The world’s largest atlas ever

Opening to an incredible 6ft x 9ft (1.8m x 2.75m), Earth Platinum, the world's largest Atlas has 128 pages, weighs 120kg and is bound by hand. It was a long-cherished dream of Gordon Cheers, an Australian businessman to publish such a book that is a legend in its own right. Today, Cheers is the managing director of the Millennium House, which has published just 31 copies of Earth Platinum.

Twenty five years ago, Cheers spoke to his then boss to come out with the most comprehensive world atlas. But it was considered too expensive then. So, Cheers finally set up his own company six years ago to come out with Earth Blue and Earth Gold atlases and from there succeeded to publish Earth

Platinum. “The sheer task of ‘tiling’ the world together in one seamless stream, where there is consistency across all the oceans and continents is no mean feat technically and intellectually,” said Cheers.

“We believe Earth Platinum will be the largest book published (i.e. it has a cover, pages, an index, there is more than one printed, and is readily available for sale). It is certainly the largest atlas ever printed or published. The amount of data we have is so large that we needed to publish a book of this size to do justice to the material we had,” said Cheers. Hence, the conceptualisation of the atlas which is priced at US$100,000 per copy.

The publishing house hopes that institutions (libraries, museums and galleries) will buy Earth Platinum and use it for reference purposes. Earth Platinum gets the world at your fingertips so this is the closest you can get to see the world unless you’re an astronaut looking from space.

Cheers said that the double page image of Machu Picchu mountains in Earth Platinum makes one feel that they can reach out and touch the real mountain as the photos are detailed and very sharp. When asked about the challenges of coming out with such a rare book, Cheers said, “The computer memory required to produce Earth Platinum was enormous.

Our cartographers added more memory to their computers to cope with large number of calculations. They  needed the latest hardware to work on even a single page. It was also a challenge to balance the political considerations in producing Earth Platinum.”

Cheers added that sourcing images for this book was another challenging area. “We were fortunate to discover the gigapan photographic process, which uses up to 1,000 images per photo to create just one image for our double page spread.

Needless to say, these images are huge in size (up to 5 or more gigabytes in some instances), some taking as long to download as a whole movie, so moving files was yet another challenge,” said Cheers.

Later, printing and binding was yet another obstacle to overcome. “Locating a printer with the machinery and expertise to print such a volume proved difficult, but we were finally able to locate a printer in Europe.

This had not only the machinery but the skill, craftsmanship and attention to detail that we demanded. There is perhaps only one such printer in the world that can produce Earth Platinum to the standard and quality we expected.

“Our aim in producing Earth Platinum is to create a legacy for future generations, it was never to make lots of money. By producing just 31 copies I hope Earth Platinum is cherished for decades to come,” said Cheers. Cheers will be in Oman from May 21-22 to meet interested buyers.

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