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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
Map of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres, with the Surrounding States
Alsatia superior
Manchester and It's Environs
Zamoscivm Noua Poloniae Ciuitas
The Countye Palatine of Chester
Vrbis Romae 1570
France and It's Principal Foreign Possessions
Overland Route to India
A Chart of the Southern Extremity of Africa
Gades Ab Occidvis Insvlae Partibvs 1564 Harbor Of Cadiz Inset
Map of the Overland Route to Australia
A chart of the Maes and Wielingen -- The coast of Holland between the Maes and Texel
Leodivm, Liege
Dept. De La Vendee
Helsheborch Lvnden Elbogen et Landeskron
Tvnes 1535 Africa Olim Aphodisivm Penon De Veles
Partie des canibales
Map of the Land of Midian
General Map of Australia
Visbia Gothorvm
Bengall, Bay of Bengall
A chart of the western ocean
Dept. De Cher
Anglia [V]
Dept. De La Meurthe
Map of China
Tipvs Civitatis Lvblinesi In Regno Poloniae
Middle with Part of the Southern and Western States
Isla de la Mocha
Treveris Cobolentz Rotenbvrg
A Newe Mape of Poland
Indian Archipelago
Regni Bohemiae Descriptio
Dept. Du Pas De Calais
Dept. De La Hte. Garonn
Konigsbbergt et Riga
Cairus Quae Olim Babylon
[Map of the World: Tavola 1-60 Composite]
Calechvt Ormvs Canonor S. Georgii Oppidum Mina
Map Accompanying Argentina Past and Present, Second Edition
Dept. De L'Aisne
Panoramic View of the Columbian Exchange
Lotharingia [II]
Tibvrtvm Vulgo Tivoli
Pisavrum or Pezaro
Plans of Ports in the West Indies
Middelbvrgvm Selandiae Opp
Afrique occidentale [I]
Map of the Regencies of Tripoly and Tunis
Aden Mombaza Qviloa Cefala
Northeastern South America
[I] Map of Denmark [II] Map of Holland and Belgium [III] Russia in Europe, Sweden and Norway
Map of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas
Mediterranee orientale et Moyen-Orient
Plan of the Compounds in the Cantonment of Ootacamund [1834]
Plan of New Orleans
Northern India including the Presidency of Calcutta
British North America Sheet I - East
Chartres et Chateavdvnvm Vulgo Dunoys
Nvrnberg Vlm Saltzbvrg Lindaw
County Map of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Cape Breton and Prince Edwards Island
Brvgae Flandricarvm Vrbivm Ornamenta
Hibernia [I]
Map of the Central Indian Highlands
Stafford Countie and Towne
Plans of Ports in Italy and Malta
Map of the Countries on the East Coast of the Mediterranean Sea
Hypra Flandriarvm Civitas Mvnitissima
Northern Africa
Lombardia [II]
Tingis Lvsitanis Tangiara Tzaffin Septa Arzilla et Sala
Carte physique de l'ocean
County Map of Florida
Sketch Map of Lower Egypt
Chart of the Gulf of Pee-Chee-Lee
Cambray 1596
United States
Deuxieme Projection
Dept. De Vaucluse
Terre de Floride - Partie de la mer oceanne
Africae Tabula Nova
Geology of the Genesee River
Leevwaerden et Franicker
Amerique Meridionale
British Possessions on the North East Coast of South America
Anglia [I]
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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