Thursday, February 28, 2008


I have written in previous posts about "imaginary countries" or "geofictional projects" such as Quastolia or Alphistia that started out in our back yards.

In Weslandia, a children's picture story book written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, we are introduced to Wesley, a boy who just doesn't seem to "fit in" with other children his age. So, as a summer project, he plants a garden that eventually blooms into his own little country in the back yard.

For Weslandia, Wesley has created his own language, foods, games, industry and cash crops. Soon he becomes the envy of all the other kids in the neighborhood. In my experience, any time I shared stories with my friends about Quastolia, all I got were queer looks... but good for Wesley!

The only thing lacking in this amusing children's tale is a good map! However, it is a clever story about a boy that creates his own country, and that deserves mention.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saint Lenin

My friend Victoria recently returned from a holiday in Prague. While she was there she visited the Museum of Communism:
The museum focuses on the totalitarian regime from the February coup in 1948 to its rapid collapse in November 1989. The theme of the Museum is "Communism- the Dream, the Reality, and the Nightmare" and visitors will be treated to a fully immersive experience.
I wish I could see this museum for myself. However, she brought back this ironic postcard:

Actually, the ironic part is the notation on the back of the card, giving the address of the museum:

"Na Prikope 10, 110 00 Praha 1... Above McDonald's, next to Casino"

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Path to the White House Leads Through Ohio

In the 2004 United States Presidential Election, Ohio was one of the "battleground" states. George Bush's victory in the state was by only 2.11%. The Next President of the United States will likely need to win Ohio to achieve an electoral victory. On March 4, Hillary Clinton will need to win Ohio to continue her quest for the Democratic nomination against Barack Obama.

To help Clinton, Obama and McCain find their way around the state, I recommend one of these handy Ohio map T-shirts from my collection.

Important Ohio facts:

Ohio was the 17th state to enter the Union, in 1803.

In 1836, Ohio lost the Ohio-Michigan War, thus being obliged to keep Toledo.

Seven presidents were born in Ohio, making it second to Virginia's eight.

Ohio is known as the "Buckeye State", however, never eat a real buckeye nut, as they are poisonous.

The State Fossil of Ohio is the trilobite.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Canary Islands

I have recently begun trading postcards with other map postcard collectors. The first three cards below are from Héctor, a resident of the Canary Islands, an "Autonomous Community" of Spain, consisting of seven islands.

Contrary to popular belief, the islands were not named after the avian canary. Instead the name comes from the breed of large fierce dogs, the Canary Mastiff (in Spanish, el Presa Canario) that were already present when the ancient Romans established contact with the islands by the sea. The Latin word for dog is canis. The breed of birds were named after the islands...

The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. The Canaries receive about 10 million tourists per year. Who wouldn't want to vacation under such a friendly looking sun?

Héctor has begun publishing his own blog, Colección de MAPAS en tarjetas postales, to highlight the map postcards from his own collection. The text is in Spanish, but the images of the map postcards are always interesting.

When I first began correspondence with Héctor I said that I did not have any map postcards from the Canary Islands, but after more searching I rediscovered these two cards that were sent to me by some British friends who like to spend their holidays there:

  • According to Tim Ashkar, the women of the islands are mermaids. I find the story a little fishy.

  • Christopher Columbus stopped at the Canaries on his way to re-discover the New World in 1492.

  • The cuisine of Canary Islands combines traditional Spanish recipes with african and latin-american influences.

  • In 1936, Francisco Franco was appointed General Commandant of the Canaries. He joined the military revolt of July 17 which began the Spanish Civil War.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Didn't You Tell Me?

Since I began this blog in September, I have had the same Title, Subtitle, and description in place:

Cartophilia: Maps and Map Memorabilia
Stamps, postcards, advertising, coffee mugs, shirts, and other emphemera. I love maps, and maps as an element of design.

However, just this evening, Mrs. Cartophiliac pointed out that I misspelled the word ephemera...


Why didn't you all tell me sooner?

How embarassing.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Super McCain

The UK's Economist weekly newsmagazine gave their cover story over to John McCain's Super Tuesday triumph within the United States Republican Party.

