Friday, November 17, 2006

The miniature maps of Robert Morden

A few Christmases ago I gave a friend an old map of Milwaukee as a gift.

I ordered it from this rare map website, and, as is the case with all websites that one orders from, I now get regular messages from this site, telling me about new maps that are available for purchase.

Today, it's the miniature maps of Robert Morden.

According to the email I received,

Robert Morden was among the first successful commercial map makers in England in the latter part of the 17th Century.
. . .
For American collectors, Morden is perhaps best known for several very rare early maps of the British Colonies in North America, which are now among the earliest and most sought after maps for collectors of Colonial American maps.

Among his most interesting works was a series of miniature maps of the World, which appeared in both playing card format and in a series of Atlases, including his Atlas Terrestris and Geography Antatomiz'd, beginning in 1687.

I'm intrigued by this idea of maps being reproduced on playing cards--a different kind of mass medium. And one that speaks to leisure, the leisure of gazing at the world, taking it in.

Here's Morden's map of the Great Lakes and the east coast (from 1687).

Milwaukee doesn't exist yet, but if it did, you would find it here on the west coast of something called Lake Illonowik.


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