In October the Los Angeles Public Library received an extraordinary collection of maps, thanks to real estate agent, Matthew Greenberg. Greenbery had been retained by the heirs of local map collector John Feathers to clear Feathers’ Mt. Washington home befor eit was demolished. The home was packed to the gills with maps, of which Greenberg had been given permission to dispose. Instead of tossing the maps into a dumpster, he called Central Library's Map Librarian Glen Creason, after reading a recent newspaper story about the library’s map collection.
"At first, I was skeptical," said Creason in reference to Greenberg's phone call. "But he was very excited about the potential of the maps."
What Creason and his team of assistants discovered when they arrived to haul away the inventory will likely become the stuff of legend among archivists and collectors. "Having done this for 23 years, I saw things I'd never seen before," said Creason.
From the moment he walked into the kitchen and spotted a first edition Street Guide of Renie, Creason sensed this map gift would be unlike any other. The team went on to find four copies of the first Thomas Street Guide and several "Mapfox" L.A. street guides. After one rare treasure after another emerged, Creason said the whole process began to feel "kind of like sorting through King Solomon's mines."
Thanks to the hunch of a real estate agent turned executor and the cooperation of the Keller family heirs, John Feathers' vast map collection was saved from a dumpster and can be enjoyed and studies by generations..
According to the L.A. Times, the complete donation is projected to catapult the status of LAPL's map collection, already considered superb, into one of the top five in the country. "What this means is that our research capabilities are increased dramatically, " Creason said. "Some of the weak links in the chain are going to be connected. It expands the entire coverage."
Images: the maps as as found in John Feathers' home.