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
Reyno de la Nueva Expana a Principios del Siglo XIX
Globus des Johannes Schöner A.D Jahare 1520
Dept. De Saone et Loire
World on Mercator's Projection
Palestinae Sive Totius Terrae
Dept. De La Gironde
A Part of the River Niger & Chadda, Surveyed in 1832-3
The Countie Westmorland
Sneecha Vulgo Sneeck Sloten Doccvm et Ylstae
British Empire Throughout the World Exhibited in One View
Monomotapa [II]
Oxonivm Nobile Anglie Oppidum Vindesorivm
Crempa et Reinholdsbvrga
United States
Avgvsti Apvd Venetos Templi et Palatii Senatorii Apvd Venetos Conflagratio
Isla de la Mocha
Northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Northern Europe
Map of the Western Half of the Hellespontine Phrygia
British Guayana
Tvnetis Vrbis 1574
North German Confederation and Prussia
Terre du Perou [I]
Algeria Colonie Francaise
The World on Mercator's Projection
Dresden And Leibzigk
New Zealand
Matiscona 1580 Cabillinvm Indigenis Chalon
Outline Map of the Indian Localities in 1833
Neuve Espagne [III]
Map to Illustrate Mr. Kane's Travels
Afrique occidentale [I]
Chart of the Mouth of the Para, Curupa, and Amazon Rivers
The river of Humber -- The river of Tyne
Valle De Mexico
The Counti of Warwick
Map Shewing Lines of Communication via New Transmit Route Through Central America
Czaslavivm Vulgo Czasla Bohemiae Civitas et Commoda Vulgo Comethav
Dept. De Loir et Cher
Carte de la partie de l'ocean
Carte de l'Oasis de Syouah
A draught of the sands, channels buoyes beacons and sea marks upon the coast of England -- [Inset] The river of Thames from London Bridge to Tilburyhope
Map of Western Massachusetts and Connecticut
Southern Italy
Dept. De La Cote D'Or
Aqvapendente et Tarvisi
Friuli et Istria
Hagae Comitis
Anfa Qvibsdam Anafea Azaamvrvm Div Goa
Description De La Ville De Bar Faicte L An 1617
Stockholm Stocholm Donabat Huic Operi Hieronymus Scholeus
Neuve Espagne [II]
County Map of Ohio and Indiana
Russia in Europe
A chart of the Caribe islands
Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part III. South-Western Sheet]
Northern Italy
Circumpolar Map Exhibiting the Inter-Oceanic Circulation
Map of the Route of the British Embassy (I)
Brvnopolis Vvlgo Brvnsvicvm Lvnebrgvm Brema Aldenbvrgvm Holsatiae
Europe meridionale et orientale
Map of the South Eastern Alps Showing the Routes Followed by the Authors
Colonies Francaises (en Amerique) [II]
North Atlantic Ocean
A Newe Mape of the Romane Empire
Map of the United States and Territories
Plan of Northumberland South, Prince Albert Island
Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [May-Oct]
Northwest Africa
Lacvs Agnianvs
Guinea and South Western Africa
Carta Agricola
Sweden and Norway
Daniae Regni Typus
Islands in the Atlantic
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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