America

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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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La Florida / Peruviae Auriferae Regionis Typus / Guastecan

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This map is actually a collection of three maps that formed a part of the famous atlas that Abraham Ortelius, a Flemish mapmaker, made in the 16th Century. Uh, it actually includes three sections: one a part of the, uh, connecting tissue between the two continents of North and South America; one showing Florida; and one showing the Peruvian coast. Ortelius was one of the most decent mapmakers and collectors of maps. When he published his atlas, unlike many others who simply stole, uh, the ideas or the maps from someone else and attributed them to themselves, Ortelius always gave credit to the actual mapmaker. Uh, I particularly like the Peruvian coast, and, if you look at that, you’ll see the mountain ranges, of course the mountainous western coast of South America is famous. And this map would have been very useful to the Spanish as they continued their exploration and conquest of the South America and Central American portions of the Western Hemisphere. It’s also illustrated with some wonderful ships at sea, and, uh, communities that probably did not have anything very substantial in them are represented by little castles and somewhat larger structures than are real, uh, at various points in the mountainous Peruvian coast.

 

 

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Des Nouvelles Isles, comment, quand & par qui elles ont este trouvees

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This map is a page, uh, from a compilation of maps by our friend Sebastian Munster, the 16th-century cartographer. In this particular case, it is, a French edition, Des Nouvelles Isles, the new islands, and it represents not a very real portrayal of the Caribbean islands but an impressionistic sense that there were lots of new islands that are now entering into the mind of the European explorer, and, uh, without trying to be accurate, I think Munster just throws a whole bunch of interesting Island-looking places together, together with a couple of ships, and this is the headline for what will be his more careful rendering of, uh, various islands in the Caribbean.

 

 

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Battle of Santo Domingo on Hispaniola

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This map is a map of the then-settlement of Santo Domingo on the, uh, island of Hispaniola. And one can see the fairly orderly center of the town, surrounded by various gardens and other human activity. One of the features that I like particularly is this nondescript sea monster, looks a little bit more like a salamander. A giant salamander, as big as any of the ships in the fleet, swimming alongside, heading toward the fleet. This is a good example of the, uh, woodcut technique and a very early 16th-century map of that, uh, that settlement.

 

 

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Atlantic Ocean floor

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This map is a map very much in our own era. In a collection of, uh, antique maps, uh, it is kind of the, uh, contrast, if you will, that is useful to make when looking at the- at the maps of three, four hundred years before. I particularly like this map because it essentially accentuates the ocean floor of the Atlantic – something that, uh, was clearly not known to the, um, the mapmakers of the fifteen and sixteen hundreds. And it, uh, it- it- it’s- it’s a wonderful map to show the cleavages in the ocean floor as the continental plates are shifting, moving apart from one another here and forcing themselves together, uh, there. A great colorful work by the National Geographic Magazine, which in many ways was the state of cartography for 50 years in the middle of the 20th Century.

 

Low resolution preview for in-copyright image.

 

Title: Atlantic Ocean floor

Contributor: National Geographic Society (U.S.). Cartographic Division

Call Number: SMITH I-28

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