I Am A Cartophile

Yes, I confess it!  I really am a cartophile.  I love maps.  Don’t confuse the word ‘cartophile’ as used by card collectors with that denoting a map lover!  I have since childhood, when I used to pore over the maps in a small atlas.  The older the maps, the better, in some respects, though I also love entirely fictional maps when they’re very well done.   Not only do I love maps, I love drawing them myself.

Fictional maps first intrigued me because of those produced for J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and  The Lord of the Rings.  When I embarked on my own writing, heroic fantasy featured strongly, centred around one world, for which I drew various maps, including one world map in a kind of Mercator projection.  My fantasy novel, when I finish it, will also feature a map.  If you’re interested in fantasy maps, take a look at www.fantasy-map.net!

In my teenage years, I bought a Jackdaw folder of the Battle of Waterloo (sadly, no longer available), and discovered that I also found military maps fascinating, with all those symbols denoting troop positions and movements.  I would say that my favourite book of such maps has to be A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars by Vincent J Esposito and Colonel John R Elting, edited by John R Elting.  It is one of the finest works I’ve encountered on all the European battles in which Napoleon fought, between 1796 and 1815.  The large maps are beautifully clear and illustrate the battles superbly, enabling anybody with an understanding of maps to appreciate the terrain that those battles were fought over.  You can follow the progress from the build up to beyond in each battle.  The history part is equally well written, without the massive clutter of personal opinions and moralising about the character of Napoleon which other books suffer from.  It is a book that I heartily recommend to anybody with an interest in the Napoleonic Era, or even just those with a passion for battle maps.  I would give it ten stars, if I could!

Outside of books, I love the UK’s Ordnance Survey maps, especially the most detailed, and the antique maps commonly found as aged reproductions and usually featuring the fascinating maps of English counties by John Speede, which date from the 17th Century.  I would love to get a large reproduction of Speede’s map of Suffolk, my home county.  The usual versions of his maps are so small that reading the detail is challenging.

Are there any other cartophiles out there?

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

27 thoughts on “I Am A Cartophile

  1. Since I’m a truck driver to use maps a lot. not so much now because I have the GPS, but there are still times I need to go back to the map just to double checked something her to find a different route

    • my wife always referred to me as her ‘SatNav’ 😀 I used to do the navigating while she drove. We only got a real Satnav a couple of years ago, and we tend to use it mostly for ‘close-in’ work – in towns and such, where road atlases don’t go into fine enough detail 🙂

  2. LOVE maps! Don’t have SatNav so rely on roadmaps and streetmaps all the time. Love plotting out routes: for instance, when we did the John o’Groats to Lands End trip I’m currently sharing on my blog…see under ‘Cycling’ on the menu bar cicampbellblog.wordpress.com
    Also love, when meet someone new, pinpointing their home in my Atlas. Some pages are measled with crosses and names. X marks the spot….

    • Good to hear, Christine 🙂 We never go anywhere that you can get streetmaps for, though 🙂 If it’s big enough for them, it’s too big for us LOL! I’ll take a look at your cycling trip 😉

      I have an aversion to marking any kind of book 😉 If not, I doubt I’d be able to read directions on some pages in an atlas 😀


      • I’m afraid I do mark books. I view many of them as workbooks in my never ending education in life, writing, the world around me…everything. Like yourself, I have been incapacitated by ill health, so I can’t do all that I’d like to do…instead, I read and write about the things I can and I learn about the rest.
        Also, if I particularly enjoy a phrase, a sentence, a passage, I like to mark it to help me find it again to enjoy over & over. Far from being insulted if I mark a book, the author should hope to find it well-thumbed and notated. I’d view it as a compliment if mine were.
        I have two published novels (see under ‘Books’ on my blog menu, if interested to see what they’re about) and I’d love to find them on someone’s bookshelf in the condition of my favourite books 🙂

      • Good point. I hate to see pristine toys – they should be well-loved, played with, dented and dinged 🙂

        Perhaps I associated it with the scarcity of books in my childhood, and the fact that we could only ever afford used ones. That and a fear that it was the first step to the undoubted evil of burning books. Silly, of course. Fortunately, I never had to do any more than lay claim to ownership by putting my name on a blank fly leaf 😉 That’s another benefit of the digital age – you can have all those bookmarks and marginal annotations without ever harming some poor, innocently grazing book LOL!

