Mapmaking dates to at least the late 15th century, just a few decades after Gutenberg’s introduction of the first moveable type printing press. By the time of Queen Elizabeth’s reign during the second half of the 16th century, people were already collecting these documents, which were usually bound in books, making them important additions to any self-respecting library.

Some of the most desirable early maps are the colorful engravings from the 1500s, which were quick to integrate, as best they could, the intelligence gleaned from voyages by such explorers as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Giovanni Caboto, an Italian whose name is frequently shortened to Cabot. The first of these was Johann Ruysch’s 1507 map showing the New World, which was produced more than a decade before Ferdinand Magellan’s crew completed their late-captain’s circumnavigation of the world.

Gerard Mercator’s “Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio,” which was reproduced by his son Rumold in 1587 and published in numerous books and atlases after his death in 1594, gave viewers an equatorial azimuthal equidistant projection (in other words, the equator is the only non-curving latitude in the map) of the world divided into two hemispheres, depicting what we now call North and South America on the left and Africa, Europe, and Asia on the right.

By 1627, the famous London cartographer John Speed produced a decorative, double-hemisphere map of his own, which is notable for showing the state of California as an island. More than 100 years later, in 1750, Emanuel Bowen’s Mercator projection world map, in which all the latitudes and longitudes are parallel, got Baja California correct, but left the northwest corner of North America empty and unmapped.

If the geography depicted on world maps was occasionally a bit fuzzy, cartographers did a better job capturing more familiar places such as cities and towns. Sebastian Munster’s 1552 map of London used the woodblock printing technique to show streets to scale, outsize ships in the Thames, and noblemen and women in the foreground as a decorative touch. By comparison, John Rocque’s 1746 map of the same city almost looks like a satellite photograph—visitors to the city today could probably use it and not get too lost.

Some of the earliest regional maps of North America and the United States were produced by Europeans. Henry Hondius of The Hague created a map of Virginia in 1633 based on an original provided by Captain John Smith, who settled Jamestown. Amsterdam-based cartographer Jan Jansson created definitive maps of the northeast in 1666, and Francis Lamb engraved a decorative map of the Carolina coastline for Londoner John Speed in 1676.

As with Rocque’s 1746 map of London, Robert Sayer and John Bennett’s 1776 map of Florida looks surprisingly contemporary. And Joseph Colton’s large 1854 wall map of the United States is extremely accurate, with states, territories, and topographical features captured in loving detail.


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WESTPORT ESTATE SALE By Within Reason CT
The Daily Voice, January 30th

Ottoman, Round Oak Table & 4 Chairs, Upholstered Armchair, Leather Ottoman, Henredon Coffee Table, Beds, Side Tables, Steuben Glass, Lighting, Glassware, Crystal, Vintage Bottles, Bronze Sculptures, Antique Maps, Pottery, American Slot Machine c...Read more

New exhibit to juxtapose historic maps, map-themed art
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 30th

Many of the artists have conducted research into the BHS map collection and have selected the historic maps that will be shown alongside their work. Participating artists include Aaron Beebe, Daniel Bejar, Francisca Benitez, Gail Biederman, Justin...Read more

The 46th Annual Chappaqua Antiques Show
Maine Antique Digest, January 29th

Antique maps, vintage poster art, barware, and kitchen items from the 1930s-50s, vintage clothing, Oriental rugs, “whimsical country,” majolica, and other decorative accessories filled the school's hallways. The show used to be held outdoors at the...Read more

Marketta Gregory: Time to start
Mail Tribune, January 28th

My favorite journal is brown with antique maps wrapped around its cover. Just inside it carries a 2008 inscription from my husband. Words of love and encouragement. Words that urge me to “become intoxicated by the fragrance of every flower that makes...Read more

California artist Ed Ruscha the subject of McNay show
San Antonio Express-News, January 27th

Amber Wilcox evokes a similar sense of nostalgia with a magnificently drawn buffalo on a vintage map of Oklahoma, while de la Cruz's rendition of the Randy's Ballroom sign will bring back back a lot of memories for San Antonians who visited that one...Read more

See Thousands of Antique Maps and Collect a Piece of History at the 22nd ...
Rock Hill Herald (press release), January 27th

The 22nd Annual Miami International Map Fair will feature over 40 national and international antiquarian map dealers from all over the world, exhibiting over thousands of rare, authentic antique maps within the museum's exhibition galleries. ... The...Read more

22nd Annual Miami International Map Fair Features Over 40 Dealers, 2/6
Broadway World, January 27th

The 22nd Annual Miami International Map Fair will feature over 40 national and international antiquarian map dealers from all over the world, exhibiting over thousands of rare, authentic antique maps within the museum's exhibition galleries. ... The...Read more

Picturing the First Boom: Images of Gold Rush San Francisco
KQED, January 6th

(W.H. Dougal/David Rumsey Historical Map Collection). Above: And here's what the rapidly growing city looked like from the shore of Yerba Buena Island in 1852. Wood engraving by F. Hickock. Courtesy Library of Congress (F. Hickock/Library of Congress)...Read more