Charting the Unknown: Collectible Maps and Cartographyby Beth Carswell
Let's hear it for cartographers. Without map-makers, who knows how we'd find our way around. But they have an easier job of it today, with most of the globe explored, charted, recorded and explored again. Early map-makers struggled against many adversities - imagine traveling to far-off lands and trying to accurately record your voyage, on tiny scale, well enough for the next ship of travellers to follow your route?
And all this before smart phones, too.
The origins of cartography are difficult to pinpoint, as the definitions of maps tend to vary widely from scholar to scholar. But from early cave paintings of geographical directions, to clay tablets originating in ancient Greece and Babylonia, humans have been using meticulous drawings as a means of recording our explorations of the world around us for thousands of years.The possibilities of wide exploration and more accurate cartography rose sharply in the 15th century, with the advent of the Gutenberg printing press, and a growing desire for trade products not commonly available worldwide. Previously, the art of map-making had been heavily intuitive and problematic to replicate or verify. It was in the 15th century that the Roman mathematician, geographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy's Cosmographia, originally compiled in the 2nd century AD, was translated from Greek into Latin and became Germany's first published atlas by Lienhart Holl in 1482.
Many maps are not only records of information but also things of great beauty - map-makers frequently embellished their creations with elaborate whaling scenes, illustrations of ships, sea monsters and more. Many maps also include a cartouche, which is a decorative emblem or enclosure on a map. A map's cartouche (example at right) often involves scrolls and seals, shields and other symbols of country and creator, the date of the map's completion and more. Cartouches became commonplace in map usage in the 1500s, and were often used as the signature of the map-maker, again incorporating information about the map itself as well as varying artistic elements and even mythical animals.
Today, rare and antique maps are highly prized by collectors. Inaccuracies, changing region names and borders and previously held beliefs about the world we live in all contribute to making maps one of the most elegant ways to enjoy the history of our geography.
Please note: quantity on rare books extremely limited; copies on display may sell quickly.
Rare Maps and Antiquarian Maps
Single Map from 'A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine' - 1650 (sold)
Hand-colored original map of 1650 Palestine from the Mediterranean Eastward. Features a whale scene in the upper left.
The World and Continents - 1649
An excellent set of the World and Continents, by Hondius and Jansson, two of the Netherlands' greatest cartographers.
Sea Chart Map of the World - 1683
Rhumb lines, wind compass roses, ships, and the title cartouche are all displayed with a tremendous panache and sense of style.
Antique Map of Japan - 1606
The decoration to the map includes: sea monsters, a Japanese junk and a Dutch galleon. This map is considered to be a milestone in Japan's cartography
Color Map of Fridtjof Nansen's Most Famous Expedition - 1896
Signed by Norwegian explorer of the Arctic Fridtjof Nansen, whose 1893-1896 quest to sail around Greenland and to the North Pole resulted in him abandoning his ship and continuing along by dogsled.
Map of Florida - 1594
Splendid color map of 1594 Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, Yucata and more. Described in Latin. Illustrations include ships, a large fish, and sea serpents.
An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina - 1776 (sold)
Used in the American Revolution by George Washington, whose copy, folded and mounted on cloth, resides at the American Geographical Society.
The Caribbean/West Indies - 1762
Mapmaker Thomas Jefferys was a London engraver who was appointed Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and King George III.
Map of the Roman Empire - 1730
An Historic Map of the Roman Empire and the 'neighboring barbarous nations' - large scale, by Herman Moll.
North America - The Codfish Map - 1730
Herman Moll's "Codfish Map", famous for its educational, large cartouche of the cod industry. Dried cod was a staple for the Royal Navy.
A New Map of Spaine - 1676
Beautifully embellished with a rose compass, a ship sailing and people from all over the kingdom decorating the map's borders.
South America - 1719
A map of South America with original hand coloring, featuring detail of the Potosi region in (modern-day) Bolivia, a rich natural silver resource.
Map of Middle East/Arabia - 1645 (sold)
Copper-engraved map of the Turkish Empire and Arabia, featuring an informational text cartouche accompanied as well by a decorative coat of arms.
A Map of Part of Yucatan Part of the Eastern Shore - 1787
This rare, large-scale British map of Belize was produced after the
Logwood Trade convention treaty between Great Britain and Spain.
A New Map of Jamaica - 1771
A highly detailed map showing towns, churches, forts, sugar works, Gentlemens Seats, Taverns, Roads and barracks, etc
Map of Amsterdam - 1587 (sold)
Finely executed engraved map of Amsterdam with color illustrations by Abraham Ortelius.
Map of Eastern Colonial Canada and United States - 1755
This important map was issued at the outbreak of hostilities in the French and Indian War. A small vignette of Niagara Falls adds further interest.
A Map of Cape Cod and the Islands - 1930
Pictorial map of Cape Cod and surrounding areas featuring many illustrations, including King Neptune holding a sign that reads "Nantucket Sound" on his trident.
Map of the China Front - 1944
"Areas under Japanese occupation" and "cities in which detached Japanese garrisons are maintained" are marked in red tones.
A New Map of Ireland - 1730
Divides the country up into its four provinces of Ulster, Connaught, Munster and Leinster, then subdivides those into their 32 individual counties.
Map of Sri Lanka - 1513
A very early map of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon, as named by the Portuguese in 1505) by mapmaker Martin Waldseemuller.
Map of New England - 1928
A delightful and rarely seen map of New England. The ocean area is particularly fanciful with a sea monster, a whaling scene and several kinds of fish and ships.
Map of Cuba - 1911
A very rare military mapping of Cuba, relating to the Spanish-American Way.
Map of the Gold Regions of California - 1849
Published in 1849, this map offered prospective gold seekers all of the information necessary to make the arduous trek to the West Coast.
The Sportsman's Map of Alaska - 1933
For all gentlemen whale harpooners, climbers of mountains, hunters of big game, and Alaskaneers - with inset of lower 48 states, Asia and Alaska.