The cover features a comic strip in the shape of the United States. Scenes include:
  • The "start" of the race before 2006

  • The Dash for Cash

  • Iowa & New Hampshire

  • The Debates as boxing match

  • Giuliani and Edwards get "trashed"

  • Hillary tells Bill to "hush"

  • Opinion polls go haywire

  • Obama get the Oprah endorsement

  • McCain bursts out of Super Tuesday as the Super Republican Candidate

  • Clinton and Obama continue to wrestle for the title of Super Democrat

  • To Be Continued...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wisconsin: The Badger State

In honor of the Wisonsin Primary, today, I present the two Wisconsin map postcards from my collection:

I lived briefly (less than two years) in Ripon, Wisconsin. "Birthplace of the Republican Party". In spite of that, I truly enjoyed living in the state.

  • For up-to-date info on the Wisconsin Primary visit Wisconsin Votes.

  • For cartographic analysis of the Wisconsin Primary, visit The Electoral Map.

  • Wisconsin, the "Badger State", was the 30th state to enter the Union.

  • Wisconsin is known for its German heritage and many breweries. Purchase a copy of The Wisconsin Beer Guide to find your way around.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Kosovo Independence - New Flag

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on February 17. At the same time they unveiled their new offical flag: a gold map of Kosovo on a blue field beneath six white stars.

According to The Balkan Travellers, the new flag is "reminiscent of the European flag... The colours are said to represent Kosovo’s aspirations towards Europe and the EU, while the stars symbolise the ethnic communities that inhabit the province – the Albanian majority and the five minorities: Roma Egyptians and Ashkali, collectively known as RAE; Bosniak; Gorani; Turk; and the largest one – the Serbs."

Good luck to the Kosovars and their new country, however, when it comes to flag design, they may already be off to a bad start, as they have violated Rule 2 of Josh Parson's Rules of Flag Design, "Do not put a map of your country on your flag".

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Transit Maps of the World

I've been waiting for months, and I finally got my hands on a copy of Transit Maps: The World's First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth, by Mark Ovenden. This work is a comprehensive collection of historic and current maps of every rapid-transit system on earth. With all of its colorful graphics, it makes a beautiful coffee-table book for travel and graphic design enthusiasts.

Major cities all over the globe are included. Here is an example from Tokyo:

Also included, this fanciful map of a world united by a single transit system:

The history of the London Underground can be charted by the succession of user maps that were produced through the last century:

From my collection, two postcards of the London Underground showing some growth of the extended lines:

1985circa 1995

Below are the other two transit map postcards from my collection:

Trade offers for for additional transit map postcards are always welcome.

For additional fun with transit maps, see my earlier post.

Finally, this transit map representation of Eustace Tilley. This map was one of the winners in a contest where artists were invited to create new versions of the mascot of the New Yorker Magazine.

Eustace Tilley Subway”, by Alberto Forero, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Democratic Dream Mug

Happy Birthday to me.

My birthday present to me is this coffee mug. Starting with the 2004 electoral map, I can watch every red Rebublican state turn Democrat blue while I enjoy my favorite hot beverage.

I ordered mine from The Funny Times, however, you can find it online from many other fine Internet merchants, including and (the latter includes a flash animation of the mug's tranformation).

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yo Ho Ho! A Developer's Life For Me

A recent issue of Microsoft's Visual Studio Magazine included this fold out map for the board game, "A Developer's Life for Me". The mechanics of the game (roll and move) are less important than the clever illustrations.

Yo Ho Ho! Developing code on the high seas is a dangerous adventure...

Just when you think you have an interesting project, with a reasonable timetable, you run into the "Island of Boss's Folly"

Or even worse... a dreaded "Meeting With Suits"!

The Microsoft Visual Studio system is a suite of development tools for creating console and GUI applications along with Windows Forms applications, web sites, web applications, and web services.

You can download and print your own copy of the game here.

Thanks to Hunter for sending this map to me.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be My Cartographic Valentine

Happy Cartographic Valentine's Day...

From PostSecret, an ongoing community art project where people mail
in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.

From mediatinker, an artist, writer, filmmaker, photographer, web guru, general know-it-all, or empress of everything.

From The European Heart, a sculpture project by Anton Krajnc.

