VOA on the Waldseemüller Map


Earlier this month Voice of America had a short, introductory piece on Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world. Because it’s the first time the word “America” appears on a map, it’s become known as “America’s birth certificate.” It’s for that reason that the Library of Congress spent $10 million to acquire the last known copy of the map. The story of the map, however, is much more interesting than that: it’s an amalgam of classical knowledge with more recent discoveries, a curious document that tries to bridge two different ways of thinking about the world. [WMS]

Several books about the map have been published. I haven’t yet seen The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio by John W. Hessler (Giles, 2008) or Putting “America” on the Map by Seymour I. Schwartz (Prometheus, 2007), but I have read and reviewed The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester (Free Press, 2009), which wraps the map in considerable historical context (buy the book at Amazon or iBooks).

Previously: Digital Preservation and Waldseemüller’s 1507 Map; Review: The Fourth Part of the World.

Nick Ross Helps Out

On Canada Day, Nick Ross drew a map of Canada to help Americans out:

On the Fourth of July, Nick Ross drew a map of the U.S. to help Canadians out:

Has the Ricci Map Been Altered?


This Taipei Times article suggests that some copies of the Ricci map—Matteo Ricci’s 1602 map of the world produced for the Chinese emperor—have been altered, possibly to support (or at least not contradict) the present-day Chinese territorial claim to the Spratly Islands (and the nine-dash line). In particular, the article claims, the James Ford Bell Trust’s copy of the map has been altered:

Part of the legend reading “between the 15th and 42nd parallels” had been erased, with ocean patterns painted over the erasure. […] Whether this is a recent defacement done to obliterate evidence that China’s historical primacy in the South China Sea is a modern fiction, or an ancient one done to eliminate an error, is a subject for further research. […] Nonetheless, several other 16th century copies of the Ricci-Li map exist in Europe, South Korea and Japan, and all display the legend intact.

To be honest, the article isn’t so much making a case as it is casting some aspersions. It has an agenda: to shoot down the argument that China’s claims to the Spratly Islands are supported by the historical record. The Ricci map—like so many other maps caught up in territorial disputes and conspiracy theories—is simply a means to an end. [WMS/Leventhal Map Center]

Mapping the Spanish General Elections

El Mundo, 27 June 2016

Spain held elections for its legislature, the Cortes Generales, on Sunday. Spain’s Congress of Deputies is elected via proportional representation, so the constituency map model we’re used to in anglophone countries doesn’t apply. How then are the results mapped? If the interactive maps from El Mundo (see screencap above) and El Diario are any indication, by municipality. El Mundo’s map also allows you to filter by political party and toggle between municipal and provincial results (Senate seats are by province); El Diario’s has some simple demographic filters. [Maps Mania/Maps on the Web]

Google’s Cloud-Free Mosaic Gets Updated

Google’s low- and medium-resolution satellite imagery has gotten a comprehensive update with new imagery from the Landsat 8 satellite. It’s the first such update to its seamless, cloud-free mosaic in three years. The Atlantic has detailed coverage (that helpfully points out, among other things, that this doesn’t apply to the highest zoom levels: those images come from DigitalGlobe satellites and aerial photography).

The California Hiking Map

california-hiking-map The California Hiking Map is a poster-sized (40″×60″) map of California that purports to show all of the state’s hiking trails on a single map. “The trails shown generally include hiking trails, Class 1 bike paths, and fire roads closed to vehicles. This map also highlights select long distance trails and historical trails. Insets were made for some areas that have a high volume of trails in close proximity.” The result of two years work and a Kickstarter campaign, the map costs $20 plus tax and shipping. [Ryan Mik]