Magazine article Geographical

Mapping the New World: Renaissance Maps from the American Museum in Britain

Magazine article Geographical

Mapping the New World: Renaissance Maps from the American Museum in Britain

Article excerpt

MAPPING THE NEW WORLD: Renaissance Maps from the American Museum in Britain

by Anne Armitage and Laura Beresford Scala, pb, 19.95 [pounds sterling]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In 1988, the American Museum in Britain located near Bath--received a bequest of more than 200 Renaissance maps of the New World from Dr Dallas Pratt, the museum's co-founder. The bequest constitutes one of the finest collections of pre-1600 printed maps in existence, and Mapping the New World showcases more than 50 of its treasures.

The book begins with an historical overview that relates how, after Columbus, many transatlantic voyages set off in the hope of finding a land of riches. Hartman Schedel's woodcut, World Map from the Nuremburg Chronicle (1493), produced just a few months after Columbus's return from the New World, bears no hint of that discovery; Jerusalem is at the centre of all things, for, as with medieval maps, it reflected theology rather than geography.

In contrast, Jan Huyghen van Linschoten's Map of all the coasts of the Southern part of America, produced 100 years later, is remarkably detailed, naming settlements, islands and river mouths all along the coast (but, not surprisingly, with less accurate information about the interior). …

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