The History of Cartography, the “Most Ambitious Overview of Map Making Ever,” Now Free Online

history of cartography2

Worth a quick men­tion: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press has made avail­able online — at no cost — the first three vol­umes of The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy. Or what Edward Roth­stein, of The New York Times, called “the most ambi­tious overview of map mak­ing ever under­tak­en.” He con­tin­ues:

Peo­ple come to know the world the way they come to map it—through their per­cep­tions of how its ele­ments are con­nect­ed and of how they should move among them. This is pre­cise­ly what the series is attempt­ing by sit­u­at­ing the map at the heart of cul­tur­al life and reveal­ing its rela­tion­ship to soci­ety, sci­ence, and reli­gion…. It is try­ing to define a new set of rela­tion­ships between maps and the phys­i­cal world that involve more than geo­met­ric cor­re­spon­dence. It is in essence a new map of human attempts to chart the world.

If you head over to this page, then look in the upper left, you will see links to three vol­umes (avail­able in a free PDF for­mat). My sug­ges­tion would be to look at the gallery of col­or illus­tra­tions for each book, links to which you’ll find below. The image above, appear­ing in Vol. 2, dates back to 1534. It was cre­at­ed by Oronce Fine, the first chair of math­e­mat­ics in the Col­lège Roy­al (aka the Col­lège de France), and it fea­tures the world mapped in the shape of a heart. Pret­ty great.

Vol­ume 1

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions

Vol­ume 2: Part 1

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 1–24)
Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 25–40)

Vol­ume 2: Part 2

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 1–16)
Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 17–40)

Vol­ume 2: Part 3

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 1–8)
Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 9 –24)

Vol­ume 3: Part 1

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 1–24)
Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 25–40)

Vol­ume 3: Part 2

Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 41–56)
Gallery of Col­or Illus­tra­tions (Plates 57–80)

Note: If you buy Vol 1. on Ama­zon, it will run you $248. As beau­ti­ful as the book prob­a­bly is, you’ll prob­a­bly appre­ci­ate this free dig­i­tal offer­ing. The series will be added to our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Won­der­ful Sci­en­tif­ic Map of the Moon from 1679: Can You Spot the Secret Moon Maid­en?

Galileo’s Moon Draw­ings, the First Real­is­tic Depic­tions of the Moon in His­to­ry (1609–1610)

New York Pub­lic Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Down­load and Use

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