Speaking of georeferencing old maps, the Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library has a collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century urban atlases. Their Atlascope platform presents 101 of them in a web interface overlaid on a modern street map. The Leventhal is now looking to expand Atlascope’s coverage beyond the Boston area to towns and counties across Massachusetts, and is raising funds to do so (it can apparently take 60 hours to process one atlas). Details on sponsoring an atlas here. See their Instagram post.
Category: Antique Maps
The blog of the Library of Congress’s Geography and Maps Division isn’t the first place you’d expect an explanation of the GeoTIFF format (basically, an image file in TIFF format that includes georeferencing metadata, so that the image can be projected on a map grid). But georeferencing old maps so that they can be placed on a modern map grid is definitely a thing, and Carissa Pastuch’s piece, “The Secret Life of GeoTIFFs,” looks at GeoTIFFs through the lens of an experimental dataset of georeferenced late 19th- and early 20th-century Austro-Hungarian maps.
The Economist’s Interactive History of the Ordnance Survey
The Economist looks at the history of the Ordnance Survey in an interactive feature that shows the progress of the first 19th-century maps across Great Britain. Of course the definitive history of the Survey’s first century, as the Economist article readily allows, is Rachel Hewitt’s Map of a Nation (2010), which I reviewed here. [Maps Mania]
Some Map How-to Videos
Most of their videos are a few years old, but I only recently stumbled across the YouTube channel of New World Maps. They have a number of short, practical videos aimed at map buyers and map owners who want to display their maps: tips for framing maps, for flattening maps so they can be framed (above), for dealing with small chips and tears (at least on inexpensive maps), among other subjects. Useful—and not just for maps.
A Kickstarter Project to Rediscover 19th-Century Atlases
Alejandro Polanco’s latest Kickstarter, Geography 1880, is in the vein of some of his previous ones: restoring and reprinting works from the late 19th century. This time he’s looking to create an anthology of maps from family and school atlases of the era.
The idea is to give shape to a new atlas that brings together maps forgotten in time that were once enjoyed again and again, by the light of a fire or gas lamps, from the great era of family atlases. To this end, I am undertaking a process of scanning the atlases of the period between 1860 and 1900 that I have in my library. Alongside this material, the book includes maps from various map libraries around the world (from USA, Spain, UK and Germany), with the corresponding attribution. All this forms an atlas full of authentic 19th century works of art that I hope will spark the imagination of my backers just as it was in the 1880s. Alongside the maps and illustrations of the period, my descriptive commentaries include details of the graphic styles, cartographers and geographical curiosities that appear on each page.
Hardcover, softcover and PDF versions will be produced, the hardcover in a 100-copy limited edition that has already been spoken for.
Previously: A Project to Restore a 19th-Century Treatise on Hand-drawn Mapping.
The Unreal Ebstorf Map
The Ebstorf Map, a 13th-century mappa mundi, was destroyed by bombing during World War II; it survives only as black-and-white photographs and colour facsimiles of the original. Those images were used by the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg to create a digital version in 2008. And now that digital version has been used to create an interactive version of the Ebstorf Map using a video game engine. The British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog has the details.
The British Library has collaborated with Escape Studios’ School of Interactive and Real Time to create an interactive version of the Ebstorf map. A team of students and graduates participated in the ‘Escape Pod’ incubator to create a 3D version of the map, using the digital facsimile created by Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.
The interactive map, created in Unreal Engine, has been set in a fictional medieval scriptorium to suggest the tone of the space in which it was created. All aspects of the room were imagined, researched and created by the students at Escape.
The interactive map ties in with the British Library’s ongoing exhibition, Alexander the Great: the Making of a Myth; the map’s 15 clickable points of interest relate to Alexander. Details here.
It sounds like overkill, albeit a fun kind of overkill. It’s a free download, but requires a PC with a graphics card (i.e., no integrated graphics) running Windows 10, so I can’t try it out. But if you can, and want to, you can download it here.
New Boston-Focused Map Exhibitions at the Leventhal Center
Opening today at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center, Building Blocks: Boston Stories from Urban Atlases is an exhibition that explores street-level changes to Boston in the period between the Civil War and World War II. Media release.
