If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Not one of my maps.

I love books, but I LOVE maps. I think my favourite book in skool was the Philips World Atlas that we had to buy if we were going to do Geography. I used to pass whole lessons, while everyone else was memorising the populations of the mining towns of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, staring at the coastline of Northern Russia wondering how cold it would be, or the inlets of the St Lawrence Seaway, thinking about the passing ships and the noise. It gave me a burning urge to travel, which I still haven't satisfied.

In my last post, I said I had 'inherited' a lot of maps from my ex. In this post, I suppose I am asking for advice as to what to do with them. OK, what have we got?
  • Some of those lovely Bartholomew's half-inch maps which are so good for cycling - the reason I got them, but they all date from 1977-1985 or so,
  • Some older 2½" OS maps of the pretty bits of England such as the Lakes,
  • Lots of the very detailed Michelin maps of bits of France,
  • Touring maps of assorted European countries, mainly Italy and Austria.
Lots more, but those are the main categories. All in good nick. And there are also some curious 30s/40s/50s 'tourist guides' to popular areas of the UK. Here's my problem. I can't keep them, as I already have shelves groaning with OS maps of all the areas I have ever been in this country, and space has considerable rarity value in Nowhere Towers. I can''t put them in the bin, as that would be sacrilege. But I can't see myself ever using them. For one thing, they are all well out of date now, and yet not old enough to be of antiquarian interest, and I tend to update things like road atlases on a regular basis, just because I hate getting lost (and in an attempt to keep up with the French system of random rotation of road numbers). For another, I would only use them for general planning, as I use a satnav for actual riding/driving, at least for long journeys. And for planning I use Google Maps more often than anything else, as it is both convenient and bang up to date.

So what do I do, O most wise ones? Bin the outdated modern stuff and eBay the curiosities? Car boot the lot at 50p a pop? Succumb to cowardice and put them all in a box in the garage (so that I can throw them out with a clear conscience once they have deteriorated enough from the damp)? Have a bonfire and stop stressing about it? Leave them where they are and 'deal with them later', i.e. have the same problem in a year's time?

Any guidance gratefully received.


  1. Agreed: binning 'em is out of the question.

    Haven't you got a corner of the loft that you could 'lose them' for 20 years or so?

    The detail & info on the OS maps always was amazing. You could have a compare-session on Google Earth to discover how parts of the world have changed.

    If you have to dispose of them - Car-Boot-Sale them. Whoever bothers to buy them will at least do so to get some use out of them. Or, has space & descendents to bequeath them as future antiquarian curiosities.

  2. Thank you, Joe. I suspect that a Car Boot thing might be the answer. I have checked on eBay, and even the proper old cloth maps are only fetching 99p or so, so selling them that way would be far more trouble than it is worth. I suspect I will have a lot of books to move on before too long, so this might be the answer there too. I have never done a CBS before, so that will be a new experience.

    Not proper books, by the way. Danielle Steele and the like, if I can ever persuade Anna to part with them :)

  3. I wish I hadn't thrown out some older Imperial O/S maps - they had pre Beeching railway lines on them which are now missing from the later editions. Fortunately I can still remember where most of them went, and it's possible to pick out the road crossings etc, to draw a line. Of course many tracks have now become roads & bypasses.

  4. Microdave, stop it! I want a way to get rid of them, not a reason to keep them :)

    One thrill of old maps, just for the record: lay a ruler on a modern map and see how many paths, tracks and minor roads fall into a straight line. Then find an old map (the original OS Country Series from 1850-odd at six inches to the mile are great for this) and see how many through-routes have been ploughed out or just fallen into disuse. I find it fascinating, but then I am a bit of a saddo.

  5. Quite a few Roman roads round my way...

  6. Use them as wallpaper in a personal space - you can indulge your love of them and they won't be "binned".

    I have the same affection for maps and have a few too many atlases.

  7. Roman roads ... I feel another post coming on.

    And Windsock, that is a brilliant idea. Just have to get the other half to agree ...


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