The Prodigal Plates


The five copper plates discussed in this episode are works of art in themselves. The engraver’s hand drew the details of the maps and even the title box backwards (top image). When printed the ink would transfer to the paper and look something like the lower image.

After surviving 160 odd years in British archives, the 1947 transfer to Florida and transfers to various locations around the state, the plates spent most of the last few decades on a bottom shelf in the archives at the Smathers Library at the University of Florida.

One plate, kept on the top of the pile in the box, would be taken out occasionally for scholars and students to study. (That plate will stay with the University of Florida for teaching purposes).

But when archivist, James Cusick, Ph.D. (left), put all the plates out for packing, it was the first time some of them had been seen in decades.

The exquisite workmanship and fascinating historical details made it tough for Cusick and the Florida Historical Society’s Ben DiBase to take their eyes off the plates.

But after recording the interview for this episode, they got down to it.

Four of the plates were individually wrapped and padded for travel.

The 15 pound plates were stacked one more time onto a hand truck.

The plates were off on their next adventure,

this time carefully padded in the back of the Florida Historical Society’s vehicle.

  The four plates will be on display at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science until March, 2020 ( ).