FAQ

I made a mistake when I ordered, what can I do?

Reach out here or email info[at]quercusmaps.com. Address changes can be handled easily, other errors can be corrected on a case-by-case basis.

Do you accept returns?

All sales are final, no returns accepted. If your order arrived damaged/misprinted you’ll get a free replacement.

When will my order arrive?

I’d give it 10 days, the blankets go by UPS and the cards go by USPS. You’ll get a tracking link when your order ships.

What’s a Quercus?

An oak tree. My favorite is Quercus agrifolia, the California live oak, growing low and twisty, evergreen against dry yellow hills.

Where’d these maps come from?

These’re mostly U.S. Coast Survey and U.S. Geological Survey maps from 1900-1980.

If you’re wondering why any map from 1900 looks better than every contemporary map: 1900’s maps started as blank pages, while today’s maps begin with a tangle of data.

A map created sometime between the opposable thumb and the 1980s: every line deliberately placed by someone’s hand. Someone who knew trigonometry and geodesy would use known points on the ground to translate the 3D terrain onto a 2D plane, a drafter would fill in bounds, rivers, roads etc, an illustrator or painter would draw the hills, a letterer would add words, an engraver would scratch everything line-y into a metal plate for printing, if you wanted multiple colors you needed multiple plates, and at the end of all that work you got a map we still want to look at 100 years later.

The median map created after the ’80s: maybe 0.0001% of the lines were touched by a human. Sometime after cheap disk storage and desktop GIS software became available, mapmaking flipped from build-up to winnow-down; instead of starting with a blank page like the old days, today you ask a (hopefully) trustworthy database for a pile of geographic info. You get all the roads, rivers, buildings, then throw out what’s not needed. Epistemological risk aside (you hope the database reflects reality, it’s not checked very often) this process yields maps that look careless. You can navigate by them, but who’s going to hang a Google Map in their house?

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