Copies of the largest world atlas ever produced have gone on sale at an earth-shattering price of £2,000 each. Dubbed “the ultimate book about our world”, the luxurious, limited edition Earth is hand-bound in leather with gilded edges and silver-plated corners.The atlas and its case together weigh 30kg – more than the maximum many airlines set passengers for their baggage allowance.
The 576 pages contain 154 maps and 800 photographs backed with detailed descriptions of every country’s geography, history and culture. Lying closed, the atlas takes up a third of a square metre with four gatefolds opening out to two square metres each. Ten cartographic experts at the British map company Global Mapping spent eight months compiling Earth with more than 100 overseas colleagues including fellow map makers, geographers and oceanographers. They worked with detail from a continuously updated world database of digital mapping.
Global Mapping’s Alan Smith said: “We all had to keep to the same, consistent specification to make sure everything tied in universally from the way we shaded hills to the presentation of political geography. The sheer physical size of the atlas is amazing. The overall content, including the maps, text and photographs, is very much more detailed than any other atlas ever produced.”
Only 3,000 hand-numbered copies of Earth have been made – one for every 3.3 million people in the world. The atlas is expected to appeal to specialist collectors, libraries, rich individuals with a penchant for mapping and companies seeking lavish, once-in-a-lifetime corporate gifts. Taking the exclusive level even higher, one thousand copies from the print run have had their covers redone in gold leather with gold plated corners at the request of distributors in the Middle East.
Earth is the brainchild of Australian map publisher Gordon Cheers who has already received several hundred orders for copies. He described it as “a time capsule of where we are in the world today”.
The atlas may be impressive but its 30kg weight still pales into insignificance when compared to the mass of the planet itself – estimated at an unpronounceable 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg.