It’s all about perspective

The question of how to show relief on maps has taxed cartographers since the days of Ptolemy. A string of mountains over a landscape, deep shadows, contours, hachures? All have been used to varying degrees of success in the past. Tourist maps and town plans have often used different perspectives in the same image to […]

The classical world

The subject of teaching Latin in schools has been in the news lately.  Go back a few hundred years, and learning about ancient languages and civilisations was a fundamental part of education. Fascination with classical learning, and the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, could be expressed in maps as well as other forms. This atlas containing […]

Dog-eared

We all have maps like this. Dog-eared, well used, creased, pushed into pockets or bashed about in a rucksack. For whatever reason they show signs of wear and tear, which is an inevitable outcome considering the purpose of Ordnance Survey Landrangers and Explorers in the first place. Every crease or mark is a souvenir of […]

Sail away to Christmasland

Everyone has heard of Christmas Island, but have you heard of Christmasland? The (fictional) island appears on this cartographic Christmas card from the 1930s. Christmasland: Captain Jolliman’s voyage of discovery in ye “Friendship” (see what they did there?) shows a route from Humdrum Drearyland, with its Workaday Coast, to Christmasland. The island has many seasonal placenames […]

Reflections on the Alps

December 11th is United Nations International Mountain Day, so we’re celebrating with this unusual Alpine panorama.  This map of an Alpine road appears at first glance to be a view of mountains reflected in water.  Closer examination shows that a road runs along the centre of the map; it is printed on a long strip, folded […]

Measuring distances, a wheel or a chain?

John Ogilby has to be one of the most interesting of all the cartographers. Before turning to making maps aged 66 he had at various times been a dancer and dance instructor, theatre manager and publisher, with career changes usually the result of misfortune of some kind. His dance career ended after suffering serious injury […]

To the readers hello

This remarkable early example of a town plan shows the French port of La Rochelle under siege in 1573. During the French Wars of Religion La Rochelle had become a centre of Huguenot support, and was besieged by troops loyal to the Catholic Duke of Anjou. The siege was lifted in the year the map […]

Unsung heroes

Engravers can be the unsung heroes or heroines of the map world. Until the nineteenth century, virtually all printed maps were produced by engraving the map on a sheet of copper – or later on, steel – as a mirror image of how the finished map would look. The plate was then inked and the […]

A revolutionary new year

Two intriguing maps of the Channel, both with something special about them. The first uses hachures (lines on a map to indicated hill slopes) around the coasts which has effect of making the land stand out. The effect is lovely even if not representative of the actual height of land. The map, titled ‘3d [as […]