Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Map

This writer loves maps - especially those old, large maps that people find so beautiful that they hang them on their walls in matted, aristocratic frames. But not so aristocratic as to take away from the map itself. I love those things. If sufficient money were available to me for such treasures, I am sure that a bit of it would be spent on such maps and they would be hanging on my walls. 

That said, wealthy or not, I still collect maps. I have them from my days in China, my life in Portugal and my wanderings throughout the cantons of Switzerland as well as those days in Tibet that late spring and early summer of 1986. Maps are to be gazed upon and one's imagination should be stimulated to wonder what exciting and exotic goings-on are taking place in the remotest of regions on those panels and pages.

Sometimes your writer studies a map, chooses a location and simply decides that he will go to that locale simply because it looks like the most remote place the can go. And this was before the internet and easily acquired satellite imagery was around for the common masses. (Common Masseys, Aunt Olivia?) One simply didn't have pictures or 3-D maps to to help them decide beforehand if it was worth the journey. You simply arrived and got what was there to be offered. Or nothing at all. 

Well, today I went through the flea market at König-Karl-Platz in Stuttgart - the square directly behind the Old Castle. Miriam went too. I really enjoy the place because there are a few book sellers amongst the cornucopia of stalls, and one of them sells books of all ages for just 3€ each! At that price, this writer's budget availability is in full swing. I won't go so far as to say that I come home with a book following every visit, but rest assured I make every effort to do so. Once, I came home with a sack filled with 10 volumes of Goethe's works. The backs of the books are leather. The set cost a total of 20€. The tomes once belonged to a long-gone Bavarian noble named Theodorus, Freiherr (Baron) von Tucher und Simmelsdorf, Behringersdorf und Winterstein. His title and name alone warranted half the inside of the books' front covers. They were printed in 1904 in Berlin, and although I cannot read a lick of the marvelous old style lettering printed in those days, I am just glad to have them. Besides, they look nice. 

But back to today's visit: we wandered around the flea market. I went directly to the old books and stamps (I lead an exciting life.) and Miriam went on her own interesting hunt. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to come across a little book printed in 1927 entitled Württemberg, Reisehandbuch by Rudolf Höllwarth. To his even greater pleasure, your writer discovered that at the time of its printing, today's Baden-Württemberg was called Württemberg-Hohenzollern: Hohenzollern being a principality that is the historic origins to the last dynasty of Imperial Germany up to 1918. You know, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his kin? (By the way, please do not confuse good King Wilhelm II of Württemberg with the egocentric Emperor (Ger: "Kaiser") of Germany of the same name and number up in Berlin at about the same time. Two different men: the good one was invited to live out his retirement years south of Stuttgart on a stipend; the bad one got kicked out of the country altogether and died in exile in the Netherlands.)

Anyway, the whole point of this posting is to tell you that the little book is a 1920s travel guide with maps galore in the forms of inserts and fold-out pages! Pay dirt for 2.50€. There's a big one of Stuttgart in the middle. The streets are even designed showing outlines of the larger landmarks, some of which no longer exist due to World War II. Other towns and cities of the Weimar state of Württemberg-Hohenzollern are also included, of course. I am sure some of the streets have been altered following post-war reconstruction and urban sprawl with the incredible expansion and development of the new Federal German state since 1949. 

Can't wait to show this to Miss A.!