USGS Engravings: Update on Public Sales

Release Date:

From the 1880s to the 1950s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) engraved information from its surveys on metal plates (usually copper) as part of a lithographic printing process to reproduce topographic and geologic maps, geologic cross sections, and other illustrations. The engraved plates show point and line symbols and text for topography, hydrography, geology, and cultural features.

From the 1880s to the 1950s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) engraved information from its surveys on metal plates (usually copper) as part of a lithographic printing process to reproduce topographic and geologic maps, geologic cross sections, and other illustrations. The engraved plates show point and line symbols and text for topography, hydrography, geology, and cultural features.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is selling by auction to the public 1,795 sets of excess USGS engravings.  (A set includes the engravings that USGS used to reproduce an illustration.)  The available sets portray mapped areas in most States and Puerto Rico. This effort follows the successful auction of sets that GSA conducted last spring.

Because of the large number of sets, GSA will auction the sets in four sales.  Each sale will auction about 450 sets. The auctions will occur online through the GSA Auctions web site. 

The first sale, for sets that map areas in the western United States, started on August 28 and will end on September 11, 2015.  A new sale will start about every 30 days.

After the reserve price is met, the price for each set will be decided by the highest bid. In addition to the amount bid, successful bidders will incur the cost of receiving and shipping their sets from Herndon, Virginia, where the sets are located.

To support the auctions, USGS posted the inventory of sets, notes about the sets, map files that show the areas mapped by most sets, and other information.  USGS also posts status updates and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) weekly.  All this information is publicly available in files that can be downloaded from the Engravings FTP site.