        Having just received my first two books to ever be in print, I think I’d kill anybody who harmed them LOL! They are so perfect, and shiny, and…. 😀

      • I don’t think of annotations as being damaging to my books, but, rather, like laughter lines on a well-kent face! Adding character to beauty.

    • Thanks Nicholas 🙂 Online maps are the pits! Before we got SatNav, we tried to use Google Maps to find a place – and it tried to send us through a brick wall in the opposite direction we needed to go!

  3. I love reading geographical maps because they are quiet (unlike the too-talkative GPS), land me where I want to be, and dazzle me with more inviting places to explore.

    • Very true, Jet 🙂 My wife often has arguments with the SatNav LOL! And, in that case, you may well be like me in another way – passing that narrow lane you’ve never ravelled and wondering…. 😉

  4. Like you, Steve, I’m a cartophile (thanks for the new term). I have a drawer full of OS maps of all kinds — Routemaster, Outdoor Leisure, Landranger, National Parks. These date from my cycling trips in the UK (I envy Christine her John O’Groats-Land’s End trip — it’s on my to-do list). I use them these days to follow travel writers’ routes (and Ransome’s Death & Glories through the Norfolk Broads). For a while, the Yorkshire Dales maps were on my wall at work — inspiration and memory in 2-D.
    Manguel & Guadalupi’s Dictionary of Imaginary Places is a convenient compendium of all fantasy maps, and Karen W Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-Earth is always at my side whenever I reread Tolkien.

    • Wonderful, Lizzie! And you’re very welcome 😉 I have a collection of footpath maps for local areas, all hand drawn by a local man and with some fascinating information on them 🙂 My pride and joy in OS maps was one of the Peak District National Park. I never went on long cycle rides but I walked distances that made my friends feel faint LOL! That’s another thing about real maps – they can evoke memories. I can’t see that happening with SatNav and online maps 😉

      I’ll have to look up the Dictionary – thanks 🙂 I’m afraid I don’t really need an atlas of Middle-Earth – I have it memorised LOL.

      • Steve — I have Middle Earth memorized as well, but I love the visual experience of tracking hobbits, elves, dwarves, men, wizards, et alia through Tolkien’s vast empire.

      • There is that 🙂 I used to have Pauline Baynes’ map as a poster on the wall, until I got married, and I admit my eye would slip over to the latest location the books mentioned 🙂

    • In our younger years, my husband and I cycled all over Scotland, Youth Hosteling. Now, I have to content myself with being the backup crew in the car. Upside is that I get plenty time with the map! I hope you get the chance to do the J o’G to LE run, Lizzie. As you’ll see from my blog, it was fun and interesting. And we both still feel a great sense of accomplishment.

      • I had trouble cycling across town LOL! Now, I’ve got four wheels and a far more comfy seat 😉 And there’s the car for longer journeys! 🙂

      • I now have to be in a three or four wheel scooter when shopping or such and, I agree, far more comfortable seat! I was in a shopping mall recently, had a few things to pick up and not much time to do it in, so, since the mall was quiet, I upped the speed and went for it. A few days later, one of my friends asked if that could have been me who was in the mall at such and such a time. “I thought it was you,” she said. “It looked like your hair, blowing out behind you!” I really didn’t think those things went that fast! 🙂

      • Me too, if I can get hold of one (mine needs new batteries but they’re so expensive!).

        LOL! Now that I can believe! 😀 I caught the speed control on one in a small town centre once – nearly ran over three people before I could get it under control! The first time I used one, though, I took out one of those vertical, rotary display stands in a shop LOL CDs everywhere 😀

      • Yes, I took out a whole rail of kids’ clothing one time. Ah, the joys! What fun!
        Nice to meet a fellow scooterer 🙂

      • Scotland and Yorkshire have been my favorite places to cycle — mostly the tough climbs to the tops of moors (not so much the actual climb; rather, getting to the top with the views).

      • The thought of actually pedalling up those slopes makes my legs ache LOL! I’d love to visit Scotland, but that’s not going to happen. We cut through Yorkshire when we came home from a holiday in Morecambe. Lovely countryside, but I’m glad we had a car 😀

  5. I only ever cycled in Scotland when we were young, but must say, cycling through places like the Wye Valley looked very inviting when I was comfortably in the car as hubby’s domestique, Lizzie. Parts of Yorkshire too. In fact, there were so many great parts of the country, I’d be hard pushed to choose where if I had the chance of cycling one last time.

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