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.
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.