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Soviet Changes Mean Booming Business for Map Makers With AM-Soviet-Politics, Bjt

December 30, 1992

CHICAGO (AP) _ The demise of the Soviet Union has created a boom market for makers of maps, flags and globes, and obsolete items such as the hammer-and-sickle flag are hot sellers as collectibles, suppliers said Monday.

″There’s been an increase in the demand for the Soviet Union flag, because the hammer and sickle is no more. We’ve sold quite a few in the last week,″ said Suzanne Voisin, manager of a Rand McNally store in Chicago.

″Globes are becoming a collectors’ item just like stamps, coins and beer cans,″ said manager Perry Kim at a Rand McNally store in suburban Oak Brook.

At Hammond Inc. in Maplewood, N.J., a major supplier of maps and atlases to book stores, there are no plans to make special editions of obsolete items because ″the demand for up-to-date materials is so huge that we’ve focused on that,″ spokeswoman Gwen Baker said.

″Since the Iron Curtain has been lifted everyone’s been busy here,″ Baker said.

Keeping up with the reunification of Germany, the emergence of the independent Baltic states, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of the new Commonwealth of Independent States has meant a 30 percent increase in overtime for Hammond workers, Baker said.

While map makers welcome the business, keeping up with the changes hasn’t been easy.

″The past few years, everything has been changing so much it keeps everybody in turmoil,″ said Linda Mickle of the International Map Dealers Association, a Kankakee-based trade association.

″By the time we get a new map out, it’s obsolete,″ she said.

Hammond, which revises its atlases yearly, had planned to have new editions ready for the Christmas season. But it put things on hold after the failed Soviet coup in August and the independence of the Baltics, said Chuck Lees, Hammond’s vice president and cartographic editor-in-chief.

Following company policy, Hammond waited to make alterations until the U.S. government officially recognized the Soviet changes, Baker said.

Updated atlases should be available by March, barring more major developments, she said.

At Rand McNally headquarters in suburban Skokie, cartographers had a hunch the Soviet republics would soon be independent countries.

That gave them a head start on getting out a new map. By late January or early February, a version of Rand McNally’s Cosmopolitan World Map showing the republics as independent nations will come out.

″Rand McNally’s policy is to recognize de facto situations and it was our conclusion that all of the Soviet republics are in fact independent countries,″ spokesman Conroy Erickson said.

″We have to realize that change is our stock in trade,″ Erickson said. ″If maps never changed, nobody would ever need a new one.″

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