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Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When Stonehenge Was Privately Owned

Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Ask most people what they think Stonehenge is worth and they would likely tell you it’s priceless. But if you could ask Sir Cecil Chubb, he’d tell you it was worth £6,600.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the prehistoric monument hasn’t always been open to the public. For generations, the land it stood on belonged to the Antrobus family. Although the government tried to step in to help protect the site, the family declined the offers—until one of the large outer stones fell victim to a storm on December 31, 1900. When it toppled, it took one of the top stones, known as a lintel, down with it. The lintel cracked in half, making these pieces the first Stonehenge casualties since 1797.

After word of the damage spread, people began trespassing on Antrobus property to see it for themselves (and retrieve souvenirs). In response, the family fenced the attraction in and began charging a fee to see it. But one good thing did come from the damage: Whether it was out of concern for the monument or simply due to the paying customers, antiquarians were finally allowed in to help restore the stones in 1901.

In 1915, Sir Edmund Antrobus, the last Antrobus heir, was killed in combat. The site went up for auction, and that’s where Sir Cecil Chubb stepped in. He didn’t attend the auction intending to buy a piece of history, but when he saw the stones were up for sale, he realized he had an opportunity to buy his wife a one-of-a-kind gift. His wife, it was said, wasn't especially pleased with the gesture.

Just three years later, perhaps regretting his original investment, Chubb gifted Stonehenge to the nation. He shouldn’t have second-guessed it, though—a 2010 estimate put the monument’s worth at £51 million, or close to $80 million.

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CityWood, Kickstarter
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Art
Laser-Cut Wood Maps Showcase World Cities
CityWood, Kickstarter
CityWood, Kickstarter

You can already express your love for your local geography with a chocolate map or a custom-designed poster. The latest material for immortalizing your home city is laser-cut wood. As Curbed reports, CityWood is a line of striking, minimalist maps currently raising funds on Kickstarter. (The campaign has blown past its original $3000 goal by raising more than $73,000 so far—and counting.)

CityWood offers maps of nearly 100 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. The waterways and city streets of each location are engraved into high-quality plywood using a laser cutter. The map is then put together by hand, and packaged inside a wood frame behind plexiglass.

Customers have their choice of sizes, from a small 5-inch-by-7-inch map for their desk to a 36-inch-by-36-inch display for their wall. Prices range from $29 to $439.

To preorder a CityWood map of your own, you can pledge to the product’s Kickstarter before the campaign ends on February 16. CityWood is also accepting votes on new cities to add to its lineup.

Wooden maps of various sizes.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map of city.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map on wall with chair.
CityWood, Kickstarter

[h/t Curbed]

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Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
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geography
This 1940 Film on Road Maps Will Make You Appreciate Map Apps Like Never Before
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images

In the modern era, we take for granted having constantly updated, largely accurate maps of just about every road in the world at our fingertips. If you need to find your way through a city or across a country, Google Maps has your back. You no longer have to go out and buy a paper map.

But to appreciate just what a monstrous task making road maps and keeping them updated was in decades past, take a look at this vintage short film, "Caught Mapping," spotted at the Internet Archive by National Geographic.

The 1940 film, produced by the educational and promotional company Jam Handy Organization (which created films for corporations like Chevrolet), spotlights the difficult task of producing and revising maps to keep up with new road construction and repair.

The film is a major booster of the mapmaking industry, and those involved in it come off as near-miracle workers. The process of updating maps involved sending scouts out into the field to drive along every road and note conditions, compare the roads against topographical maps, and confirm mileage figures. Then, those scouts reported back to the draughtsmen responsible for producing revised maps every two weeks. The draughtsmen updated the data on road closures and other changes.

Once those maps were printed, they were "ready to give folks a good steer," as the film's narrator puts it, quietly determining the success of any road trip in the country.

"Presto! and right at their fingertips, modern motorists can have [information] on any road they wish to take." A modern marvel, really.

[h/t National Geographic]

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