Geographers' A–Z Street Atlas

The A–Z (pronounced "A to Zed"), or in full the Geographers' A–Z Street Atlas, is a name given to any one of a range of atlases of streets in the United Kingdom currently produced by Geographers' A–Z Map Company Limited. Its first atlas, of London, was originally compiled in the 1930s by Phyllis Pearsall. The company she founded now publishes street maps of many cities and towns in the UK.

Until relatively recently, maps produced by the Geographers' (A–Z) Map Company did not include a publication date. Some clues to dating include:

On all A–Z maps, there is a 3 or 4 letter code in one of the corners, often the one containing the key. These letters represent numbers, which are the cartographic date, in the form (M)MYY. There was at least one scheme used, and perhaps a second.

In one scheme, the letters JIHGFEDCBA represent the digits 1 to 9 and 0, so that HFD would be 357, indicating a publication date of March 1957. This seems to have been used on all the company's folding maps, and possibly also those in book form.

The Geographers' A–Z Street Atlas and the story of how Phyllis Pearsall came to write the first edition covering London were featured in a 2005 episode of Nicholas Crane's Map Man TV programme. This revealed that, on all their maps, A–Z print a non-existent trap street so that they can tell if a map has been illegally copied from theirs, a technique used by several publishers of reference works (see fictitious entry).

The story of Pearsall's creation of the A–Z also inspired the musical The A–Z of Mrs P.

This page was last edited on 4 February 2018, at 18:46.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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