Terra Firma et Novum Regnum Granatense et Popayan

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This, uh, map, “Terra Firma et Novum Regnum,” is a beautiful map of a portion of Central America and the northwest coast of South America. Uh, at the very top is a representation of the “Mar del Norte,” the Sea of the North, with a compass rose there; and below the Central American depiction is another compass rose and the words “Mar del Zur.” Many people think about, uh, the Americas as separating the oceans, uh, east and west, but in this particular context, uh, the water is to the north, hence “Mar del Norte,” and also to the south, therefore “Mar del Zur.” Whereas portions of Colombia are shown as well as various portions of Peru, the map is wonderful in its depiction of the very mountainous coast, uh, that characterizes that part of South America, and, indeed, goes right down the entire western coast of South America. The, uh, the mountains are, uh, not there to depict specific peaks, but, uh, you get a wonderful sense of just how many mountains there are, and it graphically illustrates, uh, the fact of- of- of the great mount- mountainous character of the, uh, of the area. Another beautiful map by- by Blaeu.



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Nova Virginiae tabvla

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This map is “Nova Virginiae Tabula” and it’s a map by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, who lived from 1571 to 1638. It’s an extraordinary map, and Clive Burton, one of the great, uh, compilers of antique maps in the United States has described it as one of the most important maps ever published about America or a part of America. What it shows is, uh, a good portion of the state of Virginia, particularly that portion surrounding, uh, the Chesapeake Bay, which is clearly indicated. It’s, uh- It’s nicely colored. The map is a little bit toned but the color still is striking.

One of the things that your eye is immediately drawn to is the, uh, print material in the upper-left left-hand corner which features the Indian Chief Powhatan, uh, sitting in a longhouse along with the leaders of his tribe with a smoking fire before him. Now Powhatan, as most people have heard, is associated with a daughter by the name of Pocahontas, and the legend has it that Pocahontas, Powhatan’s daughter, met and had an amorous relationship with one of the earlier explorers, Captain John Smith – no relation to me, by the way! In any event, uh, Powhatan took a shine to Captain Smith, uh, not necessarily on behalf of his daughter but perhaps because his tribe was being pressed on all sides by other Indian rivals and, uh, the speculation is that he may have seen the English, uh, Captain John Smith, as potential allies in- in a conflict.

The map itself is actually based on a map that John Smith, the original, uh, in 1612 drew of this same area, the Chesapeake Bay area. When you look at the map, you’ll realize that north is essentially to the right, west is where we would normally think “north” to be, and east is at the bottom of the, uh- of the frame. Captain John Smith’s map was largely laid out the same way. It was then emulated by still another mapmaker, Jodocus Hondius, in 1618, and, ultimately, Willem Blaeu created this masterpiece, uh, one of the great maps of America’s Mid-Atlantic in the 1600s.



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A comparative view of the principal waterfalls, islands, lakes, rivers and mountains in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres

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I’m going to discuss two maps together. These maps are a curious, uh, graphic, which doesn’t represent any clear geography, but does represent an amalgam of some of the principal features to be found around the world, whether those features were lakes, rivers, mountains, or the like. And what is kind of nice about them is that they bring all the largest mountains together, for example, and you can see visually, uh, which are the tallest and which are the almost-tallest, and so on. So it’s a- it’s a nice comparative graphic, one that gives you some appreciation of how the various features of the world, uh, relate to one another.



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La corveta Atrevida entre bancas del nieve

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This print is of a corvette[1], a Spanish ship, sailing in turbulent seas. It is, I think, a remarkable rendering of, uh, a vessel contending not only with waves but also, uh, a snowy coast, perhaps even, uh, something of iceberg proportions, but nevertheless, uh, it is close to, uh, land, there is snow on- on- on the land, and it is through that very difficult passage that this- this ship, uh, the Atrevida[2], is, uh, is navigating. The era for this would be in the late 18th century, uh, and it gives a good idea, I think, of what sailors of the day had to contend with, and it’s absolutely marvelous, I think, to look at the rigging of the, uh, of the sails, and the rope-walks that sailors were required to clamber up. You’ll see one on his way up very perilously heading up to the upper portions of the, uh, the mast, uh, and, uh, no one’s quite made it up to the very top, the top mast, but sailors had to do that. This- this particular print gives a wonderful impression of what seafaring would have been like under adverse conditions in the day.

[1] “During the Age of Sail, corvettes were one of many types of warships smaller than a frigate and with a single deck of guns. They were very closely related to sloops-of-war. The role of the corvette consisted mostly of coastal patrol, fighting minor wars, supporting large fleets, or participating in show-the-flag missions.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvette Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

[2] “The Descubierta and Atrevida were twin corvettes of the Spanish Navy, custom-designed as identical special exploration and scientific research vessels. […] They were launched together on 8 April 1789.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descubierta_and_Atrevida Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.



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This map is a map of America by, uh, Ruscelli. He is a 16th Century mapmaker. This is heavily annotated, and so it is fun to look closely at both what is set forth as North America and also what is South America, and to compare the names of that day with those of the, uh, present. So, one can find, by looking closely, Florida. The islands of Cuba and Hispaniola are there, as are literally dozens and dozens of other locations. It’s all a little congested, but it’s beautifully engraved with all the flourishes that Ruscelli was known for, and, uh, again, in pretty good condition for a map that’s more than four-and-a-half centuries old.



