Another one in French. Last month, Radio-Canada had the story of a manuscript map of the St. Lawrence River that was recently acquired by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The 18th-century map takes three sheets to trace the course of the St. Lawrence from the Ottawa River to Anticosti Island, and the BANQ’s map librarians have concluded that it’s the work of French philosophe and cartographer Jean-Nicolas Bellin. The map can be viewed on the BANQ’s website, which those who can’t read French should be able to manage. [WMS]
National Geographic has digitized its entire map archive—every map the magazine has published since 1888, more than six thousand of them—but you won’t be able to browse through it. (Subscribers can access the maps through their digital archive by consulting the issues they first appeared, but, again, no public access to the database.) What they’re doing instead is posting them through social media channels, forming the basis of “Map of the Day” posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Can’t help but feel they’re teasing us a bit.
The University of Lausanne has come across a pair of globes—one celestial, one terrestrial—made by Mercator in the 16th century. Mercator apparently had a reputation as a globemaker, and a number of his globes are still in existence today. But “not particularly rare” is not the same as “not particularly interesting,” and the globes, which first turned up on campus in 2004, are now the subject of an exhibition at the Espace Arlaud in Lausanne, which runs until 15 July, and an extensive and detailed website that talks about the globes and how they were discovered and authenticated. Digital versions of each globe have also been produced: here’s the terrestrial globe; here’s the celestial globe.
All of this, by the way, is in French. If reading French is not your thing, the Harvard Map Collection also has a pair of Mercator globes, which you can view via their (rather dated) website.
More on Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map, which, you may remember, the Rumsey Collection digitally assembled into a single map from 60 manuscript pages. Now Visionscarto has taken it a step further, with a web tool that reprojects a map into other projections, taking the map’s original polar azimuthal equidistant projection and transmogrifying it into 20 other projections. Yes, sure, the Mercator is one of them, but so are the Goode Homolosine, the Hammer—even the Dymaxion. The tool is available on both the Visioncarto and Rumsey Collection websites. [David Rumsey]
Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State, which opened on 20 April at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, “traces the cartographic history of Texas from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries” through a small (26 item) collection of maps and documents, all of which are reproductions. Press release. [WMS]
At the Grolier Club in New York, Westward the Course of Empire: Exploring and Settling the American West, 1803-1869, an exhibition of maps from the collection of J. C. McElveen Jr. 50 maps on display, including Lewis and Clark’s map of the Northwest. Press release. [WMS]
Last month the MetroWest Daily News profiled Framington, MA map dealer Carole Spack of Original Antique Maps, whose path to the business sounds rather familiar: “Six years ago, she bought several 150-year-old maps of Worcester County showing towns that were later submerged when the area was flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir, where she often hikes. Intrigued by their detailed evocation of a vanished time, Spack has since acquired 2,000 rare maps ranging from Colonial America to rural China all the way to hand-colored engravings of the ‘Geography of the Heavens’ by an obscure early-19th century astronomer.” [WMS]
A map drawn by an Indigenous guide for Lewis and Clark, recently discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, is the subject of an entire issue of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s journal, We Proceeded On. (The issue is not available online.) The map was drawn some time in 1805 by Too Né, a member of the Arikara tribe who in 1804 travelled with the Lewis and Clark expedition in what is now North Dakota, and shows the extent of the territory known to the Arikara at that time.
Christopher Steinke, now a history professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, encountered the map during his graduate studies; he wrote it up for the October 2014 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, which also published an interactive version of the map on its website. (Here’s a link to Steinke’s article.)
Indigenous historians and William and Clark scholars don’t appear to talk to one another very much, which is why it’s taken until now for the latter to get so excited about the map Steinke discovered—which in my view is much more interesting and significant as an example of Indigenous mapmaking than it is as a piece of Lewis and Clark lore.
Here’s the press release from the Foundation, and here’s We Proceeded On editor Clay Jenkinson on what the map means for “Lewis and Clark obsessives.” [Tony Campbell/WMS]
The general consensus is that the Vinland Map is a modern forgery, not a pre-Columbian 15th-century map showing Norse explorations of North America. That doesn’t seem to stop Yale University from continuing to study the map, which is held in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The map is being subjected to a battery of non-destructive tests to provide better and more precise physical data about its parchment and ink. The results will be published in a forthcoming book edited by Raymond Clemens, who for the record does not believe the map is authentic. (Neither do I, for what it’s worth.) [GeoLounge]
The Vinland Map is also being put on display for the first time in half a century. It’ll be at the Mystic Seaport’s R. J. Schaefer Gallery in Mystic, CT from 19 May to 30 September.
The definitive book on the Vinland Map, though it may have been overtaken by later investigations and claims, is Kristin A. Seaver’s Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map (Stanford University Press, 2004).
