Pensylvania, Nova Jersey et Nova York cum regionibus ad Fluvium Delaware in America sitis

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This is a map by Tobias Lotter focused on Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. It is an extraordinary map for lots of reasons. The depiction of the geography and political boundaries of the day reflect the way things were in the, uh, 1760s. Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey — great prominence; and Philadelphia is, at the time, the largest city reflected, marked as it is by a very large red eight-pointed star in the middle. Several comments are in order.

This map was made by a German mapmaker, Lotter, and he made it in response to great interest back in Germany about the area depicted. Eastern Pennsylvania was, after all, one of the principal places in which Germans emigrating to the Americas settled, and there would be more to come in part because of maps like this. They answered a felt need in Europe to tell a little bit more about what it is that this “New World” would look like if they, uh- if they came. In the, uh, upper left-hand corner, is a, uh, huge cartouche[1] – a colorful cartouche reflecting William Penn trading with indigenous people, and running through the, uh, the rest of the cartouche are a variety of animals – a wild turkey in the middle, a stag with great horns in the, uh, upper-right – and throughout there is activity that immediately draws the eye.

Another interesting feature of the map is the distortion of, uh, New England, which may, in part, have been intentional or, in part, simply for lack of knowledge. But New York is, uh, squeezed beyond recognition. Connecticut, uh, the same. Rhode Island is a mere blip. Massachusetts is highly narrowed and, remarkably, Cape Cod is reflected as being part of Connecticut. So, a lot of re-organizing of the understanding of this part of the world was yet to come. But, uh, as a map, and as a piece of attractive propaganda for coming to this part of the New World, the Lotter map is hard to surpass.

[1] “Cartouche, in architecture, ornamentation in scroll form, applied especially to elaborate frames around tablets or coats of arms. By extension, the word is applied to any oval shape or even to a decorative shield, whether scroll-like in appearance or not.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/art/cartouche Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

 

 

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Tabula selenographica

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This is a print by Doppelmayr and Homann of two understandings of the Moon. Now, it’s easy to guess that one of the depictions, perhaps the one on the left, is of the side facing the Earth and the other is the side not facing the Earth – but we know that one side of the Moon is always facing the Earth, and, at the time that these maps were prepared, in the mid-18th Century, humankind had no idea what the backside of the Moon looked like. So, what are these? Well, the depiction of the Moon on the left-hand side is a depiction that a mapmaker by the name of Hevelius (H-E-V-E-L-I-U-S) created, and his depiction of the Moon is sufficiently accurate that it became the foundation for most of the science of Selenography[1] that would follow in the centuries afterward. On the right-hand side is a different depiction of the same facing side of the Moon, this one by Riccioli for a Franciscan priest by the name of Grimaldi- er, excuse me, a Jesuit priest by the name of Grimaldi. What’s interesting about this depiction is that its names are the ones that stuck, and the way of referring to the Moon is the way we refer to it today. So, for example, on the left-hand side, the Hevelius side, we have a large dark section called “Mediterraneum,” but that same area is depicted on the Riccioli side as “Mare Imbrium,” the term that is still used today in referring to that part of the Moon. Of course, the Riccioli terminology was in part based on the erroneous notion that there were actual seas, hence the term “Mare” or “Sea.” We now know that there is not surface water, at least not surface water of any, uh, significance, on the Moon, but those are the names that stuck.

What’s also interesting about both the depictions is although one side of the Moon is always facing the Earth, there is enough variation from month to month that a little bit more than one half of the Moon’s surface is visible from time-to-time from the Earth, uh, hence the overlapping circles in both cases. As, uh, one can also see, there are some wonderful depictions of Cherubs – uh, one Cherub holding on his shoulder and the other looking through, presumably, emulating the way in which the early viewers of the Moon used telescopes to learn more about the surface.

[1] Selenography can be defined as “the science of the physical features of the moon” or “lunar geography.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/selenography Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.

 

 

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Hemisphere Septentrional pour voir plus distinctement les Terres Arctiques

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This is a view of the top half of the world by Guillaume de L’Isle. The “Hemisphere Septentrional” is depicted as well as the then-state of geographic knowledge permitted; but, as one can see, there is some uncertainty as to what exactly were the northern reaches of the North American continent, left quite non-distinct, as well as what the top of Greenland might have looked like, with some greater distinctiveness at the top of Europe.

It is a great map by a great mapmaker, de L’isle, and was printed by the house of Covens and Mortier. We don’t often think of the world in this fashion – looking down from above. But it is instructive to see what the world really looks like from that vantage point and how close we come to touching one another at the top of the world.

