Exploring the once uncharted

Two of my biggest academic fascinations has to be horology and cartography. As a technologist, without either of these technologies the world we live in would be a very different place.

To look back at somthing that is 200 years old, created by hand, that is a visual record of a place on our Earth with any level of accuracy all before we even knew what our world looked like from the sky: Is completely bonkers! And yet, we as creative humans found a way to create these maps so that other could retrace our steps, or see what we ‘discovered.’ In cartography (and horology for that matter), the ability to create somthing that was functional and beautiful for such a utilitarian tool is fascinating. Maps didn’t need to be artistically beautiful, yet, human kind through the ages found a way to do both create somthing beautiful as well as artisic; and the Rumsey Collection showcases it.

The David Rumsey Map Collection (Cartography Associates) is a collection of high resolution scans of maps and cartographic masterpieces that can be viewed from within the browser or download as PDF with as much resolution possible from the archive.

There is also a tool they call Georeferencer, allowing you to see some of these historical maps side by side to contemporary ones.

The Rumsey collection has started digitizing the collection in 1996, and now the collection contains well over 150,000 maps. From rare 16th maps around the world, to modern ones added regularly, this collection includes:

…atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript maps.

The David Rumsey Map Collection

Maps downloaded from the site contain a text file with the logging of the document that can be used to help citing within works.