Mapping an Atlantic World, circa 1500

Amazon (Canada, UK)
Bookshop

Out tomorrow from Johns Hopkins University Press, Alida C. Metcalf’s Mapping an Atlantic World, circa 1500 explores how sixteenth-century European maps conceptualized a new, Atlantic-centred world. From the publisher: “Metcalf explains why Renaissance cosmographers first incorporated sailing charts into their maps and began to reject classical models for mapping the world. Combined with the new placement of the Atlantic, the visual imagery on Atlantic maps—which featured decorative compass roses, animals, landscapes, and native peoples—communicated the accessibility of distant places with valuable commodities. Even though individual maps became outdated quickly, Metcalf reveals, new mapmakers copied their imagery, which then repeated on map after map. Individual maps might fall out of date, be lost, discarded, or forgotten, but their geographic and visual design promoted a new way of seeing the world, with an interconnected Atlantic World at its center.” [WMS]

John G. Bartholomew, 100 Years After His Death

John G. BartholomewA short piece in the Edinburgh Evening News last April noted the 100th anniversary of the death of John G. Bartholomew (1860-1920), the fourth of six generations of mapmaking Bartholomews; their firm, John Bartholomew and Son, was responsible for the Times atlases before they were taken up by HarperCollins.

Speaking of his ancestor’s legacy, great-grandson, John Eric Bartholomew, told the Evening News that the fact John George Bartholomew is recognised as the man credited with being the first to put the name Antarctica on the map remains a great source of pride.

Little known is that, in 1886, Bartholomew had a brief flirtation with considering the name “Antipodea” for oceanographer John Murray’s map depicting the continent, before settling for Antarctica.

More about John G. Bartholomew at the Bartholomew family’s website and the NLS’s Bartholomew Archive. [WMS]

Previously: Robert G. Bartholomew, 1927-2017.

‘With Savage Pictures Fill Their Gaps’: Chet Van Duzer on Horror Vacui

Chet Van Duzer’s presentation about the lack of empty spaces on old maps—horror vacui—at the November 2017 meeting of the New York Map Society has now been uploaded to YouTube.

As I’ve said before, the subject of empty spaces on maps is of considerable interest to my own research on fantasy maps: fantasy maps tend to be full of empty spaces not germane to the story, whereas real-world maps were covered in cartouches, sea monsters, and ribbons of text. As a result I’m very interested in what Van Duzer has to say about the subject, and have been looking for something exactly like this recorded talk for some time.

I wasn’t disappointed. Van Duzer lays out, with some particularly over the top examples, how empty spaces on maps were consumed (his term) by text, ships, sea monsters and other embellishments that were designed for that very purpose. Some of those embellishments were absolutely enormous, others curiously redundant: a single map does not need four identical scales or a dozen or more compass roses, for example. “Everything we’re seeing here was a choice on the part of the cartographer,” he says at one point; “all this information could be disposed differently.”

Previously: Horror Vacui: The Fear of Blank Spaces.

A U.S. Army Film from 1971: ‘Mapping a Better Tomorrow’

“Mapping a Better Tomorrow” is a 30-minute film produced in 1971 to explain the work of the U.S. Army Topographic Command (TOPOCOM). After explaining maps from first principles, it covers the state of the art in terms of cartography, computer mapping, photogrammetry and surveying circa 1971, including the production of topographic maps, maps of the Moon and maps of, erm, southeast Asia. Since U.S. government publications are public domain, it’s available in several locations, including the Internet Archive (above), DailyMotion and Vimeo.

TOPOCOM itself had a short history. Created in 1968 (PDF) as the successor to the U.S. Army Map Service, it lasted less than four years before being merged into the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) in 1972. Which in turn was merged into the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) in 1996. Which in turn was renamed the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in 2003.

The History of Cartography’s Fourth Volume, Now (Almost) Out

I believe that today is (nominally) the publication date of the fourth volume in the History of Cartography Project: The History of Cartography, Volume 4: Cartography in the European Enlightenment.

The History of Cartography, Vol. 4As with other volumes of the project, it’s a massive piece of work: two physical volumes and nearly two thousand pages. Edited by Matthew H. Edney and Mary Spondberg Pedley and featuring the work of more than 200 contributors, this book “offers a comprehensive overview of the cartographic practices of Europeans, Russians, and the Ottomans, both at home and in overseas territories, from 1650 to 1800.”

I say “nominally” because, Edney reports, “the entire print run of the book is being held at the printers in Manitoba until the pandemic recedes and there is someone at the press warehouse to receive the shipment and get the hard copies into everyone’s hands. So, please be patient.” The ebook version is in preparation.

The History of Cartography Project is being published a bit out of sequence. Volume six, covering the twentieth century, came out in 2015. Still to come is volume five, which covers the nineteenth century. Volume five editor Roger Kain has some thoughts on the history of the History of Cartography project.

While quite expensive to purchase, each volume is made available for free download on the History of Cartography project website 24 months after publication. Volumes one through three and six are available now; check back for volume four in the spring of 2022.

Previously: History of Cartography Project’s Sixth Volume Now Out; History of Cartography Project’s Sixth Volume Now Available Online; History of Cartography Project Updates.


