Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Mapping our World

Another outing, another exhibition, another treat.

We are on a bit of a roll at the moment.  Last week we went to our National Library to see 'Mapping Our World:   Terra Incognita to Australia.'

I find old maps romantic.  Here be dragones...  And they are frequently beautiful.  And I am amazed at their accuracy - and sometimes at their inaccuracy.

Photography was banned at this exhibition too.  And they were very serious about it.  Mobile phones turned off (and a guard or two in each room).  Large handbags/shoulder bags to be checked in before entering.  So again I have bought postcards - which I am happy to share.  Let me know in the comments if you would like one.

I took a few photos (on my phone) before we went in.



And then to the exhibition.
Starting with a fridge magnet (of course).


Amazingly, this exhibition was free.  And the crowd control was very well done.  Relatively small numbers of people were allowed into the exhibition at a time, which meant that looking at the exhibits, reading about them, absorbing them was not only possible, but enjoyable.

The earliest map featured was from c.1050 and was itself a copy of a map originally created in 425 AD by the Roman philosopher Macrobius.  It shows the way that Europe viewed the world, dividing it into zones or climates.  Pretty amazing for the time.  Macrobius imagined the Antipodes to the south as a large, frozen and undiscovered land.  And was surprisingly accurate when Antarctica is factored in.

The most recent map in the exhibition was published in 1814 after Mathew Flinders had completed the first circumnavigation of Australia.  And the detail and the accuracy was phenomenal.

The exhibition includes maps, atlases, globes and instruments - including a long case clock which travelled with Captain Cook (unsurprisingly it apparently was in need of repair by the time he reached Australia).

I was, and am in awe at the courage, initiative and sheer skill of the early explorers - and the cartographers.  Many of the maps are works of art.

I could rabbit on indefinitely, but won't.  A selection of the post cards follows instead.  Clicking will embiggen them so you can see some of the details.







And, as I said, I am happy to share them and will post a card to anyone who wants one - until I run out.

104 comments:

  1. Hi EC,

    Sounds interesting - I love looking at really old maps.

    :-)

    Cheers

    PM

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    1. Plastic Mancunian: It was a fascinating exhibition.

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  2. Some amazing maps. Makes you wonder how they did it before flight, when they could really see the land. I certainly understand no flash photography - the light would fade the maps further.

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    1. Alex J. Cavanaugh: They were incredible - and beautifully preserved. I was grateful to be able to see them, and happy to just observe.

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  3. I love maps too. Like you, I find then romantic and fascinating. Pieces of art, indeed.

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    1. Wendy: At a time when a mistake meant starting all over again. Incredible.

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  4. I found that when I enlarged one of your pictures while in my Reader, I was able to make the maps MUCH bigger and study them carefully. You are right: they are incredible in their accuracy. I love old maps, too. Yes, you are being fortunate in your outings. Yay! :-)

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    1. DJan: Aren't they amazing? So much detail, lovingly hand crafted.

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  5. It must be an incredibly interesting exhibition...I've read about it and it certainly did intrigue me.

    Thanks for sharing it with us, EC. :)

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    1. Lee: It is a stunner. We are very lucky and get a LOT of amazing exhibitions here. And try and get to most of them.

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  6. What a view into the minds of cartographers and intelligentsia of the time! The work involved, the man-power and time, wow!

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    1. Susan Kane: Wow is a wonderful summation.

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  7. That's nice that you got to go. It's nice too that it was free!

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    1. mail4rosey: I was quite suprised to discover it was free. And pleased.

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  8. I too like old maps they are so decorative.
    Merle..........

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    1. Merlesworld: They are aren't they? I would love to have a couple.

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  9. Amazing. The second last one with the incomplete Australia is interesting, especially as New Zealand and Tasmania are there.

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    1. Andrew: It was a fascinating exhibition. Scientific discover and beauty packing in together.

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  10. Well, thank you for "taking me long" as it's too far away for me! As you know, I'm a bit of a maps buff so really enjoyed this.

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    1. dinahmow: I was sorry that you couldn't be here to enjoy it with us.

