JF Ptak Science Books Post 2327
When I had an open shop I almost always maintained an antique map/print part in the front,airy, high-ceiling space and had my hardcore science stock in the back. (People who were after that sort of book/info had tunnel vision, generally, so location hardly mattered, so long as the books were there, a trait and characteristic I highly admired.) Generally speaking this was not true with the map/print buyers, or at least the occasional purchaser, so they had "pretty" dedicated to their comfort.
Over the years I heard many thing from people trying to noodle out the reasons for old maps, and all of that was fine, and even the not-self-flattery comments flowed by like a lazy stream with a snapping turtle in it. The one comment I did not like and which I always corrected had to do with how "bad" a map of North America (or wherever) was when it was drawn in say 1783. Long story short, the maps were spectacular given the era and the technical capability and the amount of information on hand. (Also if people were told they needed to go out right now and make a map with standard 19th c mapmaking/surveying instruments, most had absolutely no idea how to procede.) There aren't all that many "bad" maps floating around, except for those determined to be misleading that have been issued by various intelligence and mapping agencies around the world.
That said, there are some badly designed maps, and when you have a map with a badly constructed premise for presentation that makes the thing difficult to use, you have created a "bad map".
I say this because I just bumped into one, and here's a detail of what I'm talking about:
Just because you pack data onto a map doesn't make it good, and this one is about as gritty as a half-cooked cornmeal pancake.
So, when you have the time and the capacity and the data and you produce a map that is unyelding and impenetrable in spite of all the good it has going for it (not the least of which is interest), then you have created a bad map.
Source: Library of Congress
"Map of the military operations during the war of 1861-1865 designed expressly to accompany The lost cause," a standard southern history of the war. George Woolworth Colton, 1827-1901, and published in New York by E. B. Treat & Co., ca. 1867.