retirement on December 31, 1947, of Mr. J.
Walter Thompson from the Coast and Geodetic
Survey as a copperplate engraver brings to an end a combined
service by the Thompson family in the Bureau which adds up to
230 years. In addition to the 46 years service by Walter Thompson,
his father, uncle, and two cousins were also retired from the
Bureau after long years of service. His father, J.G. Thompson,
served 45 years and his uncle, William A. Thompson, served 48
years as Chief Engraver.
At the turn of the century, after a brief period of employment
in the Geological Survey as an apprentice engraver, Mr. Thompson
gained considerable attention with his vaudeville show featuring
a trained dog act. After a tour which included stage presentations
in all the prominent cities of the east, Mr. Thompson entered
on duty in the Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1901 as an apprentice
engraver where he has been continuously employed since.
Mr. Thompson is a life member of Dawson Lodge No. 16, F.A.A.M.
He is secretary-treasurer of the Arlington Wheelman and has
been an active member of that organization for 49 years. Among
his prized possessions is a collection of awards which he won
as an amateur bicycle racer.
The art of copperplate engraving, in which Mr. Thompson has
attained outstanding recognition, is almost entirely superseded
as a method of map and chart reproduction. Copperplate engraving
of nautical charts as practiced by this employee, afforded Whistler
his first medium of expressing his artistic ability during his
brief employment in the Coast and Geodetic Survey.