Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Best 99 cents ever spent

Sometime back in the late 'Sixties, I bought an atlas from the Edward R. Hamilton catalogue: The Hammond Ideal World Atlas, New Perspective Edition, copyright 1967. I even gave copies to a couple of relatives. One of those people had a house fire and the other has moved around a lot. This atlas incorporates the 1960 census figures. It displays the populations for tiny towns and villages. It's a world atlas, and a good one, but it shines when it comes to the US of A. There's a separate highway map for each state. For each state there's a sort of economic atlas showing major crops, livestock-raising, minerals mined, and the like. For each state there's a small topographic map. It has 256 pages. Apart from the 1960 census figures, which we love to compare with current ones, my favorite feature is that county outlines and names are displayed, along with county seats. These maps are amazingly clear, despite all the small-town detail. Of course, just as population figures have changed, so have highways; and there are even new counties (e.g., in New Mexico). I bet this book is taken from the shelf at least a couple of times a week, either to clarify something in the news or to settle a bar-bet type of question. The dust-jacket has long since fallen into two pieces, and the end-papers are foxed. I'd buy a backup copy if there were one to be found, but the best I've come up with appears to be a similar Hammond atlas that would have 1970 census numbers. The cover design of this household favorite displays the red, pink, and orange of its era.


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