I have long been drawn to the beauty and history of physical maps – one piece of paper with so much to tell. Luckily I married a man who similarly loves his maps. What he doesn’t love so much is my penchant for gift wrapping with maps – I think they look fabulous and he lives in a state of constant worry that I will start chopping up his favourite Michelin Maps of France that he uses to cycle there.
Well, no I won’t. I understand the power of the map to both create and document. I understand they are one of things that enable us to move forward as a civilisation. I understand how much he loves his maps. I understand that even the history of maps is fascinating to him and others – and speaking of fascinating I do recommend an article from The Atlantic – 12 Maps that Changed the World – starting with Ptolemy’s Geography (150 AD) and finishing with Virtual Mapping from Google Earth in 2005.
Fortunately, there are plenty of maps and mapping ideas that can be used for gift wrapping that do not rely on cutting into dearly loved heirloom pieces and ruining an otherwise happy union. You can use tourist and transit maps, atlases, out of date maps that or maps from second hand stores or book fairs (after checking their providence – there could be a hidden antique gem among st the dusty piles).
You could also buy wrapping paper where the pattern is a map – and it was just that sort of wrapping paper that I happened upon recently in Typo (I love the chain Typo though it can be a bit variable in terms of things that appeal to me – all the more reason to visit quite regularly as I wouldn’t want to miss out on a new treat).
The map wrapping paper was hanging in a rather nondescript section of the store. I usually like my wrapping paper on a roll to avoid the fold lines but this one was folded to about the size of packets of tissue paper. I had to get over the fold bit because many maps are actually folded. I snapped the wrapping paper up at $3.95 just for the look and colours without looking too closely at just what the map was of.
When I arrived home I opened the paper out to reveal a map of the world with which to wrap some books only to find my husband and his friend pouring over said map – “This is an interesting map – when is it from ? ” They scoured over Europe and Africa and South America and what is now the United States. There was Louisiana but no Texas . The land locked country of Bolivia extended to the coast . There were African countries but no Lake Victoria or Lake Tanganyika. There was a Uropa but none of the Stans. Prussia but no Germany. There were large swathes of pink to denote, one presumes the Commonwealth.
After much discussion and more than a little bit of historical one upsmanship, they decided it was most likely a world map from between 1845 and 1865. All this without conducting a single Google Search or fact check. It really was quite a fascinating discussion. I don’t know if they intended to make me feel bad about using the map as wrapping paper, but I was determined to use it. I could after all, always go to Typo and get some more.
So with all due respect to their discussion, I did use the paper and I love the look – it speaks of history and colour and travel. No big satin bow for this gift – but gold cord and a wooden baggage label, the key to the steamer cabin and thoughts of distant places. I think this wrap would work well for many occasions and recipients but particularity well for gentlemen. It’s the ultimate for a gift wrapper when the wrapping paper itself provokes discussion – a successful wrap all mapped out.