Folding, Unfolding

  • Mark Monmonier
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology book series (PSHST)


This chapter begins with an explanation of basic principles of map folding. Although the US Patent Office issued its first map-folding patent in 1889, these patents were relatively infrequent until the 1980s, when map-folding schemes such as the starburst and Z-card became more complex, more numerous, and more difficult to manufacture. After 1985 foreign inventors, always a part of the American patent system, became proportionately more prominent. These more recent map-folding strategies relied upon innovative machines customized for efficient mass production—machines that constituted a parallel stream of inventing and patenting bolstered this surge of map-fold patenting. With convenient compactness achieved, the wave subsided and innovative map folding became a dying art as patents expired and clever entrepreneurs turned to copyright’s more enduring protections.


Social Security Death Index Fold Line Patent Examiner Foreign Inventor Drawing Sheet 
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Copyright information

© Mark Monmonier 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Monmonier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public AffairsSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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