What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. But what about that place on the map?
In Shakespeare’s play, Juliet asks Romeo,
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
But what about that place on the map? Place names are often contested. For example, the Persian Gulf is a name that has been in use for a long time. Arabian Gulf is a relatively new name for the same place, that some Iranians object to.
The Sea of Japan is most commonly used to identify the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula and China. The Republic of Korea would prefer that it was called the East Sea.
Map makers, who do not wish to make a political statement with their cartography, will often go out of their way to make the map so that the name or boundary is not included, or is not legible, to stay out of the conflict. When the issue came to our attention, we dug back into the Map Vault at Williams & Heintz to see if we could find any older map, to see what was on it. Sure enough, this Tectonic Map of China and Mongolia, that we printed for the Geological Society of America, in 1974 has the name of the sea conveniently omitted.
Now, I firmly believe that some old place names are better changed: place names that are racist, or sexist would smell much sweeter without an offensive name. My view of political names is, “a rose would smell as sweet.”
What do you think?
Williams & Heintz Map Corp. printed the Tectonic Map of Mexico in 1961 for the Geological Society of America. The map was compiled by Zoltan de Czerna. The Bathymetry was compiled by Bruce C. Heezen. The preparation of the base map and final drafting was done by David Saldaña. They spent the years from 1956 to 1959 compiling and preparing this map.
After printing, we would inspect each individual sheet. Because even though this is a multi-color map, it was printed on only a two color press, a more common press in the early 1960’s. This required the paper to be fed through the press multiple times. The difficulty was, that if the paper did not feed into the press exactly the same every time, it would result in a misregistration of the image. Since the run lengths of these jobs was rarely more than several hundred we used to run a significant amount of overs and when the job was finished each sheet would be individually inspected to catch the misregistered sheets.
This level of inspection is not possible with runs in the millions, so today it’s a good thing we have six color presses.
For more information on print registration and map colors see: