By JAMES FLATNESS
The archives of Hammond World Atlas Corporation, one of the premier American map and atlas publishers of the 20th century, became part of the collections of the Library of Congress in December 2002. Donated by the American Map Corporation, part of the Langenscheidt Publishing Group, the archival collection of atlases, maps, map compilation materials, printing separations and business records documents the 100-year publishing history of Hammond. The company was privately owned by the Hammond family until its assets were acquired by Langenscheidt Publishers Inc. in 1999.
"We are pleased that the Langenscheidt Publishing Group and its president, Stuart Dolgins, chose to donate the archives of the Hammond World Atlas Corporation to the Library of Congress," said John Hébert, chief of the Geography and Map Division. "The records from that century-old map and atlas company are rich in examples of the broad and significant role that it played in 20th-century commercial mapping.
"With this donation," he continued, "we will be able to maintain an archival set of more than a century's worth of Hammond's production in the division. While we have acquired its products over the years, these archives contain not only the finished products that were offered to the public, but also the various devices used in producing atlas and map plates, from printing elements to specially prepared relief models. For anyone who wishes to study the history and production of a noted 20th-century U.S. mapping firm, the archives provide the researcher with an opportunity to gain a broad chronological picture of cartographic interests."
Founded by Caleb Stillson Hammond in 1900, and formally incorporated in 1901, the company has been known over much of its history as C.S. Hammond & Co. Unlike most map publishing in the United States, which was centered in Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century, C.S. Hammond began work in New York City, and the company has continued to maintain its headquarters in that area.
Hammond is well-known for its extensive line of world, historical, school and thematic atlases, but the company has issued a wide variety of other cartographic items, including maps, globes and transparencies during the last 100 years. It has also printed numerous other works, primarily for the educational market. In addition to its own imprints, Hammond's cartographic output has been included in the encyclopedias, almanacs, dictionaries, Bibles and textbooks of many other publishers.
The gift documents the process of mapmaking and atlas production as it evolved in the 20th century—from conventional hand-drawn maps to the introduction of computer-generated cartography. In addition to documenting its own corporate history, the Hammond collection is a strong and representative record of commercial mapmaking and printing in the United States, primarily during the mid-to-late-20th century.
These materials illustrate and document all the basic elements of map compilation, design, construction and printing. Map artwork contained in the collection includes works drafted using pen and ink, stick-up lettering, and a scribing technique that creates the desired image by removing an opaque coating from a sheet of plastic film. Cartographic design features include examples of line work, symbolization and lettering. The printing of maps and atlases is represented in numerous printing plates, color separations, photographs of original artwork and film negatives.
A unique cartographic element of this gift is a series of more than 100 physical relief models called "terrasculptures." Created in the late 1960s by Ernst Hofmann, a long-time head of cartographic design at Hammond, the terrasculptures are thin aluminum sheets which have been manually embossed to simulate the earth's surface in three-dimensional form. By raising the surface of the aluminum sheets to depict elevated features, or depressing the sheets to reflect such features as rivers and sea floor depths, these models accurately represent relief and topography. Color can be applied to the models to reflect the earth's natural vegetation. Hofmann's relief models reveal the artistic skills that are traditionally a major component of mapmaking. Once the relief sculptures were completed, they were photographed to provide the base shaded relief found on the Hammond maps, creating the impression that the relief actually rises from the printed page. Using the same aluminum modeling technique, Hofmann also created an 18-inch diameter globe, called the "terrasphere."
In the mid-1980s, Hammond led the industry in the development of a computer-assisted mapmaking system by creating a database that contained the latitude and longitude of all the geographic features on their maps. The proprietary database was further enhanced by patented methods for line-smoothing and name placement and culminated with the publication in 1992 of the first all-digital world atlas, "Hammond's Atlas of the World."
Included in this gift is the draft artwork, in the form of film and overlays, that Hammond digitized to form the computerized database of geographic data comprising the contents of its 1992 digital atlas. Once created, the computerized geographic database allowed these maps to be produced more accurately and efficiently.
Among the non-cartographic materials in the collection is a file of some 12,000 4-by-6-inch cards that represent part of Hammond's printing history from the early 20th century to the mid-1990s. This is primarily a record of the publications that Hammond produced for other companies. The basic data contained in these records changed over time but usually included such information as the customer's name, type of material printed, and number of copies printed, which could range from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of copies.
To stay abreast of the constantly evolving cultural, political and topographic landscape and to keep its cartographic products up-to-date, Hammond maintained a large reference/research collection of geographies, maps, atlases, statistical data, international journals and government publications from around the world. These works will be compared with the Library's holdings to determine which items supplement existing collections.
Finally, this gift contains an extensive collection of nearly 3,000 published volumes, most of them atlases, issued by Hammond in the 20th century. Representing all aspects and levels of the company's atlas production, they are an excellent record of the company's cartographic publishing and will supplement and complement the Library's existing collection of more than 1,000 Hammond atlases, which were acquired primarily through copyright deposit.
Specialists in the Geography and Map Division are currently reviewing the collection and preparing it for use by researchers in the division's reading room. An inventory of the collection is forthcoming.
James Flatness is a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.