Chinagraph/Wax pencils

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Similar to a crayon, this is a chinagraph. Also known as a wax or grease pencil it was manufactured specifically to write on shiny surfaces and easily wipe off without scratching. Here it has been used to highlight film detail requiring attention, although they were equally used in the darkroom to write page numbers on film extracts ready for patch-up. …

Mrs P Crossrail boring machine

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This is one of a number of Crossrail’s Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs). According to tunnelling tradition, a TBM cannot start work until it is given a name and, back in February 2012, one of the first was named Phyllis after our founder. Around 150 meters long and 1000 tonnes in weight the Phyllis TBM was launched on the 4th of …

Computerised drawing using digitizer

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This is the typical 1990s drawing office CAD computer set-up with twin monitors, one showing an overview and the second for close detailed work. The device on the table is a digitising tablet with a cross hair puck, rather than a mouse, which was ideal for capturing data from paper plans (although it is not being used in this way …

Phyllis Pearsall forms Geographers’ Map Trust in 1966

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This is one of our favourite photographs of our founder Phyllis Pearsall; a remarkable woman who, having witnessed the impact of unexpected business closure on loyal staff when the owner died, took the unselfish step of giving up her company shares in order to set up the Geographers’ Map Trust. This partnership trust safeguarded the company and employees from hostile …

London 2012 maps

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A-Z was proud to be the official paper map supplier to London 2012 (the Games of the XXX Olympiad). You can see a number of our ‘Official Products’ from our range here – from compact self-covered sheet maps to glossy souvenir book titles. Data was processed to produce venue and regional maps combining A-Z accuracy and quality with the London …

Alexander Gross’ World Atlas

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This publication was not published by A-Z, but the name bottom right reveals a common DNA. ‘Prepared under the direction of Alexander Gross FRGS’ this is ‘The Daily Telegraph Victory Atlas of the World’ published by his map company Geographia Ltd. A successful joint venture with the newspaper, began in the early 1900s publishing war maps of European areas of …

Peel coat boundary cutter

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This tool cuts two parallel lines into the surface of a peel coat sheet. The distance between the two blades is set with the thumb wheel in the centre. It was perfect for cutting a wide band like the administrative boundary verge seen here. Tricky to use, positioning was everything, draughtsmen had to have a light hand, to avoid cutting …

Light Table

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This is a light table, once common place in the Drawing Office (every draughtsman worked on one) this is the only example we have today. The light from three fluorescent tubes is diffused through a coating on the underside of a thick glass top illuminating drawing materials from below. This was especially helpful when working with ruby coloured scribe sheets …

Double ruling pencil

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This drawing instrument is a double ruling pencil being used here on Astrafoil, a plastic sheet with a matt drawing surface. Each Graphite ‘lead’ is held in place with a thumb wheel screw and shaped into a fine edge using the sandpaper block, seen left. It was important to first close the legs, using the large thumb wheel, in order …

Mrs P’s MBE

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Phyllis Pearsall was awarded a civilian MBE in HM The Queen’s birthday honours of 1986 with the investiture on the 14th of June. This framed certificate details the appointment granting ‘the Dignity of an Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire’. The enlarged background image is the embossed seal taken from the top left …