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Map, United States, Cartographic Curiosity, Braille Relief, Relief Plastic, c. 1965-1985 (Sold)

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William J. Butler (act. 1930s) (designer)
Relief Map of the United States
American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, Kentucky: c. 1965-1985
Hand-painted plastic
19.25 x 31.25 inches as framed overall

A colorful puzzle relief map of the continental United States, including parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and the northern tip of South America. The map is the size of a schoolroom desk and labeled in braille for the education of the blind and visually impaired. The states are “dissected” — each one a separate cutout shape. Cartography is simple, with the states in bright contrasting colors for the visually impaired. These include shades of yellow, green, gray, pink and red with bodies of water in blue. Cities are indicated by faux nailheads (resembling map pin heads), colored black, with state capitals colored red. Mountain ranges and topography are shown in raised relief, with rivers indicated by incised lines in blue. Longitude and latitude lines in the oceans are also incised, and are labeled with raised numerals and in braille around the perimeter. The entire map is cast within a molded black frame and backing.

Product description continues below.


One of these maps is in the collection of the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), its original publisher. According to their records, it was designed by William J. Butler, foreman of the APH map shop as an improvement on wooden relief maps, which were labor-intensive to produce. Butler’s design was initially cast in hard rubber from molds, and proved popular with teachers and students. The hard rubber version was sold from the 1940s through the mid 1960s, when the APH switched to plastic (as offered here). The plastic map last appeared in the APH catalog in 1986.

Cartouche: Relief Map/ of the/ United States/ Manufactured by/ American Printing House for the Blind/ Louisville, Kentucky/ Copyright 1939/ The William J. Butler Relief Map/ Louisville, KY. U.S.A. #24613.


“Relief Map of the United States.” Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind. 2 April 2010. (15 May 2013).

Additional information


20th Century