JSTOR Daily interviews P. J. Mode, the map collector (and donor) behind Cornell University Library’s P. J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography. Mode began collecting maps in 1980, and proceeded in the usual manner until stumbling across what would become his niche.
When I was looking at those maps in dealers’ shops or catalogs, I often saw other maps that I thought were fun and interesting. I didn’t quite understand them all—unusual maps, strange maps of different kinds. The kind of maps that dealers refer to as “cartographic curiosities” (which basically means, “This doesn’t fit into one of my pigeon-holes…”). These were kind of fun and interesting, and they were inexpensive so, on a lark, I would buy them when I saw them and then I would kind of try to figure out what they were.