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  11. I agree, it is truly amazing the accuracy and beauty in these maps ... I wish I could understand how they were able to accomplish this with such limited equipment and knowledge ... Makes one wonder :) Beautiful post ... very interesting and enjoyable .

    andrea @ From The Sol

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    1. Andrea: I am still in awe at their skills and their courage. And amazed at their work.

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  12. Old maps are an insight into the world as it was seen. Some are truly amazing. I love them and could gaze for hours at them, studying tiny details.

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    1. Friko: And the more Iooked, the more incredible details emerged. I could have had hours and hours of fun with any single map on display.

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  13. Having been a maker of maps for many years I can understand your fascination with these interpretations of our world :-)
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Geoff: You have yet another talent? Cartography, photography AND poetry. A man of many talents.

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  14. I agree with you Soosie about the courage of those early cartographers and world explorers. They traveled around into the unknown in search of better understanding of where we were all standing. Amazing :-)

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    1. farawayinthesunshine: They travelled the world and so many of them didn't survive. And even those that did sacrificed soooo much.

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  15. Snap! I love old maps too. Especially those with engravings of whales, fish-like dragons and mer-people... like the second map you've posted.
    There's mystery and intrigue in them. And, the excited discovery of new worlds.

    I used to love to disappear into old maps in library books as a child - they were a great escape for me.
    Reality blends with fantasy. Here be dragons indeed.
    Love them!

    I've looked to see if this exhibition is coming to Melbourne, but no luck. I so would go. I find early cartography so fascinating.
    And, pure art.

    Thanks so much for this post, EC.

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    1. Vicki: Those little details just add to the magic don't they? Some of the maps are permanently in the National Library so if ever you get up this way some at least would be available. So much beauty, so much courage...

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  16. I enjoyed looking at these EC, thank you :) Sounds like a great exhibition.

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  17. What a fabulous exhibition and free also. That would never be the case here. You are very fortunate to have such interesting show s to visit.

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: We are very lucky. And there are a couple of other exhibitions on at the moment we hope to get to as well.

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  18. Beautiful! Especially impressed with last map which shows California as an island off the west coast of Nevada. I still think of it that way!

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    1. Geo.: They are beautiful aren't they? And certainly pandered to one or two of my own mythconceptions.

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  19. I am sooo jealous. And Starting Over is right - here they ding you on the admission AND a special fee for an exhibit.

    I have never understood why we can't take pics at museums. I mean, it's not like we're going to forge the stuff.

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    1. Riot Kitty: I expected to be charged entry too. A pleasant surprise. The ninja was right about the no photography rule - a flash could have further faded the images. Or at least not one flash, but the many. And the same would have been true in the Inca exhibition.
      Just the same I would LOVE to have the skill to forge some of this - and other things too. Perhaps my lack of talent serves to keep me on the straight and narrow.

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  20. I love old maps! It would have been a fascinating exhibit for me.

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    1. Karen: I love that so many people would have enjoyed it with me. It was incredible. Beautiful. Moving...and rather a lot of other superlatives.

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  21. I've never paid much attention to maps, but can see why you enjoyed this so much. They really are works of art and a wonder considering the available knowledge at those times. You are such a generous person, to share your explorations with us. Thank you so much.

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    1. Myrna R.: It is the old maps which start my mind wandering. I love them. And am glad to have introduced some of their magic to you.

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  22. hi EC. Old maps look so pretty. I am not any good following one though!

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    1. Margaret Adamson: I am not sure that many of us could follow some of these maps - but they are pretty.

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  23. The postcards are all wonderful! I won't ask for one, because I'd prefer the whole set, and I think others should get a chance.

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    1. River: So far, no-one except you has expresssed an interest. If by, say Wednesday next week no-one wants one, they are yours.

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  24. Those cards are superb, I likely would have one, but, I don't anywhere to hang them, sorry.

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    1. Bob Bushell: They are gorgeous aren't they? I am sorry that you don't have anywhere to put them though...

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  25. Those ARE lovely! I'll be brave and ask for one (can I pick which one?). Forgive me, River! :)

    p.s. Am so relieved names like Macrobius have fallen out of fashion.