Building Blocks: Boston Stories from Urban Atlases features rare materials from the BPL’s historic collection of maps and atlases alongside lithographs, photographs, and sketches of familiar local landscapes. Visitors will discover how the atlas collections opens up a world of fascinating stories, with vignettes including the city’s first African Meeting House in the heart of Beacon Hill, landmarks of leisure like the “Derby Racer” and “Giant Safety Thriller” amusement rides in Revere, public health infrastructure on Gallops Island in Boston Harbor, and many more.
The in-person exhibition at the BPL’s Central Library opens today; a digital version will follow online. Runs until 19 August 2023. A curatorial introduction will take place next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a permanent exhibition, Becoming Boston: Eight Moments in the Geography of a Changing City, also opens today at the Leventhal: “In the eight cases of this exhibition, we follow the changing spatial forms of the place we now call Boston—from before the landscape carried that name all the way through the struggles, clashes, and dreams that continue to reshape the city today.”
See the Leventhal’s exhibitions page and their preview of 2023 events for more details.
A Christmas Map Roundup
The Newberry’s David Weimer explains the presence, in a 1598 map of the Arctic Circle, of a man in a red coat riding in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
Maps Mania links to two Santa trackers: NORAD’s and Google’s.
In a post from last year, James Cheshire notes how Indian and Chinese laws about depicting their contested borders are reflected in Christmas ornaments made in each country. [Mappery]
Map History Books Published in 2022
Georeferencing Familiar Places
On the Leventhal Map Center’s website, Ezra Acevedo describes what it’s like to georeference a century-old atlas of your hometown. “Spending many hours poring over maps of such a well known place was really exciting. My knowledge of the town coupled with its resistance to change meant that the historic maps of Ipswich weren’t all that difficult to line up with the modern map. However, I did learn four important lessons while georeferencing my hometown.”
New Book About Emma Hart Willard
A book about the work of Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870) is coming out this month from Visionary Press. The book, Emma Willard: Maps of History, includes an essay by Susan Schulten (who also edited the book) along with reproductions of Willard’s maps, atlases and time charts (for example, the 1828 set of maps that accompanied her History of the United States, or Republic of America), which proved hugely influential in terms of using maps in pedagogy, as well as historical maps and graphical depictions of time. The book is part of a series, Information Graphic Visionaries, that was the subject of a successful Kickstarter last year. Outside of that crowdfunding campaign, the book can be ordered from the publisher for $95 (it’s on sale right now for $85). [Matthew Edney]
Previously: Emma Willard’s History of the United States; Women in Cartography (Part 3).
New Map Exhibition in Leiden
“When looking at maps, we should always be mindful of the question: Who is mapping what and for what purpose?” A new exhibition at the Museum Volkskunde in Leiden, in collaboration with Leiden University Libraries, Kaarten: navigeren en manipuleren [Maps: Navigating and Manipulating], which opened last month, gathers together contemporary art and antique maps from their respective collections to explore the question of truth and perspective in maps. One example: a “serio-comic map” from the Crimean war (in Dutch). Another video, also in Dutch. Runs until 29 October 2023. Tickets 15€ or less.
New Osher Exhibition on Mapping New England’s Textile Industry
The Osher Map Library’s latest physical exhibition, Industry, Wealth, and Labor: Mapping New England’s Textile Industry, opened last Thursday. “Inspired by the map library’s recent acquisition of a collection of textile mill insurance plans and historic maps from the American Textile History Museum, this exhibition addresses the temporal, geographic, and demographic components of New England’s cotton textile industry from the early 19th century until the middle of the 20th century.” Free admission; runs until 30 June 2023.
Yale’s Work on Map Forgeries
As the keepers of the Vinland Map, the folks at Yale’s Beinecke Library might be expected to have a few thoughts about map forgeries, seeing as the Vinland Map is arguably the best known example. In an article posted to the Beinecke Library website last July, Raymond Clemens discusses the work of Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage to determine the Vinland Map’s inauthenticity, and detecting map forgeries in general. Yale seems to be making a point of studying map forgeries, to the point of adding known forgeries to their collections.
Southeast Asia Historical Maps
The Digital Historical Maps of Singapore and Southeast Asia project, hosted by (the soon-to-be-defunct) Yale-NUS College in Singapore, curates a collection of pre-1900 maps of southeast Asia. The maps are drawn from the Bodleian, Beinecke and Leiden libraries, as well as Singapore’s National Library Board. [Maps Mania]
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