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Fan Maps of the Geography and Map Division

This post focuses on three decorative 19th century fans from the collections of the Geography and Map Division. The art of Asian fan making dates to ancient times. According to Gonglin Qian, author of Chinese Fans: Artistry and Aesthetics the earliest Chinese fan that has been found dates from 475 to 221 BC. It was discovered during an excavation in Hubei Province. Antique fans were often decorated with landscapes, floral designs, people or calligraphy. The fans featured below are unique because they were decorated with maps. My interest in the fan maps prompted me to learn more about them and how they were acquired for the collections of the Library of Congress.

The title of the fan map below translates to Complete Map of the Twenty-Three Provinces of the Great Qing Dynasty. The map shows administrative and political divisions in China as well as less detailed maps of Taiwan, Japan and Korea. The map is oriented with north to the upper right.  It is believed that the fan was made in Shanghai for 19th century gentry administrators.

Da Qing yi tong er shi san sheng yu di quan tu. Complete map of the twenty-three provinces of the great Qing Dynasty. Shenjiang mo shu guan. 1890. Geography and Map Division.

Da Qing yi tong er shi san sheng yu di quan tu. Complete map of the twenty-three provinces of the great Qing Dynasty. Shenjiang mo shu guan. 1890. Geography and Map Division.

The fan featured below was acquired for the Library’s collections in 1934. A celestial chart is shown on the front of the fan. The major stars are listed on the back. The title translates to The Great Qing Dynasty’s Map of all Under Heaven. The map is part of a special collection of Chinese cartographic materials known as the Hummel Collection. The collection was named after Dr. Arthur William Hummel, the former Chief of Orientalia Division (now Asian Division). The following information was taken from Mr. Hummel’s obituary published in a February 1976 issue of The Journal of Asian Studies.

Da Qing yi tong tian di quan tu. 1890. Geography and Map Division.

Da Qing yi tong tian di quan tu. The great Qing Dynasty’s complete map of all under heaven. 1890. Geography and Map Division.

Arthur Hummel was born in Warrenton, Missouri in 1884. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His doctoral dissertation was titled The Autobiography of a Chinese Historian.

Hummel studied the Chinese language for a year in Peking. In 1915, he moved to the city of Fenyang, China where he taught English for ten years at a middle school. While living in Fenyang Mr. Hummel visited local shops where he purchased a large number of antique maps and coins. In 1924 he returned to Peking and taught Chinese history for three years to western students at an institution named the Yenching School of Chinese studies.

In 1927, Dr. Hummel returned to the United States and was asked to give a presentation on Chinese history at a meeting of the Institute of Politics in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Colonel Lawrence Martin, Chief of the Division of Maps (now Geography and Map Division) attended the meeting. Colonel Martin invited Hummel to bring his collection of maps to the Library of Congress. Hummel brought the maps in a steamer trunk to Washington DC. The Librarian of Congress, Dr. Herbert Putnam, inspected Mr. Hummel’s collection and asked him to join the Library of Congress staff. Dr. Hummel accepted a temporary position that was to last six to eight months. He later became permanently employed as Chief of the Orientalia Division from 1928 to 1954. During the year 1929 Hummel’s collection of maps was purchased by Andrew W. Mellon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a gift for the collections of the Division of Maps. Dr. Hummel donated additional Chinese maps to the Division of Maps during the years 1934 and 1961.

A manuscript map of Korea was mounted on the fan below. The fan map was acquired for the collections of the Division of Maps in 1929. It is part of a special collection known as the Langdon Warner Collection. The Langdon Warner Collection consists of manuscript maps, atlases and fan maps of Korea and China that were collected by the archaeologist and art historian Langdon Warner. Mr. Warner graduated in 1903 from Harvard University with a specialty in Buddhist art. He became a professor at Harvard and a curator at Harvard’s Fogg Museum.

Cholla-do chido. 1800-1899. Geography and Map Division.

Cholla-do chido. 1800-1899. Geography and Map Division.

The fan maps shown above served as functional art forms during the 19th century. In my opinion, all three are works of outstanding artistry and craftsmanship.

Learn More:

Read more about the Hummel Collection in Obituary: Author W. Hummel (1884-1975). by Edwin G. Beal and Janet F. Beal. The Journal of Asian Studies, Feb. 1976, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 265-276. Available on www.jstor.com.

Read a cartobibliography titled  Descriptive catalogue of the traditional Chinese maps collected in the Library of Congress by Xiaocong Li.

18th Century Maps of North America: Perception vs. Reality

Between 1755 and 1775, over the course of just twenty years, three seminal maps of North America were published in London, even though those responsible for the maps never left England! These three maps, discussed in more detail below, were prepared for a British audience in an attempt to reinforce opinions regarding British control of North America. A fourth map, also published in London, depicts the extent of the United States in 1802.

Mitchell, John, Thomas Kitchin, and Andrew Millar. A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements, humbly inscribed to the Right Honourable the Earl of Halifax, and the other Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations. [London; Sold by And: Millar, 1755] Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Mitchell, John, Thomas Kitchin, and Andrew Millar. A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements, humbly inscribed to the Right Honourable the Earl of Halifax, and the other Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations. [London; Sold by And: Millar, 1755] Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Arguably the most important of the first three pre-1800 maps addressed in this blog is John Mitchell’s iconic 1755 Map of the British and French Dominions in North America pictured above. At the request of the English Board of Trade and Plantations, the equivalent of the State Department, Mitchell was tasked with preparing a large map of North America based upon maps provided by each of the thirteen colonial governors. The intriguing story behind the map lies with its illustrated claim of English sovereignty extending from the Atlantic Ocean westward past the Mississippi and, eventually, to the Pacific Ocean. These claims are evidenced by the horizontal colonial boundaries extending into French territory.

