s, the U.S. Geological Survey used engraved copper plates in the process of printing topographic and geographic quadrangle maps. Copper alloy engraving plates were inscribed with a mirror image of the points, contour lines, symbols, and text that constitute a topographic map. Each plate was inscribed with details for a single color of ink.” [via]

Maine Reacts to DeLorme’s Acquisition by Garmin

Local Maine media is reacting to the news that Garmin is buying DeLorme, which is based in Yarmouth. Here’s coverage from the Portland Press Herald, which notes that the Maine headquarters will be maintained, but the map store will close. (Eartha will continue to be open to the public.) There is no news about the future of DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, the paper-based product that started DeLorme off in 1976, which is worrying the Bangor Daily News’s outdoors editor John Holyoke.

The Ordnance Survey’s Map Return Scheme

The Ordnance Survey is currently running a map return scheme, in which customers send in their old maps in return for a voucher up to £15. It runs until March 20, but they’ve already received 9,000 maps so far. (A similar scheme in 2014 yielded 10,000 maps in total.) Some of the maps returned date back to the early 1900s. (I hope the OS makes sure they’ve got a complete set of everything; it wouldn’t do to give away the the last copy of an obscure older edition for an art project. If nothing else there’s an opportunity for a crowdsourced archive here.)

The Hereford Mappa Mundi … in Spaaaaaace!

A copy of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, brought to the International Space Station by British astronaut Tim Peake, turned up on Twitter yesterday. BBC News has the details. [via]

Esri’s Solar System Atlas


Esri’s Solar System Atlas collects maps of all the planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids and comets that have been visited by spacecraft in one location. (At least the ones with solid surfaces.) Now keep in mind that  maps of other objects in the solar system are generally spacecraft imagery stitched together into a mosaic and displayed on a map projection, and this is mostly what is presented here (plus some colourized topographic maps and a few geologic maps). Not many of the maps are labelled, which is a shame: bare imagery isn’t terribly useful. Also, the map tiles load slowly, and zooming out doesn’t always refresh them. But as a concept, I’m all for this. More from Esri’s Matt Artz. [via]

Jane Hunter’s Textile Maps

Jane Hunter, Above the Firth of Clyde, n.d. Harris Tweed, 38.5×56 cm.

Jane Hunter is a Scottish artist who makes maps from textiles. Contour lines and patterns evincing geological maps are prevalent in her work. Her pieces, as she puts it, “combine free motion embroidery and appliqué with materials of thread and Harris Tweed. The delicately balanced mix of colour and shades in the cloth, taken directly from nature and flecked through the wool, provides me the perfect palette to represent the land.” Giclée prints of the original pieces are available. [via]


The End of Maps in Seven Charts

Here’s a short talk from last year by Washington Post graphics editor Darla Cameron, who points out that many maps actually show population density rather than the data they purport to show. “Just because you have geographic data, that doesn’t mean that a map is a best way to tell the story.” She offers some alternative ways to present information—non-cartographic ways—that in some cases do a better job than a map could. (Heretical, I know.) In a similar vein, read the blog post by Matthew Ericson that she refers to at the end of the talk: “When Maps Shouldn’t Be Maps.” [via]

Garmin Is Buying DeLorme

Garmin has announced that it is buying Maine-based GPS manufacturer DeLorme. “Garmin will retain most of the associates of DeLorme and will continue operations at its existing location in Yarmouth, Maine following the completion of the acquisition. The Yarmouth facility will operate primarily as a research and development facility and will continue to develop two-way satellite communication devices and technologies. Financial terms of the purchase agreement and acquisition will not be released.” (Presumably that means that Eartha won’t be moved to Olathe.)

Previously: Big Eartha; DeLorme’s Early History; DeLorme Profiled.