Last week, Slate’s Rebecca Onion looked at the surveying and mapmaking career of George Washington. Her main source is this page by the Library of Congress’s Edward Redmond. “Beginning with his early career as a surveyor and throughout his life as a soldier, planter, businessman, land speculator, farmer, military officer, and president, Washington relied on and benefitted from his knowledge of maps. Between 1747 and 1799 Washington surveyed over two hundred tracts of land and held title to more than sixty-five thousand acres in thirty-seven different locations,” Redmond writes. Here’s a list of Washington’s maps—drawn by him, drawn by others according to his sketches, or of property owned by him—held by the Library of Congress. [via]
An exhibition of the maps of James Robertson (1753–1829), on display at the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead, Scotland, wraps up this Saturday. The maps, on loan from the National Library of Scotland, include four maps of Jamaica, where Robertson worked as a land surveyor, and a controversial map of Aberdeenshire that, according to The Press and Journal, “was riddled with ‘inaccuracies’ and spelling mistakes, and sparked a legal dispute which raged until his death in 1829.” [via]
Last week, DC Public Library announced “the release of a century of historic Washington, D.C. maps in Dig DC, the online portal to DCPL Special Collections. These maps cover the District of Columbia and the region from the 1760s to the Civil War. To see them, head on over to the Maps: City & Regional collection on Dig DC!” Of the 8,000 or so maps in the library’s Washingtoniana Map Collection, 250 have been digitized so far; they’re working on scanning the entire collection. [via]
A facsimile of Mitchell’s New General Atlas, first published in 1860 by August Mitchell Jr. with hand-coloured maps, is now available from Schiffer Publishing. “This reproduction of Mitchell’s New General Atlas restores all 76 maps from the original plus its 26 pages of geological, statistical, and geographic information from 1860. Included are intriguing looks at the political boundaries of the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, as well as maps of other countries and regions that look vastly different today.” Press release. [via] Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
L. R. Klemm’s Relief Practice Map: Roman Empire (above) is an example of the printed tactile maps used to teach sighted and blind students alike during the nineteenth century. [via]
Most of the maps for blind and visually impaired users I’ve encountered to date are of modern provenance. Previously on The Map Room: Joshua Miele’s Tactile Maps; A View of Prague for the Blind; Virtual 3D Maps for the Blind; Maps for the Visually Impaired; Maps and Directions for the Blind; Online Maps for the Visually Impaired.
The Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Cartographic), available as a PDF file (direct link), “provides instructions for cataloging rare cartographic materials, that is, cartographic materials of any age or type of production receiving special treatment within a repository.” This is a substantial, technical document (364 pages), mainly of interest to librarians with rare and old maps under their care.
With an increased focus on the security of rare cartographic materials, DCRM(C) addresses the need for a stand-alone set of rules that covers the treatment of atlases, maps, and globes, both printed and manuscript, including the analysis of cartographic works in books or other resources, and can be used by any institution that houses these materials. The creation of a standard eliminates the need for each institution to develop extensive local practices for the treatment of rare cartographic works, and makes it possible for institutions with smaller collections to benefit from both the sophisticated tradition of rare materials cataloging and the awareness of the cartographic community of the particular qualities of our materials.
The Michigan State University Map Library now has on display three copper plates used to make the 1912 USGS topographic map of the Lansing, Michigan area. “From the 1880s to the 1950s, the U.S. Geological Survey used engraved copper plates in the process of printing topographic and geographic quadrangle maps. Copper alloy engraving plates were inscribed with a mirror image of the points, contour lines, symbols, and text that constitute a topographic map. Each plate was inscribed with details for a single color of ink.” [via]
The Ordnance Survey is currently running a map return scheme, in which customers send in their old maps in return for a voucher up to £15. It runs until March 20, but they’ve already received 9,000 maps so far. (A similar scheme in 2014 yielded 10,000 maps in total.) Some of the maps returned date back to the early 1900s. (I hope the OS makes sure they’ve got a complete set of everything; it wouldn’t do to give away the the last copy of an obscure older edition for an art project. If nothing else there’s an opportunity for a crowdsourced archive here.)
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) February 11, 2016
After Forbes Smiley was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for stealing nearly 100 maps from a number of different libraries, and maps were returned to the libraries he stole them from, there were still some missing pieces to the puzzle. There were maps in Smiley’s possession that had not been claimed; there were maps missing from libraries that Smiley did not admit to stealing, though he was recorded as the last person to see the map before it went missing.
Meanwhile, and speaking of georectified map viewers, a project to create a multi-layered online map of London, with maps from the 17th century onward georectified and available through a single interface, has received development funding from the Heritage Lottery. Work on Layers of London, as it will be called, will begin in May. Londonist, IHR, MOLA.
The National Library of Scotland has an online map viewer that overlays georeferenced old maps atop a modern web map interface (Bing, I believe). Among my crowd, it’s the various 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of London that generate the most excitement, though there are plenty of other locales (mostly but not exclusively in the U.K.) and time periods.
The Hunt-Lenox Globe, a five-inch engraved copper globe dating from the early 1500s, is one of the earliest surviving globes, one of the earliest depictions of the New World and one of only two places where the phrase hic sunt dracones (“here be dragons”) can be found. It’s held by the New York Public Library, who are justly proud of it. They’ve received a grant to produce a 3D scan of the globe; once that’s finished, the 3D model will be available online. In the meantime, here are some other images of the Hunt-Lenox Globe from the NYPL. [via]
A seventeenth-century map of Falmouth, Cornwall lost for more than a century has turned up in the private collection of a local historian who died last June. Created by George Withiell in 1690, the map, titled A True Map of all Sir Peter Killigrew’s Lands in the Parish of Mylor and part of Budock Lands, was last on public display in the 1880s and had gone missing since then. The historian, Alan Pearson, found it for sale in Bristol 10 years ago. The map is now on display at the Cornwall Record Office in Bristol. BBC News, West Briton. [via/via]