Over 2,000 Pictorial Maps in Online Collection

Over 2,000 Pictorial maps and related images have been added to the David Rumsey Map Collection in the form of separate maps, pocket maps, case maps, atlases, manuscript maps, and wall maps. Pictorial maps are generally described as maps that employ various kinds of illustrations, images, and text that enhance the cartographic message. While they seem to have peaked in popularity in the 1920 to 1940 period, they have antecedents in the 19th and earlier centuries and the form continues today. ... Read full article

Featured Maps April 1, 2015 0 Comments


Mapping the Heavens in 1693

Ignace Gaston Pardies created a series of six beautiful star and constellation maps in the late 17th century. All six map plates join together to make a unified view of the Heavens as seen from the Earth. Pardies, a French Jesuit and professor of mathematics in Paris, corresponded with leading scientists of his day, including Newton, Leibniz and Huygens. His background in classical literature and science is evident in the complex artistry and mathematical precision of the six star maps. Pardi... Read full article

Featured Maps August 21, 2012 2 Comments


Atlas for The Blind 1837

The Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind was published in 1837 for children at the New England Institute for the Education of the Blind in Boston. Without a drop of ink in the book, the text and maps in this extraordinary atlas were embossed heavy paper with letters, lines, and symbols. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first atlas produced for the blind to read without the assistance of a sighted person. Braille was invented by 1825, but was not widely used unt... Read full article

Featured Maps May 21, 2012 4 Comments


Timeline Maps

  Mapping time has long been an interest of cartographers. Visualizing historical events in a timeline or chart or diagram is an effective way to show the rise and fall of empires and states, religious history, and important human and natural occurrences. We have over 100 examples in the Rumsey Map Collection, ranging in date from 1770 to 1967. We highlight a few below. Sebastian Adams' 1881 Synchronological Chart of Universal History is 23 feet long and shows 5,885 years of history, from 400... Read full article

Featured Maps March 29, 2012 14 Comments


San Francisco Aerial Photographs 1938

We have put online a set of 164 large format, sharp, black and white vertical aerial photographs of San Francisco taken in 1938 from an airplane by Harrison Ryker, a pioneer in aerial photography. The photographs overlap each other and cover the entire city. The resolution is generally better than one foot or even higher with high contrast features allowing visibility of even the paint striping on a basketball court.  Relative heights are frequently discernible based on the shadows cast of ob... Read full article

Featured Maps October 24, 2011 8 Comments


First Atlas of Russia, Published in 1745

The first Atlas of Russia from 1745 has been added to the online collection. It was published by the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia, expanding on the cartographic work done previously by Russian cartographer Ivan K. Kirilov. Joseph Nicolas de L'Isle, the great French astronomer, was invited by the Academy of Sciences in 1726 to come to St. Petersburg to oversee the production of the atlas, although his role and contributions to the atlas are disputed by historians. The atlas ma... Read full article

Featured Maps July 12, 2011 3 Comments


Pre-Earthquake San Francisco 1905 Sanborn Insurance Atlas

A rare 6 volume 1905 San Francisco Sanborn Insurance Atlas showing the city as it was just months before the great earthquake and fire of 1906 has been added to the map site in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library which owns the atlas and keeps it in its San Francisco History Center at the main library branch. The atlas was published in 1899/1900 and was updated manually several times by the publisher, the Sanborn-Perris Map Company of New York, with the last updates done in th... Read full article

Featured Maps June 27, 2011 3 Comments


Karte des Deutschen Reiches 1893 (Map of the German Empire)

  The Karte des Deutschen Reiches 1893 consists of 674 sheets at a scale of 1:100,000. All sheets join together to make a huge, highly detailed and historically significant map of about 1,155 cm x 980 cm (38 ft x 32 ft), covering all of present day Germany and much of present day Poland. The maps show the landscape as it was at the end of the 19th century. We have completed the process of scanning all the sheets individually as well as making a very large digital composite image of all 674 sh... Read full article

Featured Maps April 10, 2011 6 Comments


Cartouches, or Decorative Map Titles

Cartouches are the elaborate decorations that frame map titles and other information about the map. They add an artistic or symbolic narrative to the maps they describe. According to map historian Edward Lynam, cartouches that frame titles first appear on Italian maps in the 16th century. They persist on maps until the middle of the 19th century, going through many stylistic changes. Below are selected cartouches from maps in our collection, beginning in 1703 and ending in 1852. The cartouche... Read full article

Featured Maps February 25, 2010 5 Comments


19th Century Maps by Children

In the 18th and 19th centuries, children were taught geography by making their own maps, usually copies of maps available to them in books and atlases at their schools or homes. Below is a group of maps and geographical diagrams made by children in the 19th century; and some of the school atlases, geographies, and wall maps that may have been their sources. These old maps made by children were hand drawn and colored, one-of-a-kind productions, and it is amazing that any have survived down to ... Read full article

Featured Maps January 7, 2010 8 Comments


Carte de France - The National Survey of France 1750 - 1815

The Carte de  France was one of the first national surveys completed on the same scale, 100 toises (a toise was equal to 6ft and the equivalent scale today would be 1:86,400), according to a specific plan.  It was led by several generations of the Cassini family (not to be confused with the Italian globemaker Giovanni M. Cassini) starting in the 1740's and continuing through the French revolution and  Napoleon's time, to 1815.  Four generations of the Cassini family held the position of direc... Read full article

Featured Maps October 11, 2009 4 Comments


Julius Bien, Master Printer and Cartographer

Julius Bien (1826-1909) was an American lithographic printer and cartographer who worked in New York City in the second half of the 19th century.  He was responsible for the publication of thousands of maps issued by the U.S. government and private map publishers. He was a pioneer in the development of chromolithography. He is recognized as one of the finest map printers of his time.  The Rumsey collection contains over 1,100 maps published by Bien.  Although authorship of 19th century maps a... Read full article

Featured Maps September 13, 2009 0 Comments


Cassini Terrestrial and Celestial Globes 1790 - 1792

  Giovanni Maria Cassini was a noted geographer, engraver, and publisher in Rome. He was one of the last of the fine Italian globe makers active at the end of the 18th century. Cassini made Terrestrial and Celestial Globes in 1790 and 1792.  He also published the twelve terrestrial and twelve celestial globe gores that formed these globes in his atlas "Nuovo Atlante Geografico Universale" along with rules for the construction of globes and globe gores.  The full title of the Terrestrial Globe... Read full article

Featured Maps September 7, 2009 13 Comments


Heights of Mountains, Lengths of Rivers

For over 100 years, atlas and map publishers in the United States and Europe published a style of map that was a visualization of the heights and lengths of the world's mountains and rivers.  Some of the earliest examples appeared in Europe towards the end of the 18th century.  In the United States, the form was popular throughout the 19th century and the early part of the 20th.  These maps appeared in atlases, as wall maps, and as pocket maps.  One of the most elegant examples was engraved o... Read full article

Featured Maps September 5, 2009 8 Comments