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    1. Ms. CrankyPants: Of course you can choose the one you would most like. Get back to me with your choice and your address and it is done. (And there are a couple of duplicates so River might still get her set.)

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    2. Yay! I've emailed you the exciting details. Thanks so much!

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    3. Ms. CrankyPants: I will send it next week. With pleasure.

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  26. Beautiful. My husband is obsessed with maps, but I am partial to the old ones. We went to a similar exhibit last summer, it's amazing to me how inaccurate those old maps were. We take all our knowledge (and easily accessible knowledge) for granted nowadays...

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    1. Raquel Somatra: The old ones were glorious weren't they? And yes, there were some glaring inaccuracies but it was the accuracies which blew me away given the equiptment they had available.

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  27. What a feast of carographic treasures! And free? Wow, I'm doubly impressed as it's not a word you hear much these days as far as exhibitions are concerned. It looks wonderful.

    I am also someone who loves these old maps that were truly works of art. Although it's somewhat disconcerting to realise that they used these to sail around the world back then, which is scary.

    I am particularly fond of the medieval maps full of intricate details, offering insights into a world with no borders, where the gods created the winds that made the ships sail and monsters patrolled the ends of the earth.

    There is a great map of the Scandinavian region called Carta Marina. I think it's around 500 years old and the detail is incredible. I loved the sea monsters attacking both the ships and each other. The geography was completely wrong, as the map was based on the sailors’ ideas and memories rather than on any proper calculations. Captain Cook would have had a fit. :-)

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    1. Marie: I must do a google hunt and see if I can see Carta Marina. And, on the memory front, I doubt that anyone could find their way anywhere if I was to draw a map without the benefit of street signs or fixed points. And I certainly couldn't draw it with the artistic flair...

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  28. My Small Gods, they're beautiful. I have a copy of an old map which is waiting to be framed, I envy you this exhibition! There is something about old maps, they're so beautifully drawn, real works of art. I'll have a postcard of course as it costs only life savings to send me anything hahaha. Stupid postal fees, no, don't send one it will cost too much, I'll keep your photos instead. What a lovely day you two will have had X

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    1. All Consuming: It was a lovely day. Pure magic.

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  29. What a fantastic exhibition. The maps are absolutely wonderful. They are definitely works of art.

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    1. Sienna Smythe: It is always a delight to be given a 'beautiful' education when we go to an exhibition.

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  30. When you come over here I'll take you to Hereford to see the Mappa Mundi.

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    1. Relatively Retiring: When/if I get over there I will take you up on that. Thank you.

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  31. I am another who is amazed by how accurate the maps were, considering the lack of so many tools that we now have. And I'm amazed at the courage of the adventurers who left everything familiar behind and set off never knowing if they would return. I'm so glad you made time for this outing for yourselves (and shared it with us :))

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    1. jenny_o: So many of them didn't return. And must have known that the odds were not in their favour. And we have benefited immeasurably from their courage.

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  32. Lovely, My Dear, S.

    Just like you. XXxxOO

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    1. My Inner Chick: Much, much more lovely than me. Hugs.

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  33. We owe so much to the early explorerers. Their maps were often works of art. And a free exhibition of them. How grand. I would have loved to see it.

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    1. Roland D. Yeomans: It was a privilege to see. And a delight.

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  34. I would have so loved to see this exhibition. Thank you sooo much for sharing it with us! They were intrepid, the old mapmakers, and extremely clever. And the colours look so lovely.

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    1. Alexia: It was just beautiful. The colours were fairly muted (time I think), but glorious. And I am still in awe.

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  35. Wow, those are some gorgeous post cards! I love when governments can provide such fine exhibits for free to the public.

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    1. John Wiswell: I was surprised it was free - but very, very appreciative. And the exhibition was wonderful, and the 'shop' was tasteful and full of beautiful things. And rather a lot of books I lusted after.

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  36. I love the intricate details on old maps...a real work of art!

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    1. Mildred Ratched: Welcome - and thank you. There were a LOT of works of art in this exhibition.