From Ernest Dudley Chase, A Pictorial Map of Loveland (1943), as seen in You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon

From Art By the Yard, devoted to paper, fiber and book arts, the materials that comprise them and the artists who pursue them!

From Find Croatia, a web site dedicated to travellers and visitors to Croatia.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quastolia - The Later Years

Quastolia - The Early Years
Quastolia - The Middle Years

Eventually, Bill and I found developing our "ant countries" within the existing geography of our hometowns to be too constricting. All we could do was redraw borders in between the existing lakes and rivers. Fortunately for us, a strange spatial-temporal rift descended upon Aqceyquas, and after the dust settled, we found ourselves in a new world.

A section of a map of the new world by Bill:

The surviving residents of Quastolia and Ceygolia began the careful exploration of our new world, cleverly called "Neworld". We also conveniently dropped the notion of ants and other insects as our citizens, and proceeded to world building like our favorite fantasy and science fiction writers.

Somewhere along the line, the reconstituted nation of Quastolia became known as the Protected United Kingdom of Quastolia, with its unfortunate acronym, "PUKQ". I assume my teenaged sense of humor found that amusing.

Two of my maps of the PUKQ:

Development of our "ant countries" continued on and off throughout high school and our first year of college, whenever we felt the urge to draw a map, or write a history or heroic saga. Later, when playing Dungeons & Dragons, it was very easy for me to create a new world for use as Dungeon Master.

Another of Bill's maps. He was always a better artist:

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Crossing the Rubicon

Earlier, I wrote about my experiences in the Diplomacy Hobby, as a gamer and a zine publisher. This t-shirt was given to me as a wedding present by a couple of my old Dip buddies, Scott and "Goz". I suppose I could wear it to a tournament and not need a conference map...

Back when I was publishing my Diplomacy zine, Crossing the Rubicon, my friend, Bill Williams, designed this logo for me. I share it here because, knowing my love of maps, he incorporated an antique globe into the design. Bill had a special color printer that could make t-shirt iron-on transfers. Unfortunately, we forgot to reverse the image... so we printed it again and put the mistake on the back of the shirt:

I am using the old zine name, and the logo Bill designed, for a new blog I started last month. Crossing the Rubicon is primarily my boardgaming log, but I may get around to other articles about boardgames, and reprinting my old zines.

UPDATE: I later decided one blog is enough...

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Dungeons & Dragons

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend a day boardgaming at The Arsenal Game Room in Indianapolis. The clever folks here have combined a game store with a café. Good food and good games. What more could you ask for?

While I was there I met Craig Johnson of Campaign Adventures. His company makes large (36x48 inches) laminated maps designed for use in Dungeons & Dragons adventure campaigns; on the surface or down below...

Gather your Elven Mage, Dwarf Fighter, and Halfling Thief minatures and begin the plunder...

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS

As noted, I am not a cartographer, nor a geographer. In fact I have drawn very few maps since Quastolia... However, I appreciate well designed maps, and John Krygier and Denis Wood have produced a useful guide for amateurs, professionals and students: Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS.

Before they even get into the mechanics of how to make a map, the first chapters focus on what is a map and why they are powerful tools?
  • Why are you making a map?
  • Your intentions shape the form of the map.
  • Determine the data appropriate for your map.
  • Determine the tools you will use.
Next they provide useful information and tips on layout, symbolization and use of fonts and color. Instead of writing about maps, and working some illustrations around their text, they focus on images of maps, with many examples, illuminated by their text.

I appreciated the many illustrated examples of not only good map design, but a few bad ones as well:

Many of the illustrations are entertaining as well as informative:

Krygier, an Associate Professor of Geography at Ohio Wesleyan University, continues to offer tips and advice on his blog, Making Maps: DIY Cartography. There he outlines his intent:
I designed the book like I would design a map. The audience? Cartography courses, maybe as a supplement, GIS courses, certainly as a supplement, and individuals who make maps (or like maps) but don’t have a background in cartography, and don’t want to be academic cartographers. Then what? Coherent concept, a hierarchy of content emphasizing what is important and excising the rest, creative design to grab attention and make a point, all so that the book works as well as possible for its readers.

Making Maps is an accessible introduction to the principles of mapmaking that will lead to creative and useful maps for most purposes.

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