A Japanese Cartography Update

cartographic-japanIn the Los Angeles Review of Books, Miriam Kingsberg reviews Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps (University of Chicago Press, March 2016), a collection of essays on the history of Japanese mapmaking edited by Kären Wigen, Sugimoto Fumiko and Cary Karacas (see previous entry). “Cartographic Japan constitutes a significant addition to the academic literature on the history of Japanese mapping. Much like the works it describes, the volume may also be treasured as a piece of art and collector’s item in its own right.” Amazon, iBooks. [WMS]

Meanwhile, a seventeenth-century map of a legendary Japanese fortress has been discovered in a museum’s collection of paintings, the Asahi Shimbun reports. [WMS]

After the Map

after-the-mapWilliam Rankin’s After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century is out this month from the University of Chicago Press (AmazoniBooks). The book’s website explains in depth what it’s about, and makes all the book’s illustrations and data available for free download. [GIS Lounge]

This book can be read at two scales. Narrowly, it is a history of the mapping sciences in the twentieth century that situates technologies like GPS within a longer trajectory of spatial knowledge. But more expansively, by connecting geographic knowledge to territorial politics and new ways of navigating the world, it is also a political and cultural history of geographic space itself.

I’ve posted a few of Rankin’s earlier projects for the Radical Cartography website on The Map Room; see for example City Income Donuts and The World’s Population by Latitude and Longitude.

See also: Map Books of 2016.

A-Z at 80

Geographers' A-Z Map Company
Geographers’ A-Z Map Company

The Geographers’ A-Z Map Company, which produces the iconic A-Z Maps line, is marking its 80th anniversary this year by posting a series of photos of company memorabilia—they plan 80 photos over 80 days. So far I’m particularly fascinated by the mapmaking tools and processes, like this scribing tool, this type layer and these negatives—all from the time when maps were photo typeset (only three decades ago!). [WMS]

The Origins of North at the Top of Maps

BBC Future’s Caroline Williams explores the following question: why do modern maps have north at the top? “Given such a long history of human map-making, it is perhaps surprising that it is only within the last few hundred years that north has been consistently considered to be at the top.” Early European maps had east at the top (orientation is derived from orient, or east); Islamic maps faced south. When maps changed to north-at-top is difficult to pinpoint, or at least the article has difficulty in doing so, but it came relatively late in history. (Thanks to Denis Dooley for the link.)

The Great Lines Project

With the Great Lines Project, Karen Rann explores the history and origins of the contour line. In addition to her rather heavily illustrated blog, there’s a related exhibition, the Great Lines Exhibition (naturally enough), which opens today at the Lit & Phil (Literary and Philosophical Society) in Newcastle. Free admission. Details here and here. [WMS]

Update, 9 June: More from CityLab.

Worldly Consumers and the Historical Accessibility of Maps

worldly-consumersI have a longstanding interest in the extent to which people throughout history could access cultural production: books, music and so forth. Essentially, the economics of cultural life. So when I was poking around the University of Chicago Press website last month (previously), I was very interested to stumble across a book that came out last year: Genevieve Carlton’s Worldly Consumers: The Demand for Maps in Renaissance Italy (Amazon, iBooks), which examines the ways in which private individuals had access to maps. As you can imagine, very relevant to my interests.

It’s certainly not the only book relevant to those interests. There’s Susan Schulten’s and Martin Brückner’s work, of course; and I should also take a look at Christine Marie Petto’s When France Was King of Cartography: The Patronage and Production of Maps in Early Modern France (Amazon, iBooks). Expensive monographs all; methinks I need a university library card.

Previously: The Social Life of Maps.

Maps and Civilization, Fourth Edition

While poking around the University of Chicago Press website yesterday, I noticed that a fourth edition of Norman J. W. Thrower’s history of cartography textbook, Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, is due out this month: Amazon. The changes from the third edition (Amazon, iBooks) appear to be limited: “For the fourth edition of Maps and Civilization, Thrower has added an additional chapter that serves to bring the volume completely up to date.” My gaps in cartographic knowledge are such that I’ve never read this book; this may be an opportunity to rectify that.

