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
New Granada and Venezuela
A Chart of the Pelew Islands and Adjacent Seas
British North America Sheet II - West
Channel Islands Scilly Islands and Isle of Man
Eisleben et Tvbingen
The World on Mercator's Projection
Dept. De Basse-Alpes
Orvieto et Lavretvm
Mexico et Cvsco
Borneo, Celebes
Aqvisgranvm Vulgo Aich 1576
Sumatra, Java
Topographia Insulae Huenae In Celebri Prothmo Regni Daniae 1586
A chart of the western ocean
Kelly's Map of the Environs of Dublin Including the County of Wicklow
Werden et Essend
B.C. 529. Exhibiting The Empire Of Cyrus.
Lotharingia [II]
Chart of the Caroline Islands [I]
Rostochivm Vrbs Vandalica Anseatic et Megapolitana
County Map of California
New Zealand
Antiqvae Vrbis Romae Imago Accvratiss Bottom
Map of the Uinkaret Plateau [South Half]
Vienna Buda Vulgo Ofen
Dept. De La Hte. Marne
Guzarat, India [II]
Mer de l'Inde orientale [I]
Plan of the Principal Field of Action between the Rivers Cottica and Marawina; with a Sketch of the manner of Encamping in the Woods of Surinam
[Map of the World: Tavola 1-60 Composite]
Isle de la Reunion
Lakii Lacus Vulgo Terretorii Romani Descrip Fori Iulii
Evrop [Europe]
Map to Illustrate the Route of Prince Maximilian of Wied
Map of Iceland
A Map of Dahomey with Part of Ashanti
Dept. De Hautes Alpes
Turkey in Europe
Lvbeca Vrbs Imperialis Libera Hamburga 1572
Map of Albania
Islands [II]
Route from Bangkok to Kiang-Tsen
Daniæ regni [I]
Prospectivs Amoe Nissimvs Vallis Oeniponticae Vnacvm Antro
Sumatra, Banca [II]
Provincia de Chloe
Calatia Vulgo Caiazo 1597
Lippe et Dortmvnd
Mosambique, Soffala
Map of the World Showing the Principal Surface Currents of the Ocean
Kingdom of Italy
Carte de la partie de l'ocean
Dutch Possessions in South America and the West Indies
A chart of Gvinea describeing the sea coast from Cape de Verde to Cape Bona Esperanca
Grande et Petite Jave [I]
Patavivm Nobilissima
West Canada
The Kingdome of Irland
Veronæ principatus, Vicentiæ, et Patavii
Yorke Shrowesbvry Lancaster et Richmont
Turkish Empire
Mer de l'Inde orientale [II]
Ubersichtskarte des nordlichen Theiles von Ostgronland
Cliviam Dvisbvrgvm Embrica and Gennapivm
Description of a View of the Continent of Boothia
Map of the Route of the British Embassy (II)
Map of the City of Yedo and Vicinity
Bvrgos et Sanct Sebastianvm
A.D. 1828. End Of The General Peace.
Dept. De L'Aveyron
Terre australe [VII]
Ratisbona 1594
Herderwyct Or Herderwct
Hagae Comitis
Dept. De La Sarthe
A Chart Shewing the Moves of the Mandan and the Place of Their Extinction
Cinquieme Projection
Sunda Straghts, Java
Matiscona 1580 Cabillinvm Indigenis Chalon
B.C. 2348. The Deluge.
Scotia [II]
Agria Vulgo Erla
England and Wales
Celebes, Ende, Tiimor
Septentrionalium Regionum Descrip
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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