This map is a map of the Caribbean by an Italian mapmaker named Luigi Rossi. The map is, of course, in Italian and reflects both the Windward Islands – those are the islands more to the west, referred to here as the Isole del Vento (Islands of the Wind) – and along the bottom of the gulf are islands like Curaçao and so on, which are referred to as the Leeward Islands, or in Italian, Isole sotto il Vento (the Islands under the Winds). It’s a nice map with outline color, nicely engraved, and makes an effort to identify which nations control which islands through a color code reflected in the upper left-hand corner. The islands owned or controlled by France are one thing, the islands owned or controlled by the English are another, and by looking at the color coding one can tell one island and its allegiance from another – at least at that time.
These are two highly detailed maps of portions of the island of Cuba, emphasizing the geographical and topographical nature in each section. The mountains, and of course there are very significant mountains throughout Cuba, the mountains are rendered and made quite graphic with a technique known at the time as hachure, which with very fine strokes of the engraving pen create a sense of what is up and what is down and the result is quite powerful in showing the elevations – at least relative elevations- of the mountains of the island. All of that has been replaced in modern times by topographic lines, lines of equal height above sea level, but there is a compellingness about this particular technique. One of the maps reflects the Bay of Havana and both the maps are about as complete as could be done by the producing authority here, which was the Office of the Chief of Engineers in the United States of America. So, this was the best depiction that the United States had, and I imagine anybody of the world had of the interior of Cuba as of 1873, the date that the maps were prepared.
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 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 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 Cartagena, as well as several others. All together, a map that tells several stories and is well worth a close look.
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. 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 map, Jamaica below it and off to the right a portion of Hispaniola. The entire map is full of rhumb lines, which were very useful to navigators and 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 what is I think a most soft and attractive map of that part of the world.