History of Cartography Project’s Sixth Volume Now Out

History of Cartography Volume 6 (book covers)

The sixth volume of the massive History of Cartography Project, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, is now available. Edited by Mark Monmonier, it takes two physical volumes and nearly two thousand pages to cover mapmaking in the twentieth century—and lists for an eye-popping $500 (U.S.), though it’s a bit cheaper on Amazon.

Volumes one through three are available for free download. Volumes four and five, covering the European Enlightenment and the nineteenth century, respectively, are still in development.

Previously: History of Cartography Project Co-Founder Dies.

Two More Map Books

Book cover: London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City Book cover: Map Worlds: A History of Women in Cartography

Two more map books, this time of an academic bent:

Review: A History of the World in Twelve Maps

If somebody who was vaguely interested in maps wanted a book to get them started, I think I might point them toward A History of the World in Twelve Maps, written by Renaissance Studies professor Jerry Brotton. This book first appeared in September 2012 in Great Britain, where it’s now out in paperback. The U.S. edition came out last month in hardcover.

It’s a history of cartography that takes a rather unique approach: instead of providing a straight narrative history, Brotton focuses on twelve maps (or, more precisely, mapmaking endeavours), ranging from Ptolemy’s Geography to Google Earth. But Brotton does a lot more than talk about just twelve maps.

Continue reading “Review: A History of the World in Twelve Maps”

A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox

Book cover: A Renaissance Globemaker's Toolbox Briefly noted: A Renaissance
Globemaker’s Toolbox: Johannes Schöner and the Revolution of Modern Science
, John Hessler’s biography of German priest, astronomer and mathematician Johannes Schöner (1477-1547), an early globemaker who, among other things, created the first printed celestial globe gores as well as globe gores for Martin Waldseemüller’s world maps.

The survival of Schöner’s notes and annotations is unique in the history of cartography; not only do they show his thinking about theoretical and practical geography, but they also reveal the art of mapmaking during his lifetime. John Hessler discusses Schöner’s opinions on the canonical geography of Ptolemy, his reaction to the new discoveries of Columbus and Vespucci, and his involvement in the new astronomy of Copernicus. Schöner’s surviving notebooks, manuscripts, and associations with other scientists of the period offer unprecedented insight into the history of these materials, and into the geographical and astronomical concerns that fuelled the birth of modern science development during this critical period in its development.

Buy at Amazon | book website | publisher’s page

The Measure of Manhattan

Book cover: The Measure of Manhattan Another mapmaker is getting a book-length biography. The Measure of Manhattan, Marguerite Holloway’s biography of surveyor John Randel, Jr. (1787-1865), whose decade-long survey of the island of Manhattan was the basis for that city’s street grid, comes out in February. Via BLDGBLOG, who blurbed it: “Marguerite Holloway’s engaging survey takes us step by step through the challenges of obsolete land laws and outdated maps of an earlier metropolis, looking for—and finding—the future shape of this immeasurable city.” Buy at Amazon | publisher’s page

Mapping the Nation

Book cover: Mapping the Nation Susan Schulten, a history professor at the University of Denver, writes to let me know about her new book, Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America, out this month from University of Chicago Press.

From the publisher’s page: “Today, statistical and thematic maps are so ubiquitous that we take for granted that data will be arranged cartographically. Whether for urban planning, public health, marketing, or political strategy, maps have become everyday tools of social organization, governance, and economics. The world we inhabit—saturated with maps and graphic information—grew out of this sea change in spatial thought and representation in the nineteenth century, when Americans learned to see themselves and their nation in new dimensions.”

This sounds very interesting. Her previous book, The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950, came out in 2001. I may have to pick up both: maps and the history of mentalities is too much to resist.

Buy at Amazon | publisher’s page | website