The 2020 Miami International Map Fair, originally scheduled for 13-15 March, has been cancelled. While they don’t blame the COVID-19 outbreak explicitly, it’s of a kind with many other recent event cancellations.
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.
New Haven rare book dealer William Reese died earlier this month at the age of 62; he’d been suffering from prostate cancer. Reese, who founded his eponymous company in 1975, is a familiar name to map collectors; both his first significant sale and his last sale, according to the New York Times obituary, were cartographic in nature. [Tony Campbell]
Much is being made of the sale by Daniel Crouch Rare Books of an original copy of a pictorial map of Prohibition-era Chicago. Published in 1931, A Map of Chicago’s Gangland from Authentic Sources featured the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and other episodes from Chicago’s gang wars and numerous other scenes of rum-running, police corruption and gang activity. So naturally the authorities did their best to suppress the map. The map will be on display at the London Map Fair this weekend; Daniel Crouch is asking £20,000 for it. But if you don’t have that kind of money, other copies do exist in libraries, such as Chicago’s Newberry Library, which I believe has sold facsimile reprints of the map. See coverage from Atlas Obscura, CBS Chicago and the Daily Mail. [Tony Campbell]
Peggy Osher died Tuesday at the age of 88, the Portland Press-Herald reports. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She and her husband, the cardiologist Dr. Harold Osher, who survives her, donated their sizeable map collection to the University of Southern Maine in 1989 and advocated the creation of a dedicated map library; the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education opened in October 1994. Her obituary notes that in 1974 she convinced her husband to buy a map on a trip to London—a decision that escalated, as it often does. The Osher family was profiled in 2011 by Maine magazine. [WMS]
Two things about CityGuide’s beginner’s guide to map collecting. One, it’s not so much for beginners as written by a beginner; the author, Chris Sharp, is recounting his own journey into map collecting. Which brings me to the other thing: what kind of map collecting he’s talking about, which is to say, the “collecting all the OS Landranger maps” kind of map collecting, not the “paying exorbitant sums for a rare and ancient map that might be a forgery or sliced out of a volume from a library’s rare books collection” kind of map collecting. I don’t want to invoke Dunning-Kruger here, but I’m not sure he knows how much more there is out there. I suspect that he’s going to find out. Not being British myself, I don’t know to what extent Ordnance Survey maps are the gateway drug to a serious map collecting jones, but I have my suspicions. [WMS]
Observatory Books of Juneau, Alaska has closed its doors, owing to the illness of its longtime proprietor, the 82-year-old Dee Longenbaugh. (Here’s a profile from 2014.) Observatory Books dealt in antique and rare books and maps; its website includes a primer on map collecting for beginners. [Tony Campbell]
The Miami International Map Fair is just around the corner: it runs from February 5th to 7th. Relatedly, Joseph H. Fitzgerald has just published a short (64 pp.) history of the fair: The Miami Map Fair: The First 20 Years. From the excerpt I saw on Amazon it looks like one of those dry institutional histories, but there are people for whom this will be interesting. [via] Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)