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Passage par terre a la Californie decouverte par le R.P. Eusebe- François Kino, Jesuite depuis 1698 jusqu’a 1701 ou l’on voit encore les Nouvelles Missions des PP. de la Compag.e de Jesus

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This map, uh, records a historic event that took place a few years before it was published. The background is that once upon a time, the very earliest mapmakers described California as part of the North American continent, part of the mainland. And then in 1625, a mapmaker by the name of Briggs[1] decided that it was really an island[2], and he was so famous that succeeding mapmakers followed his example and described California on their maps also as an island. It wasn’t until Father Kino[3] decided to try out, uh, how you got to this so-called “island” and he began walking west, uh, and he continued walking west, and he continued walking west, until he got to the Pacific Ocean without having gotten his feet wet in the meantime. All of a sudden, people realized that the island notion was a mistake the whole time and California was, in fact, part of the North American mainland. Of course some people think that there may come a day with earthquake activity that California might someday, again, be seen as an island. We will see!

[1] “Henry Briggs (bap. 1561-1631) was an English mathematician. He is best known for his pioneering work on logarithms and his 1625 map depicting California as an island, the first English map to do so.” https://www.raremaps.com/mapmaker/1190/Henry_Briggs Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.
[2] “In 1622 [Briggs] published a small tract on the Northwest Passage to the South Seas, through the Continent of Virginia and Hudson Bay. The tract is notorious today as the origin of the cartographic myth of the Island of California. In it Briggs stated he had seen a map that had been brought from Holland that showed the Island of California.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Briggs_(mathematician) Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.
[3] “Eusebio Francisco Kino (10 August 1645 – 15 March 1711), often referred to as Father Kino, was a Tyrolean Jesuit, missionary, geographer, explorer, cartographer and astronomer born in the Territory of the Bishopric of Trent, then part of the Holy Roman Empire.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebio_Kino Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.



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Carte réduite du détroit de Magellan

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This map is a depiction of the famous Strait of Magellan. This is the Strait that roughly two-hundred years or so before the map was made, Ferdinand Magellan made his famous circumnavigation of the Earth – or I should say, his expedition did, because he didn’t make it. Nevertheless, he was the one who pioneered the- the Strait. And, as you can see, there are innumerable nooks and crannies as you go through it and islands in the midst of it – places where it would be easy to get lost or hide or make a wrong turn. And, in fact, Magellan found to his chagrin that that set of hiding places resulted in the captain of one of the ships of his expedition, deciding that the voyage was not worth pursuing, finding a way to hide while Magellan and the other ships proceeded forward, and then that recalcitrant[1] captain and, uh, ship worked their way back out to the front and headed back to Spain.

The- The map is also fun for its reference to “Terre De Feu,” better known as the “Tierra Del Fuego,” where, at least, there were outcrops of- of fire, whether it was native-created or maybe, uh, secretions of flammable substance. The long-and-short of it is that the sailors thought- the early sailors thought that they saw fire on the island, and that became the way in which it was named: the “Land of Fire” – Tierra Del Fuego.

[1] Recalcitrant can be defined as, “obstinately defiant of authority or restraint” or “difficult to manage or operate.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recalcitrant Accessed 18 Mar. 2021.



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Tierra Nueva

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This map is entitled “Tierra Nueva” which is a rendering by, uh, Ruscelli of the east coast of the, uh, North American continent. Again, it’s very hard to match what you see here with what might be found on a current modern-day map. In the lower left-hand corner, Florida appears – not clear what Florida’s real shape is, but it’s at least indicated. Uh, and then there is a potpourri[1] of different islands, or would-be islands, up in the vicinity of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and, uh, and Maine. There’s a lot of speculation that there were water passages in and around and behind, uh, what one sees on the coast. Much of that was speculative. One fun thing about this map is that it shows the prototypic version of the island of Manhattan. Well, it’s not shown as an island. It is shown as a peninsula with the label “Angouleme,”[2] but that, as reflected on later maps, is what the, uh, mapmakers of the day thought of what, at the time, was considered an island- I mean, a part of the mainland, but obviously is, uh, is an island, the most built-upon island, perhaps, in the world.

[1] Potpourri can be defined as “a miscellaneous collection” or “medley.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potpourri Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

[2] “On January 17, 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano, (1485-1528) in command of La Dauphine, became the first European to enter New York Harbor, during a voyage sponsored by King Francis I of France. […] Francis I (1494-1547, King of France 1515-1547) was the son of Charles of Orleans. Prior to Francis’ ascension to the throne, he had been known as Francis of Angouleme. In the King’s honor, Verrazano named the harbor ‘Angouleme’ and reported to Francis: I ‘Called [the harbor] Angouleme from the principality which thou attainedst in lesser fortune…’” http://www.newyorkmapsociety.org/FSAngouleme.html Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.



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Isola Cuba nova

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This map is a map of the island of Cuba. It was done by a mapmaker by the name of Ruscelli in the middle of the 16th century – roughly 1565 – and it includes, in addition to Cuba, if you look down below, you will see of the island of Jamaica rendered as well and then in the lower right-hand corner, the very westernmost tip of the island of Hispaniola. This island or this – well it is an island, Cuba is an island, is again a 16th-century mapmaker’s best effort and, uh, one can find if you look closely, at least where the bay is, where Havana is located on the Northern side of the, of the island. Ruscelli was famous for maps of this era and this is an excellent specimen in very good shape for a map that was made more than 400 years ago.



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Descrittione dell’isola et terra di santa croce, overo : mondo nuovo

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This map is a map by Thomaso Porcacchi of the New World – “Mondo Nuovo.” As you can see, it is part of a larger page, uh, a page that would have been in a book of maps, and he was famous for a collection of what he basically called his collection “Islands of the World.” Well, he included continents in that category as well. So, here we have North America, and North America is in a distorted shape that one would have some trouble recognizing today, but, uh, there it is.

There’s a little blob in the middle representing Florida. One can go up the coast all the way to, uh, Labrador. Uh, on the western side, we see California- Baja California, and, uh, it is attached to the North American continent. As is the case with several later maps, California gets disconnected from the North American continent, but the early-most mapmakers got it right, and there it is.



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