The History of Cartography, Vol. 4, Part 1The History of Cartography, Volume 4: Cartography in the European Enlightenment
edited by Matthew H. Edney and Mary Spondberg Pedley
University of Chicago Press, April 2020
Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

Restoring the Grand Canyon Relief Model

A large relief model of the Grand Canyon, created by Edwin Howell in 1875, has resided in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Science Hall since 1980. The History of Cartography project’s offices are also in Science Hall. Lindsey Buscher, an editor on that project, wanted to include a photo of the relief model in the forthcoming fifth volume (which covers the 19th century), but the model was in too rough a state to be photographed. So they hired a professional conservator to restore the model: the results can be seen above. Now not only will the model’s photo be in the book, it’ll be on the cover. [Tom Patterson]

Inō Tadataka, Surveyor of Japan

National Diet Library

Britain had the Ordnance Survey, France the Cassini family. Japan had Inō Tadataka (伊能 忠敬, 1745-1818), who over a series of expeditions in the early 19th century conducted a systematic survey of Japan using modern techniques. Writing for Nippon.com, Inō’s biographer, Hoshino Yoshihisa, writes a long introduction to Inō’s life and work that is well worth the read. [Tony Campbell]

For more on the history of Japanese cartography, see Cartographic Japan, a collection of academic essays edited by Kären Wigen, Sugimoto Fumiko and Cary Karacas that was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016.

H-Maps, a New Discussion List About Map History

Despite the imminent shutdown of Yahoo Groups, and the lamented demise of MapHist in 2012, discussion lists are still a thing, it seems: H-Net, that venerable purveyor of academic discussion lists since I was in academia, has, with the collaboration of the International Society for the History of the Map, launched H-Maps, “an international digital forum in the historical study of the making, circulation, use and preservation of maps from the ancient to the contemporary period.” Scholarly in focus, to be sure.

Tony Campbell lists other discussion lists related to map history here.

Cartography: The Ideal and Its History

Cartography (cover)
Amazon
Apple Books
Bookshop

Matthew H. Edney’s Cartography: The Ideal and Its History (University of Chicago Press, April) is a full-throated jeremiad against the concept of cartography itself—the ideal of cartography, which after 237 densely argued pages Edney says “is quite simply indefensible.” Or as the subtitle to the first chapter states: “There is no such thing as cartography, and this is a book about it.”

On the surface this is a startling argument to make, particularly for Edney, who holds two roles that are very much about cartography and its history: he’s the Osher Professor in the History of Cartography at the University of Southern Maine (where, among other things, he’s affiliated with the Osher Map Library) and the current director of the History of Cartography Project. With this book, Edney is essentially undermining the foundations of his own profession.

Continue reading “Cartography: The Ideal and Its History”

Monmonier’s Latest: Connections and Content

Mark Monmonier’s latest book, Connections and Content: Reflections on Networks and the History of Cartography (Esri Press, August ebook/September paperback) is about “the relationships between networks and maps”—what does that mean? Apparently: triangulation networks, postal networks, telegraph networks survey networks, astronomical observations and other underlying data. Steven Seegel interviews Monmonier about the book for the New Books in Geography podcast. [Amazon]

‘How to Draw a Map’ Is Not About How to Draw a Map

In How to Draw a Map (HarperCollins UK, September), father and son cartographers Alexander and Malcolm Swanston provide “a fascinating meditation on the centuries-old art of map-making, from the first astronomical maps to the sophisticated GPS guides of today.” In other words, title not to be taken literally: as you can tell from the online excerpt available here, it’s a potted history of mapmaking—a familiar genre around these parts. [Amazon, Apple Books]

History of Cartography Project Updates

The first three volumes of the History of Cartography Project will be published in Chinese next year, “completing a translation project that began in 2014,” the Project announced on Facebook last week.

The Project was one subject of an international seminar on the history of cartography held at Yunnan University last month. Project director Matthew Edney gave the opening remarks, the text of which is here.

Meanwhile, Volume Four is in galleys and is now scheduled for publication in January 2020, and work continues on Volume Five. Volume Six, covering the 20th century, came out in 2015.

(Remember that the first three volumes, plus Volume Six, are available as free downloads.)

First You Make the Maps

Portolan chart signed by Gabriel de Vallseca, ca. 1447. Bibliothèque nationale de France. Wikimedia Commons.

First You Make the Maps, a Story Map produced for Lapham’s Quarterly by Elizabeth Della Zazzera, surveys maps and mapmaking for sea navigation from the 15th through the 18th centuries.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, European powers sent voyagers to lands farther and farther away from the continent in an expansionist period we now call the Age of Exploration. These journeys were propelled by religious fervor and fierce colonial sentiment—and an overall desire for new trade routes. They would not have been possible without the rise of modern cartography. While geographically accurate maps had existed before, the Age of Exploration saw the emergence of a sustained tradition of topographic surveying. Maps were being made specifically to guide travelers. Technology progressed quickly through the centuries, helping explorers and traders find their way to new imperial outposts—at least sometimes. On other occasions, hiccups in cartographic reasoning led their users even farther astray.

[Kottke]

Joseph E. Schwartzberg, 1928-2018

The History of Cartography Project notes the passing of Joseph E. Schwartzberg, who died on 18 September at the age of 90. A geographer, peace activist and world federalist, he specialized in the cartography of south Asia, editing the 1978 Historical Atlas of South Asia and serving as associate editor for books one and two of the third volume of The History of Cartography, for which he also wrote eleven chapters. Obituary in the Star Tribune.