Our second map, pictured below, was originally published in London by Emanuel Bowen in 1763. Unlike Mitchell’s map, which incorporated the territorial aspirations of the British colonies, the 1763 map by Bowen illustrated the political realities dictated by the 1763 Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Year’s War in North America.

Bowen, Emanuel, -1767, J Gibson, and Robert Sayer. An accurate map of North America. Describing and distinguishing the British and Spanish dominions on this great continent; according to the definitive treaty concluded at Paris 10th Feby. Also all the West India Islands belonging to, and possessed by the several European princes and states. London, Printed for Robert Sayer, 1763. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Bowen, Emanuel, -1767, J Gibson, and Robert Sayer. An accurate map of North America. Describing and distinguishing the British and Spanish dominions on this great continent; according to the definitive treaty concluded at Paris 10th Feby. Also all the West India Islands belonging to, and possessed by the several European princes and states. London, Printed for Robert Sayer, 1763. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

The third revolutionary map in our saga was published in London by Carington Bowles in 1771. Like the Bowen map illustrated above, it, too, includes colonial territory lost in 1763, but also emphasizes unsettled colonial boundaries.  Of those, the most notable are the western boundary of Pennsylvania, the northeastern boundary of Virginia, and the western boundary of New York, as establishment of each defined those colonies’ access to Lake Erie.

Bowles, Carington. North America, and the West Indies; a new map, wherein the British Empire and its limits, according to the definitive treaty of peace, in , are accurately described, and the dominions possessed by the Spaniards, the French, & other European States. The whole compiled from all the new surveys, and authentic memoirs that have hitherto appeared. [London, 1774 ?, 1774]

Bowles, Carington. North America, and the West Indies; a new map, wherein the British Empire and its limits, according to the definitive treaty of peace, in , are accurately described, and the dominions possessed by the Spaniards, the French, & other European States. The whole compiled from all the new surveys, and authentic memoirs that have hitherto appeared. [London, 177?, 1771]. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

The final map of North America in our brief exploration of revolutionary maps was published in London in 1802. Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) produced the most current and accurate cartographic representation of the American West up to that date. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark carefully studied the map in 1803 and even carried a copy on the first leg of their landmark expedition. Arrowsmith’s map immediately pre-dates the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and subsequent 1804-06 expedition by Lewis & Clark.  Rather than fill in the American West with conjectural or inaccurate data, he has deliberately left large areas blank, allowing viewers to envision for themselves the nature of the vast territory recently acquired before the landscape could be recorded by scientific surveys.

Arrowsmith, Aaron, and J Puke. A map exhibiting all the new discoveries in the interior parts of North America. [London: A. Arrowsmith, 1802]. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. 

So why are these maps significant? And how do they illustrate cartographic perception and geographic reality?  First, British control of North America is implied in Mitchell’s 1755 map which depicts British colonies extending from “sea to sea”.  Secondly, the geographic reality of British control of North America are all shown on the commercially produced 1763 Bowen map, the 1774 Bowles’ map, and Arrowsmith’s 1802 map which all relied on factual data. It all comes down to the intentions of each cartographer and those who employed the cartographers!

Learn more:

Creating the United States. A Library of Congress exhibit drawing heavily on items related to American Revolution from various parts of the Library. (April 2008 – May 2012).

Rivers, Edens, and Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America. A Library of Congress exhibit showcasing items from various collections the related to Lewis and Clark expedition. (July 2003 – November 2003).

Read more »

Hy-Brasil: The Supernatural Island

Hy-Brasil never existed, however, it was often shown on maps as a very small island west of Ireland. The name Hy-Brasil originated from Celtic mythology. According to Irish folklore an island named Hy-Brasil was visible from the west coast of Ireland for only one day every seven years, the rest of the time it was […]

Going to the Moon: Early Cartography of the Lunar Surface

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 […]

Surveying: The Art of Measuring Land, Part One

This is the first of two posts outlining traditional 18th and 19th surveying methods. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, surveying is the art and science of measuring land. More precisely, it is “a means of making relatively large-scale, accurate measurements of the Earth’s surface.”  The authoritative 18th century treatise on surveying, entitled “The Compleat Surveyor or […]

Propaganda Maps to Strike Fear, Inform, and Mobilize – A Special Collection in the Geography and Map Division

Filled with heavy topics of war and occupation, War map: pictorial and propaganda map collection 1900-1950 contains maps and messages that frequently are pointed, unapologetic, and echo the anger and desperation of nations at war. The collection of 180 maps typifies how cartographs were used to influence popular opinion and garner support for military and political efforts […]

Sailing the Early Seas with Portolan Charts

The collections of the Library of Congress include thirteen early nautical or portolan charts published between 1320 and 1734.  Cartographic historians and map librarians are familiar with these early charts.  But what, exactly, is a “portolan” chart?  This post will attempt to address a few of the basic ideas revolving around these early nautical charts. […]