There are general reference atlases and there are general reference atlases. Then there is the Earth atlas series by Millennium House. Formed in 2005, the specialist book publisher set out to become major players in the atlas publishing market by producing what they referred to then as the world’s largest atlas.
Earth Blue was produced by over 100 cartographers, oceanographers and geographers worldwide and contains 355 maps covering 194 countries. The cartography is classy but it’s the overall effect of combining the maps with extensive text of each country, over 800 beautiful images of the world and stunning 6 foot long gatefolds that makes the atlas a stand-out product. That…and the size. At 2ft by 1.5 ft this is no small book and the sheer size and weight of the tome make it a significant piece of work that reflects the scope of the effort that went into its design, compilation and production. The hand-bound leather covers, gilded pages, signed certificates of authenticity and limited edition numbering make these atlases a genuine collector’s item. There are two editions – Royal blue (2,000 copies) and Imperial Gold (1,000 copies).
The only problem with Earh Blue is that it wasn’t actually the world’s largest atlas…that title went to the Klencke Atlas published in 1660. So Millennium House stepped up their game and produced Earth Platinum. Each of the strictly limited 31 copies weighs 330 lbs and measures 6ft by 9ft. It is, genuinely, the world’s largest atlas as of 2012. The book contains 128 pages and all of the exquisite information, cartography and imagery found in Earth Blue but on a whole different scale and with the inclusion of Gigapixel imagery.
This is cartography on a grand scale and it’s the sheer detail and size of the project and product that makes this work stand-out. In an age of digital publishing it’s a brave decision to enter atlas print publishing at the high end of the market but the Earth atlases are remarkable cartographic products.