The Unwritten Record, a blog by staff at the U.S. National Archives’s Special Media Archives Services Division, announced last month: “Civil War maps are always popular at the National Archives, and the Cartographic Branch is pleased to announce the digitization of over 100 Confederate maps from Record Group (RG) 109. All are now available to view or download through our online catalog.” [Texas Map Society]
The Bodleian Map Room Blog posts some excerpts from an 1882 Austro-Hungarian guide to mapmaking. “The Schlüssel und vorlageblatter für den situations zeichnungs unterricht (which translates roughly as ‘Key and template for drawing lessons’) is a teaching aid created by the Institute of Military Geography in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War in 1882 for the drawing of maps. Inside there are a number of different terrain examples and sheets showing scales, text, topographical features and legends.” As the blog post points out, the purpose of the guide was to ensure uniformity in military mapmaking. [Benjamin Hennig]
A rare copy of James Palmatary’s 1857 map of Chicago is being auctioned next week, Crain’s reports. Only four copies are known to exist of the map, a bird’s-eye view that depicts the city as it was before the Great Fire; this is the only one in private hands. The remaining surviving copies are held by the Chicago Historical Society, the Library of Congress and the Newberry Library. The map is expected to fetch $20,000 to $30,000. [Tony Campbell]
Federerico Italiano unearths a scarily abstract 1888 weather map of Europe by Emil Letoschek that is nevertheless intelligible (at least if you read German).
Joan Blaeu’s Archipelagus Orientalis is to Australia what Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map is to America: a case where a first appearance on a map is referred to as a country’s birth certificate. The 17th-century map included data from Tasman’s voyages and named New Holland (Australia) and New Zealand for the first time. The National Library of Australia is working on conserving its 1663 copy, but an earlier, unrestored version dating from around 1659 recently turned up in an Italian home; earlier this month it was auctioned at Sotheby’s and sold for nearly £250,000. [Tony Campbell]
Meanwhile, at a somewhat more modest scale, an 1884 hand-drawn map of what would later become the tony Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano by colourful local Sam Greer went for C$24,200—five times its estimated price.
Three academic books out this month deal with the subject of mapping, surveying, and empire-building:
The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence by S. Max Edelson (Harvard University Press) covers the period between the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution. From the publisher:
Under orders from King George III to reform the colonies, the Board of Trade dispatched surveyors to map far-flung frontiers, chart coastlines in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, sound Florida’s rivers, parcel tropical islands into plantation tracts, and mark boundaries with indigenous nations across the continental interior. Scaled to military standards of resolution, the maps they produced sought to capture the essential attributes of colonial spaces—their natural capacities for agriculture, navigation, and commerce—and give British officials the knowledge they needed to take command over colonization from across the Atlantic.
Britain’s vision of imperial control threatened to displace colonists as meaningful agents of empire and diminished what they viewed as their greatest historical accomplishment: settling the New World. As London’s mapmakers published these images of order in breathtaking American atlases, Continental and British forces were already engaged in a violent contest over who would control the real spaces they represented.
The First Mapping of America: The General Survey of British North America by Alex Johnson (I. B. Tauris) seems to cover similar territory, if you’ll pardon the pun, though I have very little information about it. [Amazon]
Finally, Daniel Foliard’s Dislocating the Orient: British Maps and the Making of the Middle East, 1854-1921 (University of Chicago Press) “vividly illustrates how the British first defined the Middle East as a geopolitical and cartographic region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through their imperial maps. Until then, the region had never been clearly distinguished from ‘the East’ or ‘the Orient.’ In the course of their colonial activities, however, the British began to conceive of the Middle East as a separate and distinct part of the world, with consequences that continue to be felt today.” [Amazon, iBooks]
Related: Map Books of 2017.
On a recent episode of the PBS version of the Antiques Roadshow, Chris Lane appraised a copy of the 1833 Churchman Eagle Map of the United States at $25,000. On the Antiques Print Blog Lane explains how he arrived at that number, which some have thought was a bit on the high side. [WMS]
William Smith’s 19th-century geological maps of Britain are now available online via an interactive map interface. [Maps Mania]
Speaking of the Library of Congress, yesterday it opened a new exhibition both online and at the Library’s North Exhibition Gallery. Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood features the best known copy of Abel Buell’s 1784 New and Correct Map of the United States of North America—“which, among other things, has been recognized as the very first map of the newly independent United States to be compiled, printed, and published in America by an American. Additionally, the 1784 publication is the first map to be copyrighted in the United States, registered under the auspices of the Connecticut State Assembly.” Accompanying Buell’s map are other early maps—often the first maps—of each U.S. state; the maps will rotate on and off physical display for space reasons but will eventually all be featured online. [WMS]
Opening this Saturday, 25 June at the Art Institute of Chicago and running until 6 November, Unique Perspectives: Japanese Maps from the 18th and 19th Centuries “showcases the beauty of Japanese printmaking. The 18th- and 19th-century maps on view feature the world, the Japanese archipelago, and the country’s major cities, including Osaka, Yokohama, Edo, Nagasaki, and Kyoto. Highlights include works from trustee Barry MacLean’s comprehensive collection.” [WMS]
The Wiscasset Newspaper (seriously, that’s what it’s called) of Wiscasset, Maine profiles former resident Gary Flanders, who’s “made it a hobby collecting old colonial maps of the Wiscasset area.” [WMS]
The New Hampshire Union Leader marks the 200th anniversary of Philip Carrigain’s map of New Hampshire; only 250 copies were distributed, some of which are still in the possession of the communities who submitted their surveys to Carrigain. (The above copy comes from the David Rumsey collection.) [WMS]
Running from 29 April to 5 September 2016 at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas, Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State “is a once-in-a-generation, collaborative exhibition covering nearly three hundred years of Texas mapping. The maps, dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, document the birth of Texas, the evolution of the physical and political boundaries of the state and the rise of the Alamo and San Antonio Missions.” [WMS]
Meanwhile, the Texas General Land Office has acquired five rare maps from the 1840-1841 survey of the boundary between the then-Republic of Texas and the United States (see example above). Press release. [Tony Campbell/WMS]
“A New York dealer in antique maps and rare books claims to have found the first map of Salt Lake City,” writes Trent Toone of the Deseret News. “Paul Cohen, of Cohen and Taliaferro, recently obtained the original sheepskin plat map of the ‘Great City of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake’ and plans to have it on display at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, which runs April 7-10.” The 21½×11¼-inch sheepskin map was produced during an 1847 survey. [WMS]
CityLab’s Laura Bliss has a second post on women and cartography, this time focusing on the work of 19th-century women cartographers, geographers and educators in the United States. The Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, focuses on the work (and maps) of one of those women, Emma Hart Willard.
A copy of an 1853 map of Texas by Jacob de Cordova found in a $10 box of ragtime sheet music sold at auction last weekend for $10,000. The map, once owned by surveyor James M. Manning, who died in 1872, was bought, along with a related letter, by Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi, whose library houses the Manning papers. [via]