Mapmakers, sellers reap the benefits of a changing world

November 14, 1990

3/8 TC The stock market may dip with every world crisis, but the map market soars.

"With everything going on in the Middle East, we sold out all our maps the first week," said Steve Scannell, manager of Geostat, a map and travel guide store in the Gallery at Harborplace. "Last year when Bush and Gorbachev met in Malta for a summit, we sold out of those. Before that, we couldn't give them away."

Whether it's an earthquake in San Francisco or a tumbling Wall in Berlin, mapmakers profit.

"People have a general fascination with globes and maps," said Gwen Baker, director of publicity for Hammond Inc., a map publisher. "There's been a lot of geopolitical change lately, and people want to know where these changes are taking place. Otherwise, it's too abstract."

But with world events happening so quickly these days, it may take a while for mapmakers to catch up. While the two Germanys have already unified, for example, it'll take time for maps and atlases to reflect that, a process which involves more than just lifting the old boundary line.

"A lot of names will be changed," said Denny Silverman, manager of The Map Store in Washington, D.C. "They may not want streets named something like Karlmarxplatt any more."

Nor are maps just functional any more. Often, they're used to decorate homes and offices.

At Geostat, for example, you can get a globe just like the one George Bush has in the Oval Office (2 1/2 feet in diameter, on an oak stand, $4,500).

Mr. Scannell, 32, dates his own love of geography to a wonderful nun who taught him at St. Mark's School in Catonsville.

And the fact that he got the job at Geostat proves that even geography nuts have a sense of humor. "The manager asked me if I knew where Paris was," he said, "so I pointed to Texas."

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