Gaming Terminology: Obscure mapping terms

I’ve been a fan of maps and mapping for a very long time.  I have had a huge collection of 15-minute maps dating from the late 1800’s and into the early 1950s for many years.  I have acquired quite a few of the avaiable Sanborn insurance maps for the many small communities around where I live.  Basically, I love cartography and any excuse to own an old map is good enough for me.

Recently I have discovered some embarrassing failings in my own knowledge about the words used to describe a map.  For instance, what would you call this?

I searched on ‘cartography terms’ and failed to find it.

I drew this, but at the time I didn’t even know what to call it.

It is inserted into the upper-right hand corner of a map to add some illustrative beauty to it.  But what does one call it?  I mentally thought of it as an artsy-wingding, but when you actually create one, it does make you more curious.  I searched on ‘cartography terms’ and failed to find it.  It isn’t any better when you search on ‘parts of a map.’  I eventually gave up and never found a good word to describe what I’d drawn.

map_art_labA few weeks later and completely by accident, I stumbled across the answer in a book named ‘Map Art Lab’ which details over 50 art projects related to maps and mapping.  Because these sort of additions are artistic in nature, the authors had managed to find and share the term.

Artistic mapping flourishes held away from the map are called cartouches.  It sounds like car-tooshes when pronounced.

Generally this is limited to an authors or publishers shield or badge, but might also extend to peripheral artwork away from the map, such as strange sea beasts in bodies of water or 4 windy corners.   The introductory image is an example of a cartouche.

Artistic mapping flourishes are called cartouches

As long as we are on the subject, I know of another rarely used cartographer’s term.  Most professional maps have a border going all the way around the cartography.  These are called ‘neatlines,’ presumably because they keep the map neat looking.  I’ve occasionally seen the neatline made so that it contained scale markings, making it doubly-useful, but usually they are merely decorative.


A Judges Guild Story

Back in ’70s, I was a big, big fan of Judges Guild materials.  They produced incredibly cool stuff at a reasonable price point AND they were located within driving distance of my home.  Not that I ever drove there, but it was still inspiring to know that a smallish mid-west town was cranking out D&D materials.

At the time, I fancied myself as being a pen and ink artist and sent a few sketches off to Judges Guild along with a SASE and a letter asking them to please consider my artwork.  Being a kid of 17 years, I also called a couple of times and probably made a general ass of myself.  I think that the arrangement was that Mr. Bledsaw would mail me a check and a copy of whatever the artwork appeared in. There wasn’t much money in it, but getting D&D materials for a little ink and time seemed like a good deal – plus it got me published.

Well, I never heard back.  I moved later in the year and then life happened and I sort of forgot all about it.

Cover Judges Guild Journal 14 1979

Fast forward 35 years….  I am on the Board Game Geek and decided to type my name in when searching for credits.  To my surprise,  my name pops up as having been an author for Judges Guild Journal #14 on page 25.   Well, I had no recollection of writing anything for them, so I decided maybe it was another Tim Kilgore.  Heck, there is even a Pro-Wrestling Tim Kilgore…

Another year goes by – it is 2016 and I am DMing D&D again.  I decided that I had to know for sure and used ebay to get a copy of the Judges Guild Journal #14.  I turn to page 25 and as I turn the page a big old grin comes to my mug unbidden – right there was 2 pieces of art that I’d not seen since I mailed it in 1979.


I actually laughed and smiled for a good five minutes – it was just so nice to see these again.  They aren’t awesome – but they are mine and it just sort of took me back to a time and place, refreshing my recollection of who I once was.

I suppose that moving probably interfered with me getting anything from Judges Guild.  And while it took a long time for me to know about it, I do have to say that it is pretty cool to have made the cut and to have been published by Judges Guild.

I think that Mr. Bledsaw knew that it was a big deal to me and he included my full signature – which he had to pull from the letter I had sent – and having done that, it allowed someone to create an entry for me as an author on the Board Game Geek website.  If he’d not been so kind, I’d never have never found it.


Medieval woodcut converted to vector

I have scoured the web for old woodcuts and plan on cleaning a few of them up a bit and converting them to vector format so they are scalable.  This is not the first one that I have done, but it is the first one that I have colorized.

Cleanly colored woodcit
Cleanly colored woodcut of “St. George Slaying the Dragon” from 1515.

I am taking on several large projects at the moment, so it is especially good to get something done!