Treasure found

This is a nice story. Huge map collection not thrown in the garbage, given to Los Angeles public library instead.

The occupant of the 90-year-old cottage had died in February. Greenberg’s job was to empty the home so it could be demolished and its 18,000-square-foot lot, near the top of Canyon Vista Drive, divided into two parcels. His clients had told him to rent a Dumpster and throw away whatever he found inside.

But Greenberg couldn’t bring himself to do that, especially after he read a recent Los Angeles Times article about the Central Library’s map collection. Instead, he invited its map librarian, Glen Creason, to Mount Washington to look at the trove.

Creason called the find unbelievable. “I think there are at least a million maps here,” he said. “This dwarfs our collection — and we’ve been collecting for 100 years.”

Creason returned to the home Thursday with 10 library employees and volunteers to box up the maps. The acquisition will give the city library one of the country’s top five library map archives, behind the Library of Congress and public libraries in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, he said.

One map is from 1592.

Feathers’ trove contained both run-of-the-mill gas station and Chamber of Commerce street maps as well as historic gems, Creason said.

“He has every type of map imaginable. There’s a 1956 pictorial map of Lubbock, Texas. He’s got a 1942 Jack Renie Street Guide of Los Angeles,” Creason said. “He has four of the first Thomas Bros. guides from 1946. Those are very hard to find. The one copy we have is falling apart because it’s been so heavily used. We had to photocopy it.”

Gingerly fingering an atlas-sized 1918 map with a faded blue cover, Creason opened it up to show the National Map Co.’s “Official Paved Road” guide to the United States. The tattered pages illustrated the location of paved roads with red and blue ink.

Creason was also enthralled by the discovery of several “Mapfox” Los Angeles street guides published in 1944. Creason said in his 32-year library career he had never seen one. Also tucked into Feathers’ collection was a pocket-size “Geographia Authentic Atlas and Guide to London and Other Suburbs,” showing streets, parks, lakes and rivers that Creason dated as pre-World War I.

I want that one.


  1. clamboy says

    Too late! I already have dibs on that last one, and yes I do with no backsies! Just the thought of poring over it gives me the vapors.

  2. says

    Well…invite me over so that I can look at it then.

    I have a quite old book-map of London, not A to Zed but like that. I think it’s around 1950. Pretty good. Can’t remember where it is at the moment…

  3. machintelligence says

    Speaking of old maps, does anyone know how to go about evaluating what they are worth? I was given some WW2 vintage military maps, mostly produced by the Army Corps of Engineers for use by the Army. (My dad also was in the Corps of Engineers in a photolithography group printing maps in WW2, but he did them for use by the Air Force, and none of these were done by his unit.) They came from the estate of an Army Colonel who carried them in the field, and so are a bit crinkled around the edges. They are mostly of France and Germany and I suppose there are about 20 or 30 of them. Any suggestions would be welcome.

  4. Carmichael says

    The first link I posted @4 has a price for the map. I just Googled the name of the map and that was the first thing to come up. So, I’d try Google.

  5. naturalcynic says

    If you want to get your face on TV and get lowballed, come to Las Vegas and show up on Pawn Stars.

  6. says

    @Carmichael, thanks for that a happy few mins going through the ‘Hantshire’ maps. Funny to see the village I live in which is described as a ‘new’ one by the locals as it used to consist of three separate villages goes back to the 1595 map on there. So ‘new’ takes on a whole new meaning in Hampshire! Often wonder how long it will take to be considered locals, I think a few generations might be required.

  7. Carmichael says

    @Oolon. Glad you enjoyed it. I’m not surprised villages merge on England. Driving around the countryside, it always seemed a bit odd seeing the sign in one village pointing to another village1/2 mile away. And they’re separate villages? Very strange for an Australian.

  8. Rebecca Hensler says

    I CRAVE that 1918 map of the US’ paved roads. My wife and I will definitely be checking out that collection next time we go to LA.

  9. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Oolon, some of our villages have longer memories than that. There are two tiny hamlets about a mile apart on the River Trent in Lincolnshire; South Clifton is downstream, and the villagers still bear an inherited grudge to North Clifton because legend has it that when a Viking (how long ago!) raiding party came down the Trent, the North Clifton villagers all hid without sending a warning down-river and so allowing South Clifton to suffer the full ‘rape and pillage’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *