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.
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]
NPR and the Washington Post report a fascinating story of how a rare atlas was identified in an unlikely fashion: being posted to Reddit. Last month, reference librarian Anders Kvernberg stumbled across an uncatalogued atlas in the vaults of the National Library of Norway. He could make out that it was an Ottoman atlas from 1803, but not much more than that, since he couldn’t read Ottoman Turkish. He did scan and post one of its maps to Reddit, where Redditors went to work translating the text. Then, a couple of weeks later, another Redditor posted an Ottoman map of Africa, which was identified as part of the Cedid Atlas (Cedid Atlas Tercümesi), published in Istanbul in 1803. The Library of Congress has a copy, which it acquired in 1998, digitized, and put online. Kvernberg went and looked—and, he says, “started recognising the scans. Then I realized this was the very same atlas I had held in my hands a few weeks earlier.” The Cedid Atlas was rare: only 50 were printed, and only 14 were known to be held in public institutions. It turns out that the National Library of Norway has the 15th. [via]
On New Year’s Eve The Arts Newspaper reported on the British Library’s efforts to digitize the 50,000 maps and plans that make up the King George III Topographical Collection. (George III was apparently quite the map collector, one not above choosing not to return maps he borrowed.) They’re about a quarter of the way through so far. The collection’s crown jewel, so to speak, is the ludicrously large (176 × 231 cm) Klencke Atlas.