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The Mail


To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

In your issue for 19 December, G. Mercator persuasively argues the case for geography as a field of study, and for maps as tools of study. The first paragraph of his contribution, however, describes the present state of the Widener map collection with something less than his usual objectivity. I fear that my old friend (how long it seems since we first met at the Frankfurt book fair!) is becoming a little senile, or perhaps he has been working too late at nights on his Atlas.

Mercator's venture into the drawing of profiles is extremely interesting from a cartographic point of view, for there can be no doubt that it is designed, appropriately, on his own projection. As any student of mathematical geography knows, Mercator's projection, while admirably suited to such uses as navigation, creates a considerable distortion in the higher latitudes. Sure enough, Gerry's profile, although interesting and informative in its portrayal of R. A. Skelton and the plans he is formulating for the University's map collection, becomes even more interesting and at the same time very much less informative in its exaggerated description of the present state of affairs in the Winsor Map Room. Unfortunately, (I'm rather partial to sweet little old ladies, myself) neither the staff nor the surroundings are quite so picturesque as those described by Gerry; the attendants, although seriously handicapped by the lack of a catalogue, are usually able to come up with a map which answers the reader's question. Perhaps the map curator was flustered by the appearance in the Map Room of so illustrious a figure as Gerard Mercator.

Let me beg Gerry not to squander his time in journalism, but to apply himself to his proper job of mapmaking. While he has not given us his maps of America, his Atlas must be considered by no means complete or adequate. Abraham ("Theatrum") Ortellus.

(Ed. Note: The Winsor Map Room is indeed in good order this year under a male attendant. It was last year that the sweet old ladies held away.)

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