Again, we see, both the top of North America, the top of Europe, and the top of Asia, as it was then, as they each were then understood, all quite uncertain. Of the cartouches, and there are, there’s one in the upper-portion and one in the lower-right are wonderfully imaginative. Winds are blowing from various faces. And in the lower-right we have a marvelous combination of two explorers, a polar bear, and what look like two foxes perhaps, or a fox and a deer – some of the wildlife that might have been discovered or seen up in that northern reach.
When compared with still earlier versions of the North Pole, others of which are in the Villanova collection, we get a wonderful series of views as man’s understanding of the northern parts of the world became better and better. It might be said, however, that as our accuracy improved, the colorfulness of the various depictions declined. And I still have a great fondness for these maps in the 1600s and the 1500s which tell their own wonderful story however mythological they might be. “In navigation, a rhumb line […] is an arc crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle, that is, a path with constant bearing as measured relative to true or magnetic north.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhumb_line
 “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
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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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There are various insets. One depicting the top of the world, the Arctic region. And one depicting the bottom of the world, the Antarctic region.
If one looks through the map at various points where there may be a blank spot, the mapmaker has chosen to fill them in with some interesting animal life or other activity that characterized that part of the world. Obviously, by this date, not too much was known by the interior either of South America or North America, and when one looks up to the North American portion of the map, there is a great deal of blank space, a great deal of geography yet to be discovered.
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