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19th Century Carto. Text Placement

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#1
Justin

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I was with some family members at an antique store here in Texas and they were selling old maps (dated 1870s - 1920s). I'm sure you've seen where maps taken as pages from old atlases will be sold individually...

I was asked how the type was placed on the old maps, and I wasnt sure.

Many of them had labels that were angled or curved. I imagine, when a book is printed, that the letters can be placed into racks and then pressed down for each page. Were maps made as engraved plates , where someone would have carved each letter? or were the maps drawn and then a type layer pressed again on top?

I havent been able to find any information on how maps were created in the days before computers, but after the days when each would have been individually drawn by hand. The time period when large atlases were printed and commonly available. Any links or information would be awesome, thank you!

#2
dsl

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Here is an online book about Antique Maps that will provide some information:

Antique Maps

Also, this is a list of sites about collecting Antique Maps that sometimes provide information about how they were created.

http://www.maphistor...collecting.html

Good luck,
David

#3
Justin

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Ahh thank you.

I have read most of the first link, and several of the links on the second, although the closest I could get to my time period was about 1830, nothing really mass produced. I will look at some more of the materiel here, thank you again!


Here is an online book about Antique Maps that will provide some information:

Antique Maps

Also, this is a list of sites about collecting Antique Maps that sometimes provide information about how they were created.

http://www.maphistor...collecting.html

Good luck,
David



#4
Charles Syrett

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I haven't read any of those books, but I can tell you what I know from experience, as well as what I was taught in the early days of my career. My first job was at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, creating mostly geological and topographic maps in the pre-digital scribe/peel/stickup days. The maps that my supervisors did before type stickup were drawn by hand in pen and ink. Lettering was by hand, using crow quill pens. During the 1950s, the transition was made to type stickup. (Scribing replaced ink drawing shortly afterward.)

This transition would have happened at different times in different organizations. But the point is that hand lettering went on well into the 20th century. I doubt that there was any typeset labeling at all in the 1800s.

Charles Syrett
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#5
Justin

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Thank you very much Charles!

If you don't mind, when you say - hand lettering - would the method for that primarily be freehand? or perhaps with a stencil, or a leroy lettering set of some kind? (I guess 'scribing' would mean the latter)

#6
Charles Syrett

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Hand lettering was done in different ways, depending on the kind of map and the organization doing it. In the Ontario government, it was done literally by hand and eye, using pen and ink. If you look closely at any of those old maps, and compare instances of any letter (say, lower case "e"), you will see tiny variations -- indicating that the lettering was done by hand, rather than typeset.

Also, each cartographer had his (or her, though it was very much a "man's world" back then) own style or idiosyncrasies, such that the cartographer of a given map could be identified by anyone who was familiar enough with these style differences. The same thing went for symbols, such as swamp symbols, which were always drawn by hand. B)

Leroy lettering was typically done for more industrial kinds of maps, including mining maps and large scale topographic maps. Such maps were almost always simple black line drawings, although occasionally stick-on tones and patterns were used (zip-a-tone and letratone were popular brands), and sometimes colour was used as well. Leroy was almost always done with pens, but it was often scribed as well.

For your amusement, I've attached a piece of a map done in the leroy/stick-on-pattern style, drawn by yours truly in 1973, using ruling pen, contour pen, drop compass, and leroy (ink). :rolleyes:

Charles Syrett
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http://www.mapgraphics.com

Attached Files



#7
Matthew Hampton

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That's a great high quality sample of work from yesteryear Charles! Well done.

I think Justin's initial interest was in the pre-Leroy lettering days. In the mid 1800's they were still hand engraving copper plates (in reverse). Interestingly, it was a cartographer (whose detailed work the engravers in NY couldn't reproduce) who created the first half-tone press. A Baron by the name of Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein did amazing shaded relief (the first in the US) which required the use of a tight screen.

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#8
Justin

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I currently work in GIS/land records, I should go to the back storeroom and see if there are any of the old tools still around. You know, government offices never throw out anything.

Thank you very much for all of the information and the sample. It would be interesting to have a comprehensive work on the more recent history of North American cartography available, the free oil company road maps and mass produced atlases, etc.


For your amusement, I've attached a piece of a map done in the leroy/stick-on-pattern style, drawn by yours truly in 1973, using ruling pen, contour pen, drop compass, and leroy (ink). :rolleyes:



#9
Dennis McClendon

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In between hand-lettering and stickup of phototype was wax engraving. In this process, lines could be scribed or laid down with stippling rollers, and raised-metal type could be stamped into the wax surface (even using curved holders) to give high-quality text. The wax would then be used to create a printing plate, by various methods of metal deposition and electrotyping. This process was quite common in the US in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and almost certainly is how your old atlas maps were created. See David Woodward's 1977 book The All-American Map: Wax Engraving and Its Influence on Cartography.

Here's a short description (with pictures) of how it was done.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#10
david17tym

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Hi Charles,

Beautiful piece of work - takes me back (admitedly not 1973) to when I started.

Dave

#11
natcase

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Thank you very much for all of the information and the sample. It would be interesting to have a comprehensive work on the more recent history of North American cartography available, the free oil company road maps and mass produced atlases, etc.


Your wish is the History of Cartography Project's command. Volume 6 of the History of Cartography is in editorial process as we speak. See a series of ecploratory essays here. I'm also really looking forward to this coming out (sometime in my lifetime)!

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#12
dsl

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I just came across this and thought of this post. It is from 1911 but would probably still be applicable. It is a handbook of map making, and includes a section on the process of mapmaking from the time period by the Royal Geographical Society. It is available free to read online through the open library.

http://openlibrary.o..._and_map-making

Cheers,
David

#13
David Medeiros

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Just to add to the compendium of cartographic type laying minutia... in a mix of incoming and outgoing technology in the 90's the cartographers at CSAA who still worked on our scribe coat maps would place type by printing the required words and letters on out inkjet, shoot to film in the dark room (positives or possibly print the negative to thin film) then meticulously cut out and place each word on one of the many layers of film that went into a single map. If the type was for a curved feature the word was broken up and each letter was placed (perfectly) by hand.

All of this serves to remind me that I could never have been a cartographer without computers, Illustrator and direct to print services. I have an ok cartographic design sense, but I do not posses cartographic patience!

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#14
Charles Syrett

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David, what you say about "patience" is a relative term that softens continually over time. Whenever I find myself bristling over what modern cartos refer to as "tedious" tasks (such as actually drawing using digital tools, which is easy easy easy), I like to remember what the seniors back in the day used to tell us about pen-and-ink drawing (the sample of my own work I posted here would have been an embarrassment to them). They, in turn, would have been humbled by their old-timer stories about etching, in reverse (i.e., mirror-image) on stone (or was it metal?). Whenever we would ask, "what if they made a mistake?", the stock reply was "they didn't make mistakes". B)

Who knows what mapmaking will be like in another 30 years or so? Maybe they'll just talk to the monitor (lying on cushions, of course) and watch a gorgeous map draw itself before their very eyes. And they'll be awestruck by the "patience" of cartos back at the turn of the century, who actually had to endure the tedium of using a keyboard and mouse.... :)

Charles Syrett
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