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.

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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
North German Confederation and Prussia
Tartariae Sive Magni Chami Regni
Tonquin, Qunacy, Aynam
Plano de la Bahia de Valparaiso
South Atlantic
A chart of the Levant or eastermost part of the Mediterranean sea
Carte des Terres Australes
This New Map of Burma and the Regions Adjacent is Inscribed to Sir Roderick I. Murchison
Chart of the Mediterranean Sea
Plan of Philadelphia
The river of Humber -- The river of Tyne
Geologic Map Showing the Kanab, Paria and Marble Canon Platforms
Mosambuique, S. Lorinso [II]
Karten von Helgoland im Mittelalter
Map of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres, with the Surrounding States
Map of South America Showing It's Political Divisions
County Map of England and Wales
Dept. De Maine et Loire
Tricaricvm Basilicatae Civitas
Alsatia inferior
A General Chart Shewing the Track and Discoveries of H.M. Ships Isabella and Fury
A Map of Fiji and New Caledonia
Modern Palestine
Anfa Qvibsdam Anafea Azaamvrvm Div Goa
Dept. De La Charente
Crempa et Reinholdsbvrga
Franciae Orientalis Monasteriensis
World in Hemispheres
A chart of the Eemes Elve -- A chart of the coast of Jutland
Sclesvicvm 1584
Mexico, California and Texas
Plano Orografico de la Zona Recorrida por el Ferro-Carril Mexicano de Veracruz a Mexico
Ivtetia Vulgari Nomina Paris
Scotia [III]
Ceiloan [II]
Hibernia [III]
Map of China
Outline Map of Central America
A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto. by Henry Popple.
A Map of the Arkansas River by H.S. Tanner
Cracovia Minoris Poloniae Metropolis
Xantung, Nanquin
Aqvapendente et Tarvisi
A Map of New Jarsey
Helsheborch Lvnden Elbogen et Landeskron
Plans of Ports, Islands, and Cities on the Coast of Africa and India
Map of Vermont and New Hampshire
Bisnagar [II]
Ancient Palestine
China and Burmah
Persia, Guzarat
South America
Australia and New Zealand
The Lakes of the Cumberland, Westmoreland, etc
Hibernia [IV]
Helvetiae Descriptio Aegidio
Surrat City, Cambaya, Guzarat
Spain and Portugal
Brvnopolis Vvlgo Brvnsvicvm Lvnebrgvm Brema Aldenbvrgvm Holsatiae
Caprarola Arx et Horti Farenesiani
A chart of the westermost part of the Mediterranean sea
Delphvm Or Delft
A.D. 476. The Dissolution Of the Western Empire.
Halberstadivm et Qvedelinbvrga
Dept. De La Hte. Saone
Valle De Mexico
Karte des Hochgebirge von Grindelwald
Tvnes 1535 Africa Olim Aphodisivm Penon De Veles
Grande et Petite Jave [II]
Map of the Route
Dept. De La Meurthe
An Accurate Map of the Kingdom of Norway
Sumatra, Sunda Straghts, Java
Chart of Beering's Straits
Countries in the Northern Tropical Regions of Africa
General View of the North Atlantic with Part of the Coasts of Europe and North America
Dept. Du Gers
Pictorial Map of the World
Regni Hispaniae
Calechvt Ormvs Canonor S. Georgii Oppidum Mina
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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