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
Danish Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean
Map of Bermuda
Plan of Banner Cove, Picton Island, Tierra del Fuego
Carte Itineraire No. 10
Dept. De La Vendee
Southern Ports and Harbours in the United States
Map of the Route of H.R.H., the Prince of Wales through British North America
Dept. De Bes. Du Rhone
Russia in Asia
Dept. De La Haute Loire
Nissa Silesior et Ligincivm
Scotia [I]
Harbour of St. Catherine - 1804
Dept. De La Hte. Garonn
Terre australe [I]
Route from Bangkok to Kiang-Tsen
Groeninga Broversavia Goricvm
England and Wales
Polynesia, or Islands in the Pacific Ocean
France and It's Principal Foreign Possessions
British North America Sheet II - West
Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [May-Oct]
A Map of New England and New York
British Possessions on the North East Coast of South America
Map Shewing Lines of Communication via New Transmit Route Through Central America
Daniae Regni Typus
Glaciers of the Canton of Berne
Kaiser Franz-Josephs Fjord
Mer de l'Inde orientale [II]
Part of South Australia
Palativm Regivm In Angliae Regno Noncivtz Hoc Est Nvsqvam Simile Dictvm 1582
Bvda Citerioris Hvngariae
Evrop [Europe]
Genva And Florentia
Asia Minor
Dept. De La Creuse
Lvgdvnvm, Lyon
Anglia [IV]
Ports and Harbours on the South East Coast of England
Egypt, and Arabia Petraea
Rotomagvs Vulgo Roan Nemavsvs Nismes Civitatis Bvrdegalensis In Aqvitanea
Caucausus and Crimea
Carte Itineraire No. 9
Anglia [V]
Anglia [III]
Sevilla, Cadiz, Malaga
Hibernia [II]
North America, East Coast
Zambezia and Surrounding Regions
Turcici Imperii Descriptio
Dept. De L'Ardeche
Guinea and South Western Africa
Circular World Map of the Portuguese Hemisphere
Lombardia [I]
Dept. De La Hte. Vienne
Sketch Map Showing the Mountain and River Systems of Sikkim
United States
Map of Iceland
Siompa, Borneo
Southeastern South America, Straits of Magellan
Venezuela, New Granada, Equador, and the Guayanas
Candia La Cita De Corphv
Leodivm, Liege
County Map of Ohio and Indiana
Daniæ regni [III]
B.C. 1491. The Exodus Of The Israelites.
Cliviam Dvisbvrgvm Embrica and Gennapivm
Die Stat Swybvschin In Nider Schlesien
Hypra Flandriarvm Civitas Mvnitissima
Washington Islands - 1804
Irish Ports and Harbours
Flensbvrgvm et Itzohoa
Mer de l'Inde orientale [I]
Indian Archipelago
Freti Danici or Svndt Accvratiss Delineatio
Orixa [II]
Antiqvae Vrbis Romae Imago Accvratiss Bottom
Caprarola Arx et Horti Farenesiani
Barbariae et Biledvlgerid Nova Descriptio
Floride, Terre-Neuve et Labrador
View of the Polar Regions
Dept. De L'Aveyron
Neuve Espagne [III]
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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