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 Western North America
Veronæ principatus, Vicentiæ, et Patavii
Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [June-July]
North America
Moscavw Moscovia
New England States
Dept. De Cotes du Nord
North America
The Kingdome of Persia
Peru & Bolivia
Japan & Corea
Estrecho de Magallanes
Provincias de Talca y de Colcaqua
Monacvm Ingolstadivm Frisingensis Nordlinga Ratispona Stravbinga
The Turkisch Empire
Geologic Map of the Colorado Plateau and San Francisco Mountains
Map of South America Showing It's Political Divisions
Dept. De La Mayenne
Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus
Brvnopolis Vvlgo Brvnsvicvm Lvnebrgvm Brema Aldenbvrgvm Holsatiae
A New Map of North America from the Latest Discoveries - 1778
Map of the Hawaiian Islands
Eastern Hemisphere
Dept. De La Siene Inferieure
Borneo, Celebes
Palatinatus superior
Scotland (with) inset map of the Shetland Islands
Cairus Quae Olim Babylon
Galliae Regni Potentiss
Gelriae, Cliviae Finitimorumque Locorumverissima Descriptio
Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic Ocean
Map of the Country, Islands, &c in the Vicinity of Naples
Southern Indian Ocean with Insulindia on the Left, and Madagascar on the Right
An Accurate Map of the Kingdom of Norway
Russia in Asia
Dept. De L'Ain
County Map of the State of Maine
Cotidal Lines for the Arctic Regions
Circular World Map of the Portuguese Hemisphere
Isle Coronia, India
Ancient Palestine
Hall In Sachsen et Hildsheim
Hierosolyma Vrbs Sancta
Anglia [IV]
Plano de la Bahia de Valparaiso
Chilonivm Vulgo Kyell
Northern Italy
Nvrnberg Vlm Saltzbvrg Lindaw
The Counti and City of Lyn
Dept. Du Puy De Dome
Map of Canada East in Counties
A New and Exact Map of the Coasts, Countries, and Islands within the Limits of the South Sea Company
The Mediterranean Sea
Winmaria Or Weinmar
Mediterranean Sea
A chart of the Caribe islands
Traiectvm Ad Mosam
Karten von Helgoland im Mittelalter
Colonies Francaises (en Afrique)
Hibernia [IV]
Dept. De La Dordeogne
A chart of Gvinea describeing the sea coast from Cape de Verde to Cape Bona Esperanca
Schlavoniae, Croatiae, Carniae, Istriae, Bosniae, Finitimarumque Regionum Nova Descriptio
Strigonivm Gran 1595
The Kingdome of China
Montes Hannoniae Metropolis Arras
Sweden and Norway with Russian Finland
The Counti of Warwick
Lombardia [III]
B.C. 323. Exhibiting The Empire Of Alexander.
Gratianopolis Grenoble et Romans Delfinatus
The Settled Portions of South Australia
Cliviam Dvisbvrgvm Embrica and Gennapivm
Patavivm Nobilissima
Topographia Insulae Huenae In Celebri Prothmo Regni Daniae 1586
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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