Prepared by the Swedish scholar Olaus Magnus over the course of twelve years, the Carta Marina was published in Venice in 1539. This woodcut map on nine sheets was one of the most celebrated and influential representations of the north produced during the Renaissance period. The detail of Finland shown here exemplifies the map's fantastic artistry: reindeer sleighs transport passengers across the ice-bound Gulf of Bothnia, boat-builders ply their trade in the northern region of Lappia, and a battle rages across the ice at the head of the Gulf of Finland. Indeed, the pictorial vignettes are so abundant that the map is accompanied by an alphabetical key that explains the various scenes appearing in each of the nine sheets.
This magnificent map will be discussed in Volume Three of the History
of Cartography series by William R. Mead in his chapter on Scandinavian
Some thirty essays have been commissioned for the volume from leading
art historians, historians of science, social and political historians,
and literary critics. These interpretive essays are meant to be thought-provoking
rather than exhaustive. They will provide a new service to our readers:
a way to consider the authority of maps as central to how Renaissance Europeans
both saw and imagined the world as an object and subject of representation.
In addition, they will illuminate several levels on which the object of
the map can be studied and understood as a form of historical evidence.
The section should raise important issues in the history of cartography
that will both set a future agenda for research on Renaissance maps and
take stock of the growing role of cartography as a way to organize social,
political, and cultural space.
Once the books and articles reach the History of Cartography Project
offices, full bibliographic information is noted and titles of cited works
are checked against those in the chapter. To ensure consistency throughout
the History, the names of authors and editors in cited works are
made to match the standard entries used in the Online Computer Library
Center (OCLC). After this bibliographical work is completed, we check all
references including page numbers, paying particular attention to quotations
and verifying that they appear in the places cited and that they follow
the precise spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of the original.
Next, we check all historical individuals discussed in the chapter and
compile standard spelling and date information, consulting a variety of
reference sources. Finally, we modify all parts of the chapter to conform
to Press style following the Chicago Manual of Style, and a fresh
copy of the updated manuscript is sent to its author for review and approval.
The result is a chapter that reflects the high standards of the History
NSF is sponsoring a three-year research
initiative under which Volume Six (Cartography in the Twentieth
Century) co-editors David Woodward and Mark Monmonier will be recruiting
and mentoring eleven scholars. These scholars will research and write articles
that will form the basis of much larger and more fully developed chapters
in Volume Six. Our immediate goal is to produce a special issue of a scholarly
journal devoted to the history of twentieth-century cartography that will
encourage feedback and further interest in this period. (We are fully aware
that a comprehensive history such as we have planned for Volume Six is
not possible without a body of secondary literature.) Both NSF's Geography
and Regional Science Program and its Science and Technology Program are
providing funds for this project.
The bibliography will be useful to the editors as well as to scholars
recruited to work on the volume. Next year, Mark hopes to extend the bibliography
through 1980. Because the cartographic literature became markedly richer
and more diverse during the final quarter of the century, extension of
the bibliography beyond 1980 as well as further development and verification
for earlier decades will depend heavily on subject-specific searches by
scholars working on various aspects of Volume Six.
Samir Murty is a recent graduate of the economics and history programs at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His senior honors thesis examined variations in the 1482 and 1486 editions of the Ulm Ptolemy atlases and was supervised by David Woodward. Sam's research, funded in part by a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant, has uncovered some interesting aspects of these significant Renaissance atlases, and his findings will be incorporated into David Woodward's chapter on map printing methods in our forthcoming volume on Renaissance cartography. Sam recently spoke with us about his thesis research.
How did this project come about and what was involved?
I examined the 1482 and 1486 atlases for their variations in color, print block impressions, and written introductions. In terms of color, I found that there was a good deal more variation within and between the print runs than scholars have previously suggested. The chief cause of these variations seems to be that many of the 1482 atlases were not colored by the publisher but were colored after they were purchased by wealthy clients. Variations in print block impressions were also noted; in fact I have identified fourteen variations that have never been documented. Most variations can be found in the tabulae modernae (modern maps) section of the atlases, which suggests that these maps served a different purpose than the twenty-seven Ptolemaic maps located at the beginning of the atlases. Identifying these print block variations helps place the Ulm atlases in chronological order. Finally, variations can also be noted in the written introductions to the maps. On the verso of most maps are the parts of the eighth book of Ptolemy's Geography that correspond to the maps. Variations in these introductions have been noted by other scholars, but I have found instances where they are identical between atlases. This information also helps place the atlases in chronological order. I hope that my primary research findings will be helpful to others interested in the Ulm editions of Ptolemy’s atlas.What were your favorite and least favorite aspects of this project?
My favorite part of the whole process was getting the opportunity to meet and discuss my research with curators and librarians all over the United States. I found it very rewarding to share my findings about the Ulm editions with these interested and knowledgeable scholars. To all of these wonderful people who offered their kindness and generosity throughout the course of my research, I extend my sincerest thanks. Very little of this project was tedious or trying, but my least favorite aspect of the research was spending hours studying photographs of the maps in minute detail in order to identify print block variations. That was not a task that I relished, but the results, I feel, were worth the effort.
The History of Cartography Project also received mention in a Washington Post article, "North Is Up?" by William C. Burton, on Wednesday, 9 June 1999 (page H03).
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