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.
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 is a map by a mapmaker by the name of Jan Jansson 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 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 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 illustrations – there are ships 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 edition of an early map of the Caribbean.
This map is a page 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 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 various islands in the Caribbean.
This map is a map by a French mapmaker by the name of Bellin. 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 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 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.
This is a map by Guillaume de L’Isle, a famous French cartographer, reflecting most of the Windward Islands, that is the islands of the Caribbean that front the Atlantic Ocean. Most of these islands were, at the time the map was prepared in the early 1700s, were possessions or controlled by France and therefore they are gathered together as a group of the French Antilles. The map being designated Carte des Antilles Françoises et des isles voisines, and the neighboring Isles. Off to the right, we see Barbados, which is an English possession, but virtually all of the others – Martinique, St Lucie, St Vincent, et cetera – are most all of them French at the time. So it’s a single-purpose map, but a nice depiction and a very nice compass rose, and lots of detail for all of those French islands.