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  37. Hey Sue,

    I didn't need a map to get to your site. I actually share your fascination with maps. The really old ones intrigue me. Some are actually quite accurate. This was proven when they took photos of the world from space. I visualised some ancient person walking around a shoreline and figuring it our from there.

    With that, I shall now use the directions to get out of here :)

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    1. klahanie: They are incredible aren't they? So beautiful, so brave. Which I seem to have repeated many times this post. I hope your world is settling into a better place again. Hugs.

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  38. Beautiful exhibition, and free, too! :-) Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. A Cuban in London: Such a treat - on both counts.

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  39. EC, I saw this exhibition a couple of weeks ago and was enthralled. Could have stood in one spot all day, just taking it in. What a privilege to see, and of course, it was free.

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    1. Carol: It was incredible wasn't it? And, next time you are in my neck of the woods - contact me. Please.

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  40. Wow, those postcards are lovely! Thank you for sharing them here.

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  41. I love the old maps...their colors and wonderful artwork are exceptional. I sometimes wonder if the purpose of beauty is to cover up the fact that the map itself was known to be inaccurate or fanciful in some way! My favorites are the ones with creatures or astrology images on them. You've been to see some great museums and such lately. I'm glad you're getting out of the house and avoiding drudgery. :)

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    1. River Fairchild: Drudgery has happened, but I have had some lovely drudge free breaks as well.

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  42. I'm envious! I love maps. If even the postcards look this interesting, I can only imagine what the exhibition itself was like! Sounds like a great way to spend the day. I'm glad you got to go.

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    1. Paper Chipmunk (aka Ellen): You were one of the people I wished (so much) could share it with me. They have wrapping paper for sale with some of the maps on too. And cards. And books. And the National Library is a real gem.

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  43. These are so, so beautiful. I love old maps too. Thank you for sharing this, I love it.

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    1. Jackie K: Incredible isn't it? And I am so glad that other people share this passion of mine too.

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  44. GASP! Tomorrow I'm going to copy/paste the second map up from the bottom and print it. Love it!

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    1. lotta joy: Would you like it posted to you? All you need do is send me an address.

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  45. Maybe I can make a card out of a postcard....wait...does that sound sane?

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    1. lotta joy: It sounds perfectly sane to me - but my grasp on sanity is always a bit wobbly.

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  46. I love looking at old maps and seeing how people long ago saw our world and boundaries of countries.

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    1. Medeia Sharif: Welcome - I was amazed at just how accurate some of these maps are. And how beautiful.

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  47. Nowadays, we get annoyed if we use a program like Mapquest to get directions to someplace, and there are errors in it. They might place a restaurant on the wrong side of the street, or fail to note that a particular roadway is one-way, or whatever. But imagine what it must have been like for those early adventurers who went into the unknown and tried to create the first maps to represent what they'd seen. Amazing. (Beautiful, too!)

    And YOU got to see some of those early maps! It sounds like a fascinating exhibit.

    Happy weekend!

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    1. Susan: And the makers of Mapquest don't have to leave their families for years on end, and risk never returning. And today's maps cannot compare on the beauty stakes...

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  48. These maps are amazing! I would have enjoyed this exhibition tremendously! I love old maps. My mother always used to navigate my Dad while driving and she taught me this "art" as well, and we taught our daughter. I remember being speechless when I met someone who wasn't able to read a map! I took that for granted... nowadays everyone has a GPS and I'm afraid this "art" will be lost pretty soon.
    If you still have one card I would be over the moon to receive - but I guess they're already gone. I loved looking at them!

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    1. Carola Bartz: I do have a card left. If you give me an address it is yours. I am thrilled to find so many people sharing another of my passions.

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  49. Beautiful cards. Museums can't always let us take photos. But you did a great job of showing the beauty of old maps with the cards. I love maps too, and have one of the city of Paris in my study.

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    1. D.G. Hudson: Welcome and thank you. The old maps have so much more charm than the more modern ones don't they?

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  50. I love these! I've always been a sucker for old maps. I'd pore over them a as a kid. I was destined to be a traveler. Must've been some exhibit!

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    1. Pk Hrezo: It was, and is, a wonderful exhibit. The stuff of dreams. And I am not a traveller - and still love old maps.

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