Auction status
User login

  Find us on Facebook

Articles about mapping

We hope you enjoy the following readings. Please return often as we add articles on a regular basis.


Celestial Charts and globes.

The earliest representations of the sky were actually globes, on which the constellations were shown as though viewed from a God-like position beyond the stars; this meant that the constellation shapes were represented back to front by comparison with the way we see them from Earth.
The earliest surviving depictions of the Ptolemaic constellations on paper are found in illuminated manuscripts of the poetic works of Aratus and Hyginus, dating from the 9th century and onwards. These illustrations were the creation not of astronomers but of artists who interpreted the figures quite freely, with little concern for the framework of the underlying stars.
Read more

Henry Schenck Tanner.

Henry Schenck Tanner was born in New York City, but moved to Philadelphia. Trained as an engraver, he engraved many of his maps in the 1804 edition of 'A New and Elegant General Atlas' of Arrowsmith and Lewis. He engraved the frontispiece and many of the maps in John Melish's 'Military and Topographical Atlas of the United States' (1813 and 1815). and, with J.Vallance, engraved Melish's fundamental "Map of the United States" (1816), the text accompanying which shaped Tanner's thought.
Tanner is best known for his New American Atlas, published in five parts from 1818 to 1823, with a last edition published in 1839.
Read more

Old Maps of Taiwan.

Taiwan was inhabited by aborigines of Malayan descent when Chinese from the areas now designated as Fukien and Kwangtung began settling it in the 7th century, becoming the majority. The Portuguese explored the area in 1590, naming it 'the Beautiful' (Formosa).
The island's modern history goes back to around 1590, when the first Western ship passed by the island, and Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a Dutch navigator on a Portugese ship, exclaimed "Ilha Formosa" (meaning "Beautiful island"), which became its name for the next four centuries.
Read more

Old Maps of Korea.

No ancient maps of Korea are extant today, although several references are made to the existence of earlier maps in history books such as; Kim Pu-shiks Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms, 1145 AD.) and Monk Iryon's Samguk Yusa (Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, c.1270 AD.).
Furthermore, these records are not very detailed as to the contents of the maps. Accordingly, we may say that all the old maps extant in Korea, were made during the Yi dynasty.
Read more

Atlas Russicus.

The Russian Academy of Sciences was created in 1724 in St Petersburg. It was not only intended to coordinate and produce science, but also to aid in solutions to practical problems. Many foreign scientists were invited to participate.
Joseph Nicolas Delisle was invited to head the department of geography, and he duly came in 1726.
The making of the first atlas Russicus , not surprisingly considering the size of the country, took a long time. New bearings in trigonometry had to be taken all over the country. Existing cartographic material had to be obtained and analyzed.
Read more

The earliest maps to use the name Etats-Unis (United States) in the title.

The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4th 1776, was headed "The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America" while also, later in the text, referring to the "United Colonies." In the Articles of Confederation, signed in late 1777, the name "The United States of America" was adopted for the new republic. In 1778, a map was published in France made by J.B.Eliot, referring to the "United States" in the title. The "Eliot map" has been described as "the earliest to include in its title "les Treize Colonies Unies de l'Amerique ...", thus claiming priority in the naming of the new nation, in its French translation ..."
Read more

Cartographical curiosities, mythical Islands & odyties..

When reading maps, we expect map makers to use standard conventions, especially in regard to projection, orientation, scale, and symbols. When a map maker does not use generally-accepted practices, we ask why? What is the story the map maker is trying to tell?
The Leo Belgius and the Pegasus map by Bünting are likely the most welknown cartographic curiosities. The auction samples a few items.
Read more


Willem Janszoon Blaeu.

(1571-1638) founded one of history's greatest cartographic publishing firms in 1599.The Blaeu family has its origin in the island of Wieringen, where, in about 1490, Willem Jacobsz., alias Blauwe Willem, the grandfather of Willem Jansz. Blaeu was born. From the marriage of Willem Jacobsz. and Anna Jansd. sprang six children. The second son, Jan Willemsz. (1527-before 1589) was the father of Willem Jansz Blaeu, who continued the family tradition by practising the trade of herring packer. In his second marrariage with Stijntge. Willem Jansz Blaeu was born in 1571.
Blaeu moved in 1598/9 from Alkmaar to Amsterdam, and set up a shop selling globes, seaman's instruments and maps. In 1605, he moved to the nowadays called Damrak, where most of the Amsterdam booksellers and mapmakers were established at that time. The house was called 'In de Vergulde Sonnewyser' (In the gilt sundail). By 1608, he had already published a fine world map and a popular marine atlas. His early works include a globe from 1599, and maps of European countries and a world map in 1604-1608.
Read more

Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville.
Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville was perhaps the most important and prolific cartographer of the 18th century. He engraved his first map at the age of fifteen and produced many maps of high quality throughout his career. He became the finest cartographer of his time and carried on the French school of cartography developed by the Sanson and the de L'Isle families. Although he apparently never left the city of Paris, he had access to the reports and maps of French explorers, traders, and missionaries. During his long career he accumulated a large collection of cartographic materials that has been preserved. He was particularly interested in Asia and produced the first reasonably accurate map of China in 1735.
It is known that Thomas Jefferson acquired seven maps by d'Anville in 1787, and although the titles of the maps he acquired are not known, Jefferson must have been familiar with d'Anville's maps of North America, including "Carte de la Louisiane." In a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin relating to a newly commissioned map of North America, Jefferson discussed the use of d'Anville as a reference for the lower Mississippi basin. Meriwether Lewis obtained a copy prior to the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
Read more
Hand colouring of antique maps.

Many antique maps were hand-coloured, but some were intended not to be. The richness of early colouring is difficult to duplicate in the present. Maps with original colouring, called contemporary colour, are quite desirable to find. Modern colouring is sometimes applied, but many collectors insist that a map should remain in its original state.
Colouring varies with old maps. When they were produced some maps were fully coloured at the time, some were partly coloured, some were coloured in outline, and many not coloured at all.
Maps were originally coloured to enhance appearance and readability. Generally three or four colours (green, pink, orange and yellow) distinguished political subdivisions, black was used for names, red coloured cathedrals or other buildings distinguish large cities and blue stands for water.
Read more

Anna Beek.
Anna WESTER STEE, also known as Anna Beek (born The Hague 25th November 1657 - died the Hague after October 1717), she was a publisher of prints. Daughter of Frederick of Westerstee uand Anna van Alphen. Anna Westerstee married on the first day of May 1678 in The Hague to Barent Beek (1654 to August 1713), whowas an art dealer and publisher. From this marriage were born three daughters and four sons.
Anna Beek was commissioned by Willem III of Orange, inbetween 1690 and 1700 and produced for him a collection of 10 volumes of plates. The 10 volumes are bound in richly gilded bindings and have all the Dutch Roral coat-of-arms of arms. Mrs. Anna Beek, enlarged each of the prints and mounted them on larger paper: she coloured them in pastel colours, adding extensive clouds and brilliant yellow borders. This way of enlarging prints is also known from the famous Van der Hem/Prinz Eugen Atlas and those in the former Royal print-collection kept in Jemniste in Czechoslovakia.
Read more
The North West Passage.

Before the Little Ice Age, Norwegian Vikings sailed as far north and west as Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island, and Ruin Island for hunting expeditions and trading with the Inuit groups who already inhabited the region. Between the end of the 15th century and the 20th century, colonial powers from Europe dispatched explorers in an attempt to discover a commercial sea route north and west around North America. The Northwest Passage represented a new route to the established trading nations of Asia, as in 1493, to defuse trade disputes, Pope Alexander VI split the discovered world in two between Spain and Portugal; thus France, the Netherlands, and England were left without a sea route to Asia, either via Africa or South America, unless their ships defied the ban and explored such waters regardless; which they did, and the ban became unenforceable. England called the hypothetical northern route the "Northwest Passage". The desire to establish such a route motivated much of the European exploration of both coasts of North America.
Read more

Polish historical maps.

The first cartographic images of territory of Poland have appeared in Antique time (2nd age). From then, all development of Poland cartography can be divided into stages: low accuracy (until the first half of the 16th century); general cartography (the second half of 16th century; first half of the 18th century); professional topography, modern topography, thematic cartography, modern cartography. Each period has its own characteristics in terms of representation methods, level of detail and accuracy. The first geographical data about the territory of Poland are found in the works of Ancient Greeks and Romans. In the third book of the "Geographical Guide" by Claudius Ptolemy, there is a description of the Baltic area.
Read more

The rivalry between the houses of Blaeu and Hondius. - A rare atlas from 1629.

