A chart, shewing the track of the Centurion round the World

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This map reflects the track of a ship, and actually an entire squadron, but the ship was called the Centurion and it was commanded by a Commodore George Anson. This voyage probably goes down as one of the most horrific in the history of exploration and voyaging. Commodore Anson started out with a squadron of seven ships and 1,800 sailors. Three years later when they finally returned to England, fully 90% of those 1,800 had died and there were only approximately 180 crew members left. When the voyage was undertaken, the British and the Spanish were in the midst of a war, and their ships preyed on one another. Part of Anson’s job was to disrupt Spanish shipping and, perhaps, capture some of the galleons – the ships that carried the great gold and silver hoards that Spain was bringing back to its country. And Anson had that as one of his goals.

But the track on this map shows is the actual pathway of the Centurion and it’s marvelous for several reasons, one of which is the portion of the track that goes up on the western side of South America, and, if you look closely, you’ll see that that track jiggles a little bit about halfway up the coast, just about where the Juan Fernandez Island is located, and Anson got close to that island- wanted to get it, but had no way of knowing, in those days, exactly how far east or west he was. Thinking he was in the wrong direction, he headed east and all of a sudden found himself about to bump into the coast of Chile. Realizing his mistake, he turned around and finally found the Juan Fernandez Al- Island, and of course later on, much later on after many adventures he did cross the Pacific and finally returned to England, having captured one of the big prizes, in fact the biggest prize that a British ship had ever found and was acclaimed a hero on his return back to Great Britain.



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Papua men in New Guinea in their canoes hunting wild hogs; [and] : War canoes of Otaheite equipp’d for engagement as represented by Capt.n Cooke

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This print reflects an engraving of a scene of probably a scene from the early 1800s, of a native from Papua New Guinea in a dugout canoe, one looks like, with side riggers to give it stability and it appears that he’s using a spear to spear wild hogs that apparently are swimming in that part of the world. This is one of a pair of prints that my wife and I purchased when we were in Auckland in New Zealand and found an old bookstore that had these for sale. We were just intrigued with the way in which it revealed a lifestyle that is obviously quite foreign to most of us living here in the United States in this century, but, exciting and revealing of the character and the rigor with which life was led in that- in that day is reflected on the print.




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Ins kleine gebrachte karte von den Süd-Lændern : zur Historie der Reisen

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This map is by a French cartographer, named Jacques Bellin. Bellin was a great recorder of the oceans and the landmasses and the islands around the world. His pathbreaking work is still highly regarded. Bellin was a Frenchman, and one of the subjects, the subject that he took on here, was the continent, or huge island, of Australia. Well, this was in an early day in the middle of the 18th Century. And even as of that date it was not clear whether Australia was separate and apart from the mainland or whether it was connected. In this particular case, the assumption was that it was connected. And one of the reasons that I love this map is that, like so many others in the collection, it shows a best effort at getting the facts straight, but falling short for lack of better information.



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Tabula geographica-hydrographia motus oceani

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This map is a curious and, to some degree, insightful rendering of how the Earth works. It was prepared by Athanasius Kircher, who made it his business to try to understand ocean currents, try to understand hydrological activity, try to understand volcanic activity. And so, his maps are full of representations and some speculation about how the waters of the world connect to each other, how the volcanoes are arrayed, and so on. Very interested in those features and some of his theories, which had long underground passageways connecting one body of water with another, were interesting in their speculative character – not many of them proved to be true, but he was at least asking the questions that later scientists, hydrologists, and oceanographers were to explore.



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Polus Antarcticus

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This is a map by Johannes Janssonius of the Antarctic – “Polus Antarcticus.” This map was published in the first half of the 17th Century. And, again, it reflects how little was actually known about that southernmost part of the planet. Mapmakers had been guessing for years about what might be down there; and there were only glancing blows struck by the earliest explorers. So, what you see on the map are a few hazy lines. One doesn’t know how they connect up. One doesn’t even know if they’re real, but there was a stab at it and that’s what this wonderful map shows. I particularly like the bird in the lower right-hand corner – an artist’s guess, anyway, at what might actually be located there.



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Map of Europe as queen

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This map is a creative rendering of the continent of Europe. As you’ll see, it’s been made to look like or conform to the figure of a queen. It took some work to make all that work out. The Queen’s head is more or less where Spain is, her left shoulder is more or less where France is, her right arm extends down into the water, representing the Italian peninsula. So, Sebastian Munster, the mapmaker, had some fun with this, and as was the case with some other mapmakers engaged in a little bit of fantasy cartography. This is a good example; she’s fun to look at.



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Tabula Asiae IIII

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This map is a map by Münster from the first half of the 16th century. It reflects basically the Middle East – that part of the world which is so turbulent and so fraught with conflict today. In the upper left-hand corner, one sees Cyprus and the eastern part of the Mediterranean. And then moving ashore, you can see where Palestine is, Samaria, Galilee, on up through what we think of today as Israel and the Holy Land, continuing on over to Syria. Moving further to the right we enter the Arabian Peninsula, and there are some of the tents that were characteristic of the day. On over to the right-hand most side, are the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and Mesopotamia, referred to here as “Babylonia,” which, of course, was roughly where the famous mythical city of Babylon was located.

This woodcut was in a style that follows what is known as the Ptolemaic way of portraying maps. Claudius Ptolemy was a geographer in the Second Century of the Common Era operating out of Alexandria in Egypt. And, in his day, not much was known about the whole world, but he made it his business to know a great deal about the then-known world and included what were then very rough longitude and latitude markings. In any event, maps made from his geographic pinpoints – his longitudes and latitudes – were the best maps of the then-period of time and, for a thousand years more, continue to be the best maps – or at least the model of maps. So what we have here is a map that was made in the 16th Century, but follows the style and the locations of many of the points of the area that were devised by a 2nd Century Greek.



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