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Category: 16th century cartography

Detail of printed map of Florida. The Everglades bear the label "Extensive inundated region covered with pine and hummock islands, of all sizes, and generally called The Ever Glades."

Swampland in Florida

Posted by: Amelia Raines

Recently I came across an interesting map of Florida in our collections. Dated 1823, the map was made only four years after the territory of Florida was ceded to the United States by Spain, and 22 years before it became a state in its own right. The map, authored by surveyor Charles Vignoles and engraved …

A landsat image of part of Iceland.

Mapping the Land of Fire and Ice

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

Early maps of Iceland are compelling, they are often embellished with sea monsters and pictorials. Modern maps of the country are equally interesting because of the unique shape and terrain of the island. Iceland, with its glaciers and volcanoes, is accurately nicknamed the “Land of Fire and Ice.” The maps of Iceland featured in this …

Illustrated and illuminated map of the northern Indian Ocean showing ships, islands, wildlife, cities, and people

Winds of (Ex)Change in the Indian Ocean

Posted by: Amelia Raines

Take a look at this monsoon chart, paying special attention to the western Indian Ocean between the east coast of Africa and the west coast of India, and you might notice a pattern: The left chart depicts the prevailing winds in the Indian Ocean in February; the right, in August. In winter, a sea of …

Circular world map with cherubs blowing wind towards it illuminated in gold.

Magnificent Maps From the World Digital Library

Posted by: Julie Stoner

Launched in 2009, the World Digital Library [WDL] was a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO, and contributions from libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. The WDL sought to preserve and share some of the world’s most important cultural objects, increasing access to cultural …

A stained glass window showing an image of Saint Brendan.

Searching for Saint Brendan’s Island

Posted by: Cynthia Smith

Over the years I have noticed the placement of Saint Brendan’s Island on historical maps. I became curious about the mythical island and the story behind it. Saint Brendan’s Island was placed in different locations on maps of the Atlantic Ocean. The island was often placed west of England and Ireland. It was also placed …

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 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 …