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This map is an early one to show the west coast of Africa in such detail. The Atlantic Slave Trade had been increasing for the past 150 years and was going to continue to increase for another 200. Portuguese influence can be seen by “Rio Portugues” dividing Mauritania (Genehoa) from Senegal. Goree Island, an early site of European activity, is noted. The cartouche shows light skinned people displaying products of bounty including fruit and animal skins.
Map geeks will appreciate that north is depicted to the left in this map, and the line of Meridian (0˚ longitude) goes through Cape Verde.
This map was produced in the early days of atlases when component maps were made individually and then either sold separately or collected into atlases produced over decades for various purposes. This particular map is dedicated in the most flattering terms to Dutch nobleman Adrian Pauw.
The Janssonius family were well known and prolific Dutch mapmakers. Earlier in his career, Johannes traded on his affiliations with better known mapmakers Hondius and Mercator. Here, however, his heirs are trading on his name by billing themselves as ‘Heredes Joannis Janssoniss.”
This map will be on display in the Map Library the week of May 20, 2013. It was purchased with funds provided by the Tamara Brunnschweiler Geography Library Endowment.
Nobilissimo, Amplißimoque Viro, Domino, Domino Hadriano Pauw Equiti, Domino in Bennebroeck, &c. in Senatu, Hollandiae, Zelandiae, ac Frisiae, nec non in Curia Feudali Hollandiae, et West-Frisiae Consiliario
Tooley's Dictionary of Mapmakers, Revised edition, Vol. 2. By Ronald V. Tooley, Josephine French, Valerie Scott, and Mary Alice Lowenthal. Published in Tring, England by Map Collector Publications in association with Richard Arkway in 1999.
Atlantes Neerlandici, Volume 2: Blussé – Mercator. Compiled by Cornelis Koeman. Published in Amsterdam by Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd in 1969.
The Panama Canal is a good example of a project that seems like it will be much easier than it is. Anyone looking at a map of Central America can’t help but notice how skinny that isthmus is, and how nicely it would cut down travel if only we could cut a canal through there.
For 12 years the World watched as the French fiddled around trying to build a canal. Everyone expected success, of course, because the French had managed to build the Suez Canal which connected the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean (inadvertently launching piracy careers for some Somalians).
But the reality was annual torrential flash flooding, thousands of workers dead of malaria and yellow fever, and millions of dollars over budget. In 1893 the French reluctantly gave up and looked for deep-pocketed suckers, ah I mean an enterprising young nation interested in a fantastic geopolitical opportunity.
This map was made shortly after the United States signed a treaty with the very new nation of Panama to take over the enterprise. A prior owner of the map marked in places where actual construction varied from the printed plan.
This map will be on display in the MSU Map Library the week of May 13, 2013. It was a generous gift of Ron Dietz.
Detail from map showing XX where planned locks were not built.
Certainly by 1936 practically everyone understood that the Earth is a sphere (or, more accurately, a slightly irregular geoid). Two U.S. Army Air Corp Captains were able to provide Earthlings with definitive proof by venturing 72,395 feet above the Earth to take this photograph. The black horizontal line, when compared to the Earth’s horizon, shows the curvature.
This aerial photomap also revealed the novelty of a black sky (due to only 4% of the Earth’s atmosphere being above their balloon, the Explorer II).
Also on display we have a booklet forwarding the idea of a Flat Earth. Since ardent Flat Earth proponents are mostly uninterested in science-based evidence, the photograph hardly rained on their parade at all.
These items will be on display in the MSU Map Library the week of May 6, 2013. The map was a generous gift of Ron Dietz. The booklet was purchased from funds provided through the Brunnschweiler Geography Library Endowment Fund.
Detail from aerial photo map
This map shows the extent of European knowledge of African geography in 1841. Names of regions and places are almost entirely along the coasts, leaving the interior blank. One exception is some fairly good understanding of the oases and settlements across the Sahara. This map lacks busy details to fill unknown areas. Map-makers were by now content to leave areas of insufficient or conflicting reports unapologetically blank.
Lake Victoria has not yet been discovered by Europeans; the White Nile is shown originating in some vague mountains mid-continent. The enormous Congo River Basin also has yet to be discovered.
The mid-19th century was an interesting pivot point in Africa’s history. The Atlantic slave trade was slowing drastically, bringing great change to the economies of slave-trading areas. Small colonies of released or rescued abductees had been made by the United States (Liberia) and the British (Sierra Leone). Large scale European presence in the continent had not yet begun.
This map will be on display in the Map Library the week of April 29, 2013. It was a generous gift of Ron Dietz.
Detail from map
Africa 1500-1900. By Constance Jones. Published in New York by Facts on File in 1993.
A History of Africa 1840-1914, Volume One 1840-1880. By Michael Tidy and Donald Leeming. Published in London by Hodder and Stoughton in 1980.
Norwich’s Maps of Africa, Second edition. By Oscar Norwich and revised by Jeffrey C. Stone. Published in Norwich, Vermont by Terra Nova Press in 1997.
The end of the 18th century saw tremendous interest among scientists in the precise measurement of land, the earth, and the stars. France and Britain fell into a refreshingly un-warlike competition over building a shared network of places measured with pinpoint accuracy (or at least as well as their instruments would allow). From this network, trigonometry could be employed to calculate an accurate framework of the land and sea between Paris and London.
The Royal Society of London commissioned from instrument maker Jesse Ramsden the most precise and accurate theodolite yet made. It took him 3 years to make it, much to the annoyance of the scientists wishing to get on with their work. A surveying team, lead by Major-General William Roy, heaved and hauled this 3-foot, 200 pound monster up and down the prominences of England to create the British network of control points.
This attention to detail, seen in similar projects around the world, provided mapmakers with vital information needed for accurate maps.
These items will be on display in the Map Library the week of April 22, 2013. They were generous gifts of Ron Dietz.
Detail from map showing the English Channel and the network of carefully measured control points
Detail from image
Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy. By Linklater, Andro. New York: Walker & Co, 2002.
Weighing the World: The Quest to Measure the Earth. By Edwin Danson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
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