With very few exceptions maps were first printed in the second half of the 15th century. Those in the Rudimentum novitiarum published at Lubeck in 1475 are from woodcuts, while the maps in the first two editions of Ptolemy published in Italy in 1472 are from copper plates. Wood engraving kept its ground for a considerable period, especially in Germany, but copper in the end supplanted it, and owing to the beauty and clearness of the maps produced.

Other types of old maps include portolan charts which were mostly made by the Portuguese, Spanish and French and used as practical navigation charts.

A capacity to understand the nature of maps is possessed even by peoples whom we are in the habit of describing as "savages." Wandering tribes naturally enjoy a great advantage in this respect over sedentary ones. Our arctic voyagers—Sir E. W. Parry, Sir J. Ross, Sir F. L. MacClintock and others—have profited from rough maps drawn for them by Eskimos.

History Archive - Map Room
History Archive - Globe

Specimens of such maps are given in C. F. Hall's Life with the Esquimaux (London, 1864). Henry Youle Hind, in his work on the Labrador Peninsula (London, 1863) praises the map which the Montagnais and Nasquapee Indians drew upon bark. Similar essays at map-making are reported in connexion with Australians, Maoris and Polynesians. Tupaya, a Tahitian, who accompanied Captain Cook in the "Endeavour" to Europe, supplied his patron with maps; Raraka drew a map in chalk of the Paumotu archipelago on the deck of Captain Wilkes's vessel; the Marshall islanders, according to Captain Winkler (Marine Rundschau, Oct. 1893) possess maps upon which the bearings of the islands are indicated by small strokes.

History Archive - Piri Reis Map

Far superior were the maps found among the semi-civilized Mexicans when the Spaniards first discovered and invaded their country. Among them were cadastral plans of villages, maps of the provinces of the empire of the Aztecs, of towns and of the coast. Montezuma presented Cortes with a map, painted on Nequen cloth, of the Gulf coast. Another map did the Conquistador good service on his campaign against Honduras (Lorenzana, Historia de nueva España, Mexico, 1770; W. H. Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico, New York, 1843).

Peru, the empire of the Incas, had not only ordinary maps, but also maps in relief, for Pedro Sarmiento da Gamboa (History of the Incas, translated by A. R. Markham, 1907) tells us that the 9th Inca (who died in 1191) ordered such reliefs to be produced of certain localities in a district which he had recently conquered and intended to colonize. These were the first relief maps on record. It is possible that these primitive efforts of American Indians might have been further developed, but the Spanish conquest put a stop to all progress, and for a consecutive history of the map and map-making we must turn to the Old World, and trace this history from Egypt and Babylon, through Greece, to our own age.

Map Name
Dept. De La Vendee
Candia La Cita De Corphv
Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego (1690 Spanish Insert)
The Countye Palatine of Chester
A chart of the western ocean
Java, Sumatra
Bancosey, Siam, Cambodia, Siompa
Map of the World Showing the Principal Surface Currents of the Ocean
States of the Late Germanic Confederation
Brixia Tyrolis et Lavingen
Karte over Spetsbergen
A Part of the River Niger & Chadda, Surveyed in 1832-3
Hibernia [III]
Globus des Johannes Schöner A.D Jahare 1515
The World in Hemispheres
Dept. De L'Indre
Saxonia inferior
St. Omer
Venezuela, New Granada, Equador, and the Guayanas
Rostochivm Vrbs Vandalica Anseatic et Megapolitana
Manchester and It's Environs
Western Europe and northwestern Africa
Hardales Cartama 1564
Carte Itineraire No. 3
Brvnn Vulgo Brinn Marchionatus Morauiae Ciuitas insignis
Visbia Gothorvm
Africa and the Atlantic Ocean
Borneo, Paragoa, Isle of Mindoro
Bolzvardia Stavria Harlinga et Hindelopia
Dept. De La Drome
Dept. Du Cantal
The World on Mercator's Projection
Carte pour servir a l'Iteneraire Pittoresque de Fleuve de Hudson
Neuve Espagne [I]
Circular World Map of the Portuguese Hemisphere
Sevilla, Cadiz, Malaga
Cliviam Dvisbvrgvm Embrica and Gennapivm
Provincia de Coquimbo
Palativm Regivm In Angliae Regno Noncivtz Hoc Est Nvsqvam Simile Dictvm 1582
Harbour of St. Catherine - 1804
Molguilla Beach Showing the Wreck of the H.M.S. Challenger
French Ports and Harbours and Plan of Paris
Dept. De Siene et Oise
Dept. Du Finistere
West India Islands
Misena Hermvndvrorvm Vrbs
Guzarat, India [I]
Premiere Projection
Dept. De La Cote D'Or
Sevilla 1593
The Sources of Behaim's Globe
Sneecha Vulgo Sneeck Sloten Doccvm et Ylstae
Leafs 7 & 8
S. Polid Vulgo Sanpolten
Map of Railroad Routs to the City of Ottawa
Northern Africa
Lotharingia [II]
Lvcenbvrgvm Inset Illtrissimi Perri Erenst Masfeldie
Turkey in Europe
Vienna Buda Vulgo Ofen
Wight Island
Chart of the World Shewing the Track of the Neva
Mer de l'Inde orientale [II]
Siompa, Borneo
Sketch Map of the Dominion of Canada and Newfoundland
Dept. De La Correze
Vegel And Velis Mallaga
Map of Chicago
Southwestern Atlantic Ocean with Brazil
The Dominions of the Nizam of Haidarabad including Berar
The Kingdome of England
Sketch Map of the Country North of India
Civitas Francofordiana Ad Moe
Typus Vindelicae
Karte des Hochgebirge von Grindelwald
History Archive - Globes


A cartouche in cartography is a decorative emblem on a globe or map. Map cartouches may contain the title, the printer's address, date of publication, the scale of the map and legends, and sometimes a dedication. The design of cartouches varies according to cartographer and period style.

History Archive - New Asia Cartouche

On 15th-century maps they are modelled after Italian precedent (simple strapwork), by the 16th century architectural and figurative elements (like coats of arms) are added. The cartographic cartouche had its heyday in the Baroque period. Toward the end of the 18th century ornamental effects in cartography became less popular, their style developed to simple oval or rectangular fields with inscriptions.

History Archive - Quebec Cartouche
History Archive - Virginia Cartouche
History Archive - Constantinople Cartouche
History Archive - New Amsterdam Cartouche
History Archive - Dutch Cartouche (Left)
History Archive - Dutch Cartouche (Right)
History Archive - Switzerland Cartouche
History Archive - Table Mountain Cartouche History Archive - Swanenburgh Cartouche
History Archive - Ascension and St. Helena Cartouche History Archive - Asia Cartouche
History Archive - New Brazil Cartouche
History Archive - Mesoamerica Cartouche


1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 17. pg. 633

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