One of the most dramatic events in the early history of commercial cartography in Amsterdam, was the sale in 1629, of circa 40 Jocodus Hondius Jr. copperplates by his widow to Willem Jansz. Blaeu, the most important competitor of the Hondius-Janssonius firm.
Blaeu replaced Jodocus Hondius Jr's name with his own on the plates and the following year, had published them together with his own maps. His brother Henricus Hondius, angry at the sale of plates to their competitor, engaged engravers to cut similar plates or better and finer and who shoot be ready within eighteen months.
Above all these Jodocus Hondius Jr. plates mark the new engraving style and format and hereby setting the new trend in Amsterdam atlas production.
Read more

GOOS Zuijder Zee chart Sea charts.

Sea charts, whether printed or in manuscript form, often have a romantic appeal far stronger than that of land maps. The romance of the seaman's intrepid voyages through uncharted waters can often be sensed when examining a chart.

Before the development of printing there was an active chart making industry based around the Mediterranean in places like Genoa, Venice and Majorca. From such centers manuscript 'rutters' and 'portolans' were produced for the Mediterranean and Southern European Atlantic coasts. Throughout the sixteenth century the manuscript portolan, in single sheet or atlas form, was the only relatively accurate source of navigating information. Read more

Soil and geological maps

Soil maps.

There is 'something' about soil maps from the early twentieth century. Their colors seem more vivid than those of modern maps. Even their legends are more interesting: Soil maps were primarily created to delineate the soils of the state, they show much more than that: They offer a glimpse of the transportation infrastructure (steam and electric railroads, trails, ferry landings), landscape features that may not be visible today (salt marshes, swamps, tidal flats, escarpments, rock outcrops), and geology (stony and gravelly areas, quarries).
Read more


Van Santen coloring  Master colourist" Dirk Jansz van Santen.

In the seventeenth century, the Netherlands held a prominent position in Europe in the production of books, maps and prints.
Not only were the number, diversity and quality of printed works renown, but also the "versiering" - the application of decorative graphic elements in the colouring of maps, prints, title pages, opening and closing vignettes, etc. Little is known about the many print and map colourists, the 'const- en caertafzetters', who lived in the Netherlands at the time. Since their work was usually not signed, they have remained anonymous'. The most important exception to this rule is Dirk Jansz van Santen.
Read more

old map of Japan

The mapping of Japan.

The Japanese cherish a great love for maps. Of old they adorned all kinds of objects with cartographic images of the world, of Japan, of their town or province. Before the Japanese came into direct contact with Europeans, they made maps that represented the Buddhist world. In that world there were only three great cultures, i.e. India, China, and Japan.
After the arrival of the Europeans, the Japanese realized that a much larger world existed outside of India, China, and Japan. The world maps created by the Flemish and Dutch cartographers like Abraham Ortelius, Gerard Mercator, Petrus Plancius, Willem Blaeu that the Dutch brought with them revealed what the unknown world looked like.
Read more

storage box

Tips for prospective map collectors.

This page offers information on the different aspects of Map collection.
Types of Collections - Factors Affecting Map value - How Condition Affects Value - Map Colouring - How to Detect Reproductions - Storage - Reference Materials - Storage - Custom Framing.
Read more

optica print Optical prints.

Little has been published (particularly in English) on the type of print known as the 'perspective view', intended for use in an optical diagonal machine. Nevertheless, these prints were highly popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and still appear regularly on the art market. lt therefore, seems worth collecting what information is known and adding what I have been able to discover.
Read more

Speculative bubbles - The First financial cricis.

Speculation in shares was known as the 'Bubble', and the trade was known as "Wind-Handel" and "Wind-Negotie," (both meaning Wind-Trade), because the trader often didn't own the shares and also tried to talk up the price. Dutch companies formed in the Bubble, tended to be local affairs, associated with the cities where they were founded. Stock offerings were often public in name only, with local officials and other insiders buying up most or all of the stock.
It couldn't last, of course. There was no real regulation, and instead there was some government connivance.
Read more

Dutch East India Company V.O.C.

Trading compagnies

V.O.C.  Dutch East India Company.

It was to be toward the end of the 17th century, or even the beginning of the 18th century, before all the West European maritime powers were represented by companies on the new trade routes to the Far East, to which the then all-embracing term 'East Indies' was applied. The East Indies comprised all the new discovered regions east of the Cape of Good Hope, which included: East Africa and the islands along its coast, the basin of the Red Sea, India west and east, the Malay Archipelago, China and Japan. The increase in the number of contestants in the new mercantile traffic between Europe and Asia made for a new equilibrium and redistributed the world into new spheres of influence.
Read more

Islamic Cartography.

