A Story of Restoration and Reproduction

By Herman Reynard

The author has kindly provided a backstory of the digital reproduction of this family heirloom map using Ortelius, which we include in its entirety below.

“The overall user experience using Ortelius with this large map project, has been most positive. Whatever I wanted to do, be it creating symbols or styles, creating the actual ‘drawing’ was easily accomplished… The Ortelius symbol creation tools are superb,” reports Herman Reynard.

“In 2005 on a trip to Holland to visit my sisters, one sister, knowing that I have been a collector of old atlases and maps for a number of years, gave me two old maps she saved from the family home when this had been sold a good number of years ago. One map was a 78 x 60 cm ‘Platte Grond’ of the City of Utrecht. Platte Grond is a non-translatable Dutch term meaning roughly ‘flat earth view’ and the second one being a 58 x 78 cm map of the Province of Gelderland. The Utrecht map my sister thought was from the late 1800’s while the Gelderland map was used by our father in the 1930’s as he travelled much around Gelderland as a salesman in his Model A Ford. There was no date anywhere on the Gelderland map, so the guess was probably between 1900 and 1930.

I took both maps home with me to Edmonton where I taped all the tears with Scotch magic mending tape, and thought about the idea of trying to restore the maps on my Power Mac using Photoshop. However, I drew total blanks in finding a company capable of scanning these large documents and coming up with a tiff file.

Finally I discovered Elite Lithographers Ltd. in Edmonton who said that they could scan and give me tiff formatted files. They had an old fashioned 6x8ft vertical vacuum board – the kind used by industrial image processors – which could suck the old wrinkled maps almost perfectly flat against it surface. Then, they had a Power Mac connected to a very costly CCD device mounted on a big tripod and with whatever software they had, they were capable of scanning at a one pixel width line at the time. I believe it took just 2 hours to scan s single side.

Over the next 6 months on my 1.6 Ghz PowerMac with a 20″ Apple cinema display I ‘restored’ the Utrecht Platte Grond using Photoshop Elemets 3. It was a bit of a trying experience in that the text was all hand lettering and I found 7 different styles and not much consistency in size. It took a lot of time, many Photoshop Element crashes but in the end I ended up with a fairly good looking map at the end of 2006. It did all the restoring in a single layer in PE3 as I had heard too many horror stories about multi-layer PE3 disasters. With the help of a brother in law in Holland it was established that the Utrecht Platte Grond showed Utrecht between 1900 and 1910 so I added to the title ‘Omstreeks 1905’, meaning ‘about 1905’.

My sister has a Giclée print as I do myself in shadow box frame as ‘objects d’art’. My sister’s son, my nephew Jan-Willem Prins, in Holland, a landscape architect and amateur geographer is now the keeper of the old original map and the restored version.

I have attached copies of the original scan and the restored Utrecht Platte Grond so you can see a bit mapped restoration.

In 2007 I had a scan made of the Gelderland map and with this in hand I made numerous attempts over the next four years, all unsuccessful, to find an application which would enable me to restore the Gelderland map. I tried Photoshop Elements 3 and PE 9, Acorn, Intaglio and I even fired up an old G3 Mac which has one of my all time favourites applications called Color-it running under Mac OS 9.

Then in March 2011 I found Ortelius, and once I had this installed I knew immediately that this was the answer to my search for an application to restore/redraw the Gelderland map. The only question I had was could Ortelius deal gracefully with a map as large as I had, in the area of 70x90cm. With a canvass created of 70x90cm and the tiff scan brought in as a layer all doubts vanished that Ortelius was the app to use.

I spent the next four months playing around, creating layers and adding data to various layers and shuffling them around to see the effect. I also started building a potential layer list and a list of symbols and styles I would need and build, and try to find text styles installed on my 24Imac which would match the fonts used on the Gelderland map.

In this I was successful in that I found Book Antiqua which gave me a very close match to the font most used on the original map. It took a bit of digging to find fonts which would match the other fonts on the Gelderland map, but overall I did not find a need to bring any font into my 24Imac to accommodate the fonts on the original map. Finding fonts to use was really a non issue. The present day fonts used in nearly all cases have tighter kerning which was advantageous in that just about all the time the newly entered name took up less space than that shown on the old map.

Fairly early on I had a second tiff scan made of the original map. If you look at the first scan you can see in places a reddish colouring. This I gathered cam from a piece of red coloured thick paper my father had glued to the back of the map which enabled easy folding of the map, and somewhere the map had gotten wet to cause the red bleeding making those two sections difficult to read.

When I was getting close to finishing, I contacted my nephew Jan-Willem Prins and asked if he would be prepared to spend some time helping me with a list of 120 items which I had interpreted a certain way on the old map and not really being sure if my interpretation was sound. He agreed and I sent him copies the original map and a tiff and pdf version of the new one.

Together we resolved all the questionable points, and Jan-Willem even volunteered to check the spelling of all text. 57 spelling errors were found and were subsequently corrected by me.

On separate pages I have listed changes which I have made, differences between the original map and the new one, some with explanations and some without reason.

I’ve also listed on a separate page my experiences using Ortelius redrawing a large map such as this one. I keep using the word ‘large map’ without really knowing if that is the case!

Before I had any of the full size Giclée prints made, I made four versions each with a slightly different shade of the background colour. Elite Lithographers Ltd. printed an 8.5×11″ of each. I picked the ‘H’ version myself as the best looking one, but I also placed the four in front of a bunch of strangers to choose and giving them 10 seconds to choose. The shade difference was minute, but all picked the version ‘H’ as the most desirable one.

Three Giclée prints have been made so far. I have one, mounted in a shadowbox frame, Jan-Willem Prins has one in Holland and a third one graces the walls of one Carole Amerongen, owner of a nifty restaurant called The Dish and Runaway Spoon in Edmonton, the grand daughter of a Baron Amerongen, who came to Canada in the early 1900’s, from Kasteel (Castle) Amerongen, which is shown on the map just south of the town Amerongen in section B4.

Finally, the original Gelderland map I had laminated in a clear UV proof lucite material and it sits in the back of the mew map shadow box frame.”

– Herman Reynard

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