Old Maps, Ingenuity, and the Internet

Plate CXXVIII. Roseburg Quadrangle, Oregon, Land Classification and Density of Standing Timber (Cartography Associates CC BY-NC-SA)
Plate CXXVIII. Roseburg Quadrangle, Oregon, Land Classification and Density of Standing Timber (Cartography Associates CC BY-NC-SA)

I love old maps. Many are wildly inaccurate. Many are fanciful. Many are surprisingly well done. In our era of Google Maps and GPS, it is easy to forget that early mapmakers could not easily see what they were drawing from above. The combination of skills, tricks, rules-of-thumb, and artistry that goes into cartography bends the mind.

David Rumsey has collected maps for decades and decided to donate his map collection to the Internet. Now, the internet has one more thing with which it can distract me.

*Hat tip to Rebecca Rosen.

 

Author: Josh Witten

http://www.thefinchandpea.com

One thought on “Old Maps, Ingenuity, and the Internet”

  1. me too! my undergrad institution had a map room in the library!

    My personal favorite map I own (and I own a variety of them) is a 1855 Italian (well, Kingdom of Piedmont/Sardinia) map of Crimea — they were allies of the French in the Crimean War because they wanted the French to help them unify Italy — which, of course, didn’t exactly happen that way. Regardless, VERY few Italian soldiers (if any) actually made it to Crimea. So, most likely what I have is one of the general’s maps (it folds and is backed with canvas — perhaps 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet) as is probably a copy of a French one.

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