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Mistakes on Maps

People put their trust in maps. They expect that the information shown is correct, and they drive down a certain road or across a certain bridge based on what is depicted on the map.

And generally that works just fine.

But every once in a while the proofreader falls asleep at the wheel, so to speak, and the map gets printed with an error or omission.

Here are a few examples:

But the mapmaker made a mistake and left off one of the towns! The town of Arlington is listed in the index but is missing from the map.

The images below show another kind of error:

A 1972 Shell Oil Company road map of Indiana. The front and back covers look perfectly okay, but when you open it up all you see is a plain white sheet. It’s a map with NO map!

Probably best to blame this one on the printer, not the proofreader, however.

And then there are the deliberate errors, the ones where mapmakers use a “copyright trap” to catch rival map publishers who may be copying the information. One of the better known examples was the fictitious town of "Agloe," placed on Esso road maps during the 1930s and 1940s. The name "Agloe" was a scramble of the initials of Otto G. Lindberg (founder of the General Drafting Company) and his assistant Ernest Alpers. They located the town at a dirt-road intersection north of Roscoe, in the Catskills.

Here are a few more examples of map "goofs."

Circa 1923 map issued with a clear goof in the title spelling. (‘Beaches’ is spelled correctly on the inside cartography label.)

Mobil map with a misspelling on the cover.

Skelly map with a piece of paper pasted over the title on the cover. Holding it up to the light, you can see that the map was originally printed with the name upside down.

Ohio map with the state name misspelled "OIHO." The issuer of the map was Boron, a fully owned subsidiary of Standard of Ohio.

Poster credit: Dave Leach

As always,

Happy mapping!

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