 

 

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Mappa geographica regionem Mexicanum et Floridam

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This is a map by Tobias Lotter, entitled Mappa geographica regionem Mexicanum et Floridam. The map was made roughly in the middle of the 18th century, around 1750, and, again, it marks the way in which the territories of the new world had, by that time, been marked out. There is a longish green portion to the east– on the east coast of North America, which are the then-British colonies. In the middle of the country, the lower half of the entire Mississippi Basin, as well as in the Florida peninsula, there is a pink mass all labeled Florida, and then a yellow portion descending below that reflects the Hispanic influence, all the way from what is now Mexico down through Central America. Like, uh, other maps by Lotter, the engraving is a little heavy-handed, but it sure pops out at you and catches your eye. In the lower left hand corner reflecting so much of the conflict that existed in the mid-18th century, between England and France and between Spain and each of them and between some other countries, including Holland, we see a pitched battle going on between cross-masted sailing warships with explosive clouds as one ship cannonaded another. Adding to the human interest, a further part of that illustration in the lower left depicts a number of people at the coast, with the one with a spyglass, one gesturing, observing this conflict going on. The map is also well known for depicting some of the important ports of the area. There’s a very large depiction, for example, of the port of, uh, Cartagena, and, uh, as well as several others. All together, a map that tells several stories and is well worth a close look.

 

 

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Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi

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This is a map, truly, to be reckoned with. It’s a map that was made by a Frenchman by the name of Guillaume de L’Isle and is entitled “Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi.” The map was originally made by de L’Isle in approximately 1718. What we have here is a, uh, reprint of the map by a French firm Cóvens and Mortier dating to 1730. When it was first made in 1718, this map was a real breakthrough. It charted the course of the Mississippi with an accuracy that had never been seen before. Of course, the Mississippi, uh, the Upper Mississippi and the Lower Mississippi were both, at that time, the province of French explorers and, perhaps equally important, French fur-traders who went up and down the Mississippi as the main “highway” plying their fur trade.

The map is important for other reasons as well. It is the first map ever to name Texas, which appears as “Mission de los Teijas” on the map, but it is that expression that matured to the name of America’s largest state among the forty-eight lower states. It is also distinctive because the territory in the middle called “La Louisiane” is huge. It surrounds all of the Mississippi, plunges down into Florida, presses up against the Carolinas and Virginia, and the overwhelming sense is that the French occupy most of the new North American continent. The British Colonies along the eastern seaboard barely cling on to the, uh, seaboard that they occupy, and this would be followed, later, by maps prepared by Englishmen showing the French portion of North America as much reduced and the English Colonies as extending a lot further out into the middle of the country than they do here. In many ways, this map is the father, or mother, of many maps to follow. De L’Isle was highly respected and this work of his would be reflected in maps for many generations to follow.

 

 

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A new chart of the Bahama Islands and the windward passage

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This map is entitled a new chart of the Bahama Islands and the Windward Passage. Well, this “new” chart, it was actually done in 1749, but at the time it was a contribution to one’s understanding of that portion of the Caribbean, lower Florida, and the Bahamas themselves. One of the distinctive features of the map is its depiction of two areas that are not in fact above water. Uh, one being the Bahama Bank and the other being the Grand Bahama Bank and, as the map shows, those relatively shallow areas surround the Bahamas. The shallowness of those banks provide for lots of good fishing, they also over time provided lots of ways in which ships could and did run aground. Cuba is at the very center of the, of the map, Jamaica below it and off to the right a portion of Hispaniola. The entire map is full of rhumb lines, r-h-u-m-b lines, which were very useful to navigators and, uh, helped them lay out courses using one portion of a rhumb line and then another in order to get from A to B. There’s a beautiful compass rose and lots of color in, uh, in what is I think a most soft and attractive map of that part of the world.

 

 

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Dominia Anglorum in America Septentrionali

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This map is actually four maps. It’s, uh, done by a German mapmaker by the name of Homann, and all together the four images are referred to as “Dominia Anglorum in America Septentrionali” – basically, four of the British colonies, English Colonies, in the North American continent. This being done by a German mapmaker, each one of the areas, Newfoundland for example, the New England area, Carolina and part of Florida, and Virginia and Maryland are nicely colored, each reflecting the jurisdictional boundaries of the- of the day. So, when one looks at this particular map, which was made originally in 1725 and then reprinted several times afterwards, you’re seeing a version of, for example, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that shows the Iroquois as occupying a very large portion of what is now Pennsylvania and New York, with New York squashed to the right and New England squashed still further to the right. Again, like, uh, so many maps, antique maps, this tells us a great deal about the way in which the lay of the land ran back at the time, and it’s always fascinating to compare it with what we know to be the geography and the boundaries of countries and states today. Almost certainly, all those boundaries will, over the next one-hundred or two-hundred years, evolve still further; so, with maps like this, we get to see a snapshot in time of four areas. So, stay tuned! We’ll see what they look like in another one-hundred years.

 

 

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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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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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