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, h-a-c-h-u-r-e, 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– 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.
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.
This is a map by a mapmaker by the name of Jan – j-a-n – Jansson – j-a-n-s-s-o-n – who lived from 1588 to 1664. This was one of the prize maps in my collection, and I’m so glad that it is now in Villanova University’s Special Collections. It is a depiction of the lower portion of the then-known portions of North America, plus the, uh, Central American region, and the very top of the continent of South America. Featured are the great islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba and Hispaniola, and then of course the string of islands that radiate to the east from Hispaniola and circle down to the South American continent, the so-called Windward Islands. In this map we have two compass roses; each is the starting point for a series of lines called rhumb lines, thats r-h-u-m-b. Rhumb lines which could, and in many cases were, used by mariners to plot courses, at least portions of courses, as they navigated from one part of the world to another. Like so many maps of the day it also is rich with, uh, with illustrations – there are ships on the on the, uh, on the sea, there are various creatures – a lizard, a turtle, a snake and others – and circling the cartouche in the upper left-hand corner of this map. Again this map is called Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, and it is a prize, prize edition of an early map of the Caribbean.
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.
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.
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.
This map is a very early 16th-century rendering of the island of Hispaniola. It’s a little misleading because a discussion of Jamaica appears at the bottom that would continue on to the next page where the map of Jamaica would appear. But this, this, this is Hispaniola, and you’ll see an effort to render a town on the island called Isabella. Bordon was operating with very little information here, and so one can’t, uh, really see very much of the actual outline of the island of Hispaniola, which of course now includes, uh, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, here again was an early, early mapmaker doing his best and creating what is at least a very interesting rendering.
This map is a map by a French mapmaker by the name of Bellin, b- e -l- l- i- n. This particular map is a map of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean islands entitled Carte du Golphe du Méxique et des isles de l’Amérique. It was done in 1754 and as one can see by looking at it, not all of the land masses are shaped just the way they are today. Florida, for example, looks fairly much like a, uh, rectangular peg, as does the Yucatan peninsula. Nevertheless, Bellin’s work was important work, and he was the Chief of Cartography, of the so-called Depot de La Marine, which was the French cartography service that, uh, was so prominent in the middle of the 18th-century. In fact, it was the work of that group of cartographers, led by Bellin, that gave France much of its world power, because it had, at the time, the best maps that were available to anybody of many if not all of the – many parts, if not all, of the world. This particular map again was made in 1754 is nicely colored, is pleasing to the eye, and gives a snapshot of the way in which the world looked at that time.