In the year 1138, the royal palace at Palermo, Sicily, was the scene of a long-awaited meeting between an unusual Christian king and a distinguished Muslim scholar. As his visitor entered the hall, the king rose, took his hand and led him across the carpeted marble to a place of honor beside the throne.
Almost at once the two men began to discuss the project for which the scholar had been asked to come from North Africa: the creation of the first accurate and scientific map of the entire known world.
Read more

The history of Beads and Trade.

Europeans, realized early on that beads were important to Native Americans. The Dutch West India Company (W.I.C.) used the beads for trading with natives in America and Africa. Corporations such as the Hudson Bay Company, and individuals such as Stephen A. Frost developed lucrative bead-trading markets with the Indians. Contemporary prints exist of Indians wearing these beads. Also the East India Company (V.O.C.) must have used them for trade as Dutch Trade beads are also found also in Polynesia.
Read more


Medieval Manuscript

About Medieval Manuscripts.

The medieval Book of Hours evolved out of the monastic cycle of prayer which divided the day into eight segments, or "hours": Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Compline, and Vespers. By the early fifteenth century, the format of the Book of Hours had developed to satisfy the demands of private, as opposed to communal, devotion. These portable books are smaller in format than their monastic forebears, designed for use by individuals, with a liturgical system somewhat less complicated than monastic liturgy and more "user-friendly."

An illuminated manuscript is a book written and decorated by hand. Its name is derived from the Latin manus meaning hand and "scriptus" meaning writing. Manuscripts which were decorated with gold, silver or bright paint are called illuminated, from the Latin "illuminare" meaning to lighten or brighten up.
Read more


ZUDA ROKASHI (Priest Hotan) - Nansenbushu bankoku shoka no zu.[Outline Map of All Countries of the Universe]

Published in Kyoto, 1710 (Hoei 7 = Year of the Tiger) by Bundaiken Uhei (fl. 1680 - 1720).
This map is a great example for Japanese world maps representing Buddhist cosmology with real world cartography. It is the earliest one and - therefore - the prototype for Buddhist world maps. The map centred on 'Jambu-Dvipa', the mythological heart of Buddhist cosmography where Buddha was born in Northern India with the sacred lake of Anavatapta, and the four sacred rivers Ganges, Oxus, Indus, and Tarim flowing from it, the map extending from Ceylon to Siberia, and from Japan to the British Isles 'Country of the Western Woman', with Europe as a group of islands, Africa figured as a small island, and a land bridge connecting China with an unnamed continent to the East [America].
Read more

BLAEU, Willem Janszoon (1571-1638). Pascaarte van alle de Zécuften van EUROPA.
Amsterdam, 1621 or later, [but before 1650] Blaeu's chart greatly influenced other Amsterdam publisher's. A striking feature of the relatively small number of paintings that comprise the ouevre of Johannes Vermeer is the prominent place accorded to maps and globes. The use of maps as wall hangings in contemporary Dutch houses went beyond the desire for cartographic information. Maps were also used to express status, to promote a better understanding of history or politics or to take the place of paintings. Interestingly, Johannes Vermeer used this chart in his painting The geographer (1669) Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany.
Read more
Honoré Daumier.
Honoré Daumier was born 26th February 1808 in Marseille, and died 10th February 1879 in Valmondois. His most active years: 1830-1879 were known as the "Michelango of Caricature", Honoré Daumier was a prolific painter, printmaker, sculptor, and caricaturist. He produced over 4,000 lithographs in his lifetime, which were known for their satires of political figures and the behavior of the bourgeois in society.
As a boy, he showed an inclination towards art, which his father tried to discourage, and so he put him to work as an usher. But, Daumier’s talents could not be dissuaded, and he later worked at a booksellers, eventually landing in the employ of Alexandre Lenoir, an artist and archaeologist, and becoming his protégé.
It was here that he began making his first attempts at lithography, and began a career producing plates for music producers and advertisement illustrations.
Read more


Nüremberg Chronicle.

The Liber Chronicarum or the 'Nuremberg Chronicle', as it is also known, is a history of the world from creation to 1493. The Liber Chronicarum was commissioned by two wealthy Nuremberg merchants, and brothers-in-law; Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermaister. They contracted Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (c.1460-1494) to make the woodcuts for the book and to draw up layouts showing the setting of the type and the placement of the woodcuts. The text was supplied by Hartman Schedel (1440-1514), a physician and humanist scholar.
Perhaps the most important features of the Liber Chronicarum are its design and illustrations.
Read more



Go to Top