At this time last year, I shared a blog post reviewing maps that had been newly digitized that year. To celebrate the end of 2018 and to ring in 2019, I decided to continue the tradition and take a look back at the lists of maps that were scanned this past year and choose just a few to share with you!
Every month on our home page, we provide a monthly list of maps that have been scanned and added to the online collections of the Geography and Map Division. When scrolling through the lists, these two portolan charts scanned in May definitely caught my eye. Emerging in the thirteenth century as a navigational tool for mariners, there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding the origins and development of this particular type of map. The intricate charts below are half-joined at the backs and are folded within an oak cover. Made by Giovanni Battista Cavallini in 1640, the second map being signed and dated, they depict the names of harbors along the coastlines of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and adjoining waters. These maps were obtained by Philip Lee Phillips, the first Superintendent of Maps at the Library of Congress, around the turn of the twentieth century while on a trip in London for the price of £65!
Another map from the June list that captured my attention is the map below, titled Map of South Australia, New South Wales, Van Diemens Land, and Settled parts of Australia. It was published in 1850 by James Wyld, a well-known British map-seller as well as the appointed Geographer to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Wyld is most famously remembered for his attraction “Wyld’s Great Globe,” a 60 foot hollow globe with the earth depicted on the interior which visitors could climb into and explore. It was exhibited in London from 1861 to 1862 before it was unfortunately dismantled and destroyed. The map of Australia below is a typical example of the types of maps Wyld sold from his London shop, showing gold deposits, cities, towns, rivers, coastal lines, and topographical information. It also includes several insets of Sydney, Adelaide, Van Diemens Land, and Western Australia.
One last map to highlight that I found fascinating is a 1776 manuscript map found on the November list. The map depicts the British and American troop positions in the New York City region at the time of the Battle of Long Island (Aug.-Sept. 1776) during the American Revolution. The precise details hand-drawn onto the map by an unknown cartographer are what drew me in. The map shows troop positions, fortifications, ship anchorage areas, roads, built-up areas, villages, and agricultural field areas. It appears that this map was copied from the Des Barres sheets of the Atlantic Neptune, a five volume atlas published between 1774-1777 that consists of extremely detailed and shaded nautical charts of the North American coast, many of which are digitized at the Library.
There are many more treasures to be found within the Library’s digitized collections! Take a look yourself through what has been scanned this last year or check back every month of this new year for an updated list of the scanned items added to the online collections of the Geography and Map Division. Make sure to also check out the newly available Sanborn maps; all pre-1900 Sanborn maps are now available to view and download as well as post-1900 public domain sheets from 19 states. With over 6 million maps in the collection, including the newly scanned panoramic map below, there is still plenty of scanning to do in the coming year!