The third edition of Mark Monmonier’s classic How to Lie with Maps (University of Chicago Press, 1o April) “includes significant updates throughout as well as new chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and online maps. It also includes an expanded section of color images and an updated list of sources for further reading.” I reviewed the second edition back in May 2006. Amazon, iBooks
The Phantom Atlas, Edward Brooke-Hitching’s book about fictitious places that were once presented as real places, came out in the U.K. in November 2016. Though North American buyers could get a copy via online sellers, a proper U.S. edition (Chronicle, 3 April) is now available. The Wall Street Journal, of all places, has a review. Previously: The Phantom Atlas; More on Two Books About Nonexistent Places. Amazon, iBooks (U.K. edition, U.S. edition)
New in April
Zayde Antrim’s Mapping the Middle East (Reaktion, 1 April) “explores the many perspectives from which people have visualized the vast area lying between the Atlantic Ocean and the Oxus and Indus river valleys over the past millennium. By analysing maps produced from the eleventh century on, Zayde Antrim emphasizes the deep roots of mapping in a world region too often considered unexamined and unchanging before the modern period. Indeed, maps from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, coinciding with the eras of European colonialism and the rise of the nation-state, have obscured this deeper past and constrained future possibilities.” Amazon
Jeremy Black’s Mapping Shakespeare: An Exploration of Shakespeare’s Worlds Through Maps (Conway, 10 April) “looks at the England, Europe, and wider world in which Shakespeare worked through maps and illustrations that reveal the way that he and his contemporaries saw their land and their place in the world. It also explores the locations of his plays and looks at the possible inspirations for these and why Shakespeare would have chosen to set his stories there.” Amazon, iBooks
The Art of Map Illustration: A Step-by-Step Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Cartography and Mapmaking (Walter Foster, 3 April), an illustrated guide featuring the work and method of four map illustrators (James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill and Sarah King), was reviewed on The Map Room earlier this month. Amazon
Related: Map Books of 2018.
The Texas A&M University Libraries has acquired a rare copy of Stephen F. Austin’s 1830 map of Texas. Called “the first map of Texas printed in the United States” and “the first meaningful map of Texas” (presumably there’s an earlier map of Coahuila y Tejas out there), only eight copies of the 1830 edition are known to survive. (Above is a scan of the Library of Congress’s copy.) The map will be on temporary display from today through May 4th and will be the centrepiece of a future exhibition. KBTX-TV, press release. [Tony Campbell]
The David Rumsey Map Collection has a number of virtual globes, but its AR Globe app may be the most unusual way to view them. Released last December for the iPhone and iPad, it uses augmented reality to superimpose one of seven celestial or terrestrial globes from the 15th through 19th centuries. The globes can be manipulated—spun, zoomed in and out—or observed from the inside (which is a good thing with celestial globes).
To be honest I’m not sold on using augmented reality to view virtual globes. It’s one thing to use AR to superimpose IKEA furniture in your living room: that makes sense, because it helps you visualize where the furniture would go and what it would look like. But it’s hard to see the utility of plunking a virtual globe in your living room: what’s the point of adding your surroundings as a backdrop? Case in point:
It’s neat but not particularly useful, is what I’m saying.
In April 2017, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh made a shocking discovery in the course of a routine insurance appraisal of its rare book holdings in the library’s main Oakland branch: some 314 rare books, folios, maps and plates were missing. News of the thefts was finally made public last month: see coverage from CBS Pittsburgh, Hyperallergic, Library Journal, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Smithsonian magazine, among others. The police do have suspects in the thefts, which had apparently taken place over a long period of time; the total value of the stolen items is around $5 million. A full list of the stolen items (PDF) has been posted, and includes maps by Hondius, Jefferys, Ogilby and Ortelius, as well as two copies of the Italian translation of Ptolemy’s Geography. Make no mistake: as thefts of rare maps and books go, this is a staggeringly large incident. [Tony Campbell]
An exhibition of astronomical maps and illustrations opened this week at the Osher Map Library in Portland, Maine. Art of the Spheres: Picturing the Cosmos since 1600 is, at least in its online version, divided into two categories: Works of Scientific Investigation features chromolithographs of various astronomical phenomena, the moon, planets and deep sky objects from The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings (1881); Popular and Pedagogic Works includes celestial globes, charts and other graphical representations of the universe. Runs until 6 October.
Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces is the latest exhibition put on by the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.
Boston boasts some of the nation’s most recognizable and cherished green spaces, from Boston Common, to the Emerald Necklace, to hundreds of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, tot lots, community gardens, playing fields, cemeteries, and urban wilds. In this exhibition, you will learn how the country’s oldest public park grew from a grazing pasture to an iconic recreational and social center, how 19th-century reformers came to view parks as environmental remedies for ill health, how innovative landscape architects fashioned green oases in the midst of a booming metropolis, and what the future holds for Boston’s open spaces. As you explore three centuries of open space in Boston, perhaps you will feel inspired to go outside and discover the green spaces in your own backyard.