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
China and Burmah
Mer de l'Inde orientale [I]
B.C. 146. At The End Of The Third Punic War.
Colonia Agrippina
Central Europe with the Railways
Turcici Imperii Descriptio
Panoramic View of the Columbian Exchange
Antiqvae Vrbis Romae Imago Accvratiss Bottom
Fonthill Domain
Carte Géographique de l'Italie
Cestria Vvglo Chester Anglia Civitas
Map of Raids and Battles by the Second Regiment of Cavalry
Plan of Baltimore
Polar Chart to Illustrate A. Petermann's Papers on the Arctic Regions
Polus Articus
Dept. Du Rhone
The World in Hemispheres
France and It's Principal Foreign Possessions
A Comparative View Of the Principal Waterfalls, Islands, Lakes, Rivers and Mountains, in the Eastern Hemisphere
Galliae Regni Potentiss
Description De La Ville De Bar Faicte L An 1617
Mer de l'Inde orientale et des Moluques
Zambezia and Surrounding Regions
Ocean indien et mer rouge
A General Chart Shewing the Track and Discoveries of H.M. Ships Isabella and Fury
Geologic Map of the Southern Part of the Kaibab Plateau. [Part I. North-Western Sheet]
Overland Route to India
Carta Orografica
Map of the World Illustrating B. Seeman's Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S Herald
Aqvisgranvm Vulgo Aich 1576
Dept. Du Puy De Dome
Chart of the Caroline Islands [I]
County Map of the State of Maine
Vrbis Romae 1570
Venezuela, New Granada, Equador, and the Guayanas
The Territories of the Maharaja of Jummoo and Kashmir
B.C. 2348. The Deluge.
A.D. 814. Exhibiting The Empire Of Charlemagne.
Cliviam Dvisbvrgvm Embrica and Gennapivm
Austrian Empire
Geologic Map Showing the Kanab, Paria and Marble Canon Platforms
La Java
Principal Dutch Colonies in the Indian Seas
Map of the Route of H.R.H., the Prince of Wales through British North America
A chart of the western part of the East Indies, with all the aejacent islands from Cape Bona Esperanca to Cape Comorin
Africa and the Atlantic Ocean
A Map of Peru
Dept. De La Hte. Garonn
A chart of the coasts of Barbarie, Gualata, Arguyn & Genehoa from C. Vincent to C Verd.
Southern Ports and Harbours in the United States
Plano de la Batalla de Maypu
Quatrieme Projection
Route from Bangkok to Kiang-Tsen
Molguilla Beach Showing the Wreck of the H.M.S. Challenger
Guinea and South Western Africa
Crempa et Reinholdsbvrga
Noua Bracarae Auguste Descriptio 1594
County Map of Florida
Montes Hannoniae Metropolis Arras
Dept. Des Deux Sevres
Kelly's Map of the Environs of Dublin Including the County of Wicklow
Geological Profiles of Routes Along the Expedition
Zaros Superioris Hungariae Civitatas and Propugnaculum
A chart of the Eemes Elve -- A chart of the coast of Jutland
A Plan of Captain Carver's Travels in the Interior Parts of North America
Ivtetia Vulgari Nomina Paris
Prussia and the German States
Vetvstiss Ad Mare Thyrrhenvcm Terracinae Oppidvm
Nordovicum Angliae Civitas
Lombardia [II]
Chart of the Discoveries in the Arctic Sea from Behring Strait to Baffins Bay 1819-1854
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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