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Archive: 2020 (8 Posts)

A hunter shooting at a large cat crossing a river.

The Exotic Animals of the Americas

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

European colonists were fascinated with the wildlife of the Western Hemisphere. They described fauna native to the Americas in memoirs, travel journals and poetry. Pictures of the unfamiliar animals were often printed on maps. In this post I will discuss four colonial era maps that were decorated with illustrations of animals. The two maps of …

A page from William Hacke's atlas.

William Hacke: A Pirate’s Cartographer

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

William Hacke was one of the most prolific manuscript chart makers for his time. According to the Oxford  Dictionary of National Biography Hacke produced over 300 navigational charts from 1682 to 1702. In this post I will briefly discuss his career and his role in the pardon of the notorious pirate Bartholomew Sharp. William Hacke was …

An image of the title page for the atlas by Ortelius.

Ortelius: A Legendary Mapmaker

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

Many years ago I visited an antique show held at the Washington D.C. Stadium Armory. Dealers from all over the United States displayed almost every kind of antique on tables throughout the market. One of the dealers owned an antique map store in St. Louis. I looked at many maps, dated from the 19th century …

A map of the moon by Galileo Galilei.

Going to the Moon: Early Cartography of the Lunar Surface

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

The lunar maps shown in this post were created long before satellite images became available. The topography is highly detailed and the historical backgrounds of the astronomers who created them are compelling. The first working telescope was built in the Netherlands in 1608. British astronomer Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) made the first recorded sketches of the …

A map of the world that was published in 1541.

Taprobana: Sumatra or Ceylon?

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

The Greek explorer and historian Megasthenes wrote that Taprobana was divided by a river and abundant in pearls and gold. Taprobana  was located somewhere in the Indian Ocean and usually shown on historical maps as a large island south of India. There have been many theories about the identity of the island. Some thought Taprobana …