Cartographers are people who study and make maps. Maps have been around for thousands of years. In fact the first maps were made to look at the constellation of the stars.
Ancient maps are interesting because they show how the world was perceived at that time. One of the first World maps was produced by a Greek called Hecataeus of Miletus, he wasn’t the first map maker, as this is said to be fellow countryman Anaximander, some 50 years earlier.
The map drawn up by Hecataeus showed a round earth, surrounded by sea. There was no scale. Distances were measured by the amount of time it took to march or sail. Another Greek called Claudius Ptolemy came up with the system of coordinates and latitudes, which are still used in today’s maps.
However, other academics believed that the world was an entirely different shape and that there was a definite end to the earth, where strange and barbaric people roamed.
After the Greeks, maps were produced by the Romans, the Chinese, the Indians and the Muslims. A better understanding of the world’s shape and size was evolving and map making became more sophisticated. People travelled further afield and new places were discovered.
When Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, his fellow traveller, a cartographer by the name of Juan de la Cosa drew up the first map of the newly discovered continent.
By the 16th century maps of London and the surrounding areas began to be drawn up.It is fascinating to see maps of the area before and after the Great Fire of London. During the Victorian period Charles Booth drew up his famous map of London Boroughs which showed how the different areas were divided according to wealth and poverty.
A renewed interest in vintage maps has come about owing to the popularity of Genealogy. Anyone who traces their family tree can look for maps and charts of the areas where their ancestors lived down through the centuries. Some areas haven’t changed much at all, whilst others, like Manchester, Glasgow and Durham have changed significantly since the demise of the cotton, shipbuilding and coal industries.
Vintage maps are slightly more modern than antique maps. In 1935 Phyllis Pearsall designed the London A to Z maps, which are still printed today. Comparing thirties London to the London of today, shows how much a city can change in under a hundred years. Vintage maps are just as interesting as antique maps.
Wherever you come from, or whatever region you like to study, old maps are fascinating glimpses into the past. Maritime maps, Street maps, Road maps or, Country Maps. Several fine examples of the cartographers work can be found at the Scottish Antique and Arts Centre in Abernyte.