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]
We Are One: Mapping America’s Road from Revolution to Independence, an exhibition by the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center (it ran from May to November last year) is going on tour. First stop: Colonial Williamsburg. From March 2016 to January 2017 it will appear at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. From the press release: “More than 30 unique objects from Colonial Williamsburg’s collections will be included in the exhibition, which were not shown when it initially opened at the Boston Public Library in May 2015. […] Many of the objects from Colonial Williamsburg’s collection to be seen in We Are One are on view for the first time or are rarely exhibited.” [via]
Previously: Mapping the American Revolution.
I’ve blogged about the Tabula Peutingeriana before. It was a medieval copy of a fourth- or fifth-century map of the Roman road network. Combined, its 11 sheets form a scroll 6.82 metres long and only 34 centimetres wide, with territories elongated beyond modern recognition; it was basically the classical period’s equivalent of a TripTik or Beck network map. The sole remaining copy is held by the National Library of Austria: it’s too fragile to put on display, though an exception was made for a single day in 2007.
Anyway. During my online meanderings today I stumbled across two academic books about the Tabula that I was previously unaware of: The Medieval Peutinger Map: Imperial Roman Revival in a German Empire by Emily Albu (2014) and Rome’s World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered by Richard J. A. Talbert (2010). Both from Cambridge University Press, neither cheap.
The Nation has a long article by Paula Findlen on the Selden Map, a Chinese watercolour map acquired by the 17th-century jurist and scholar John Selden and bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in 1659. Findlen recounts the origins of the map and its rediscovery in the Bodleian’s vaults in 2008, and describes it in intricate detail. [via]
The map’s rediscovery has set off a flurry of interest and publications (see book list below). Findlen also looks at the scholarly debates about the map.Brook and Batchelor have both written books about the Selden map, and each scholar takes a somewhat different approach to framing the story and to interpreting a reconstruction of the document’s origins. Yet they concur that this is a Chinese maritime map and a product of late-Ming ambitions, enterprise, and mobility,” she writes.
Books About the Selden Map:
- London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689 by Robert K. Batchelor (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Amazon (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks
- Mr. Selden’s Map of China: Decoding the Secrets of a Vanished Cartographer by Timothy Brook (Bloomsbury [U.S.], House of Anansi [Canada], Profile [U.K.], 2013).
Amazon (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks (Canada, U.K.)
- The Selden Map of China: A New Understanding of the Ming Dynasty by Hongping Annie Nie (Bodleian Libraries, 2014).
Available as a PDF in English and Chinese.
Opening today at the Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille, France, and running until May 2nd, Made in Algeria: Généalogie d’un territoire is an exhibition of nearly 200 “maps, drawings, paintings, photographs, films and historical documents as well as works by contemporary artists who surveyed the territory of Algeria.” The exhibition examines not only the cartography of the French colonial period, but the political and cultural narratives—to say nothing of the territory itself—created by colonial mapmaking. Lots of material on the exhibition’s website, but it’s French-only. [via]
NPR and the Washington Post report a fascinating story of how a rare atlas was identified in an unlikely fashion: being posted to Reddit. Last month, reference librarian Anders Kvernberg stumbled across an uncatalogued atlas in the vaults of the National Library of Norway. He could make out that it was an Ottoman atlas from 1803, but not much more than that, since he couldn’t read Ottoman Turkish. He did scan and post one of its maps to Reddit, where Redditors went to work translating the text. Then, a couple of weeks later, another Redditor posted an Ottoman map of Africa, which was identified as part of the Cedid Atlas (Cedid Atlas Tercümesi), published in Istanbul in 1803. The Library of Congress has a copy, which it acquired in 1998, digitized, and put online. Kvernberg went and looked—and, he says, “started recognising the scans. Then I realized this was the very same atlas I had held in my hands a few weeks earlier.” The Cedid Atlas was rare: only 50 were printed, and only 14 were known to be held in public institutions. It turns out that the National Library of Norway has the 15th. [via]
The National Geographic website has an interview with Richard H. Brown and Paul E. Cohen, authors of Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, 1755-1783 (W. W. Norton, October 2015). In the interview, Brown says that “some of the best collections of Revolutionary War maps have been among the least used. Historians tended to use the same maps over and over again to illustrate their narratives. What we did is to take the opposite view. We wanted the maps to tell the story, so we picked maps that we thought would tell the story of the battles best.” Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)
Persuasive cartography: it’s a term I haven’t encountered before, though I’ve seen kind of maps it refers to: propagandistic art that uses cartography to make a point—think of all those caricature maps leading up to World War I. Many of them can be found in Cornell University Library’s P. J. Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography: there are more than 300 maps available online, plus some pages about the genre. (Above: a 1951 map from the French Communist Party that takes a pro-Soviet line against the U.S. military.) [via]
On New Year’s Eve The Arts Newspaper reported on the British Library’s efforts to digitize the 50,000 maps and plans that make up the King George III Topographical Collection. (George III was apparently quite the map collector, one not above choosing not to return maps he borrowed.) They’re about a quarter of the way through so far. The collection’s crown jewel, so to speak, is the ludicrously large (176 × 231 cm) Klencke Atlas.