A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3.6 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 3,000+ total posts
Frederick Erastus Pierce (1878-1935) is the creator of the extraordinary The Tenement-House Committee Maps: printed on one sheet of paper for Harper's Weekly in 1895, Pierce presents his data on the distribution of the population of Manhattan with two maps, one showing the densities of Manhattan populations (on top) and the other the distribution of nationalities (at bottom).
[I should point out that the original of this map is for sale at our blog bookstore, here.]
Here's an overall view of the maps--this example from the Library of Congress, as I could not make an accurate image of the one I have here--I do include some details of the maps from my own copy, however, which are found just above, with several below.
Advertisers for Henry M. Stanley's Through the Dark Continent could not paint Africa any darker than they did in this ad which appeared in the journal Nature on May 3, 1878. Stanley plowed his way through Africa from 1874 to 1877, and was quickly into print on his return, which may have been more armed Imperial Pushing than it was a geographical expedition.
Stanley published another book, In Darkest Africa. twelve years later in 1890, no doubt alluding to the unimaginably dark places of a dark place.
And just for the sport of it I had a quick tour around the massive 75,000,000-item database of library holdings in WorldCat and found that there may be only one other book earlier than Stanley's published with dark/darkest Africa/Continent in the title (Christian Liberia, the Hope of the Dark Continent, with Special Reference to the Work and Mission of Edward S. Morris, 1838). After Stanley's book was published there are easily dozens of other books using that phrase published between 1878-1900. So there's that. In my long career of looking at maps I cannot recall the continent appearing on world maps as simply an entirely blacked out/filled-in geographical region--certainly in earlier maps of Africa (or at least before 1900) the unknown spots were simply left blank; the older the map the more likely it was to be that the blank spots were filled in with unusual representation of flora and fauna. But never, it seems to me, was it just entirely black.
The Battle of Supplies (1944)is an interesting propaganda publication, simultaneously celebrating achievements and promoting the new for greater production. The method of displaying the relatively simple data is pretty striking.
This beautiful network of lines tells the early story of weather in cartographic form. They appear on Karte der Isothermen, Isoklinen, Isogonen und Isodynamen mit der Magnetischen Meridianen, and was published in the atlas volume1 to accompany the best-selling encyclopedic presentation of the natural history knowledge of the world to that time, Baron Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos, which was published over a period of several from 1845-1862. The map demonstrates and visualizes climatic information showing isothermes, isoclines, isogones and isodynamics, with the magnetic meridian.
[This is a detail of the Northern Hemisphere section of the double-hemisphere map, which is reproduced below.]
At bottom there is also a beautiful 32-point wind rose:
And this, the full version of the map:
And the detail of the Southern Hemisphere:
1. The atlas was by T. Bromme, Atlas zu Alex. V. Humboldt's Kosmos in zweiundvierzig Tafeln mit erlauterndem Texte. Herausgegeben von Traugott Bromme. Stuttgart. Verlag von Krais & Hoffman. (with second title page) Atlas zur Physik der Welt in ... Bromme, 1851.
This small detail (measuring about 1/3" square) is from a fine, detailed, and oddly beautiful map (itself only about 12x9") which was published in the atlas volume1 to accompany the best-selling encyclopedic presentation of the natural history knowledge of the world to that time, Baron Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos, which was published over a period of several from 1845-1862.
The map is titled Die Ozeanischen Entdeckungen und die um die Kunde des erdballs verdienten Forscher und Reisenden vom Jahre 840-1850, and depictsvoyages of discovery for a milennium, 850-1850. It is a terrifically-detailed map, even among highly-detailed maps. (This detail is taken froma 1x2" section seen here:)
And the full map:
1. The atlas was by T. Bromme, Atlas zu Alex. V. Humboldt's Kosmos in zweiundvierzig Tafeln mit erlauterndem Texte. Herausgegeben von Traugott Bromme. Stuttgart. Verlag von Krais & Hoffman. (with second title page) Atlas zur Physik der Welt in ... Bromme, 1851.
The 1850's may have been the heyday of atlases appearing with illustrations of comparative river lengths/mountain heights; from 1840-1880 or so was the period in which the majority of descriptive comparatives were published. This is when you would see images of the lengths of rivers and the heights of mountains and waterfalls beautifully displayed in atlases, everything visually presented in high design and memory-forming fashion. I don’t know what happened after 1880, but the publication of this sort of data in beautiful and provocative formats really fell off, with the heights of mountains/lengths of rivers stuff relegated to filling the empty areas in the corners of double-hemisphere world maps.
The example below (from R. Montgomery Martin's Illustrated Atlas, 1851) is interesting because in addition to the standard mountain/river material, there is also the height of waterfalls; and, in a move that was probably very early as a practice, there are two sets of images that show lakes and island compared to one another on the same scale. Of course maps are composed of data that is necessarily set in the same scale, but here we see just the lakes and just the islands removed from their context and laid into a pool of similar objects. It is a mystery why this would've taken so long to happen, but it is also the case that the first comparative architecture depicting different buildings placed in an illustration that were on the same scale did not occur until the work of J.N.L. Durand in the surprising "late"year of 1800 (in his Recueil et parallèle des édifices de tout genre...), which is a curious thing.A Ver
[Image from Arnold Guyot, Physical Geography, Scrinber's, New York, 1873]
There are all sorts of clouds, everywhere: Red Cloud, mushroom clouds, clouds of confusion, Cloud Nine, dust, radioactive, rain, thunder, lightning, drifting, passing, growing, high, low, solitary, puffy, racing, threatening, and on and on, enough to fill many sets of alphabets even before you get to their real names.And that's just in English. In sheet music in the U.S. in the late 19th century songs celebrated clouds of all manifestations--people "waited for the clouds to roll by", and also listened to "The Clouds Will Never Roll Away", and how time, temperance, and love will move the clouds, and how many other things would be covered by them. Of course nowadays people think of clouds not only as physical atmospheric mountains but also as places to store data.
Clouds though pretty much escaped the notice of even the greatest of all great classifiers, Aristotle, and just about everyone else, for two dozen centuries, no real scientific approach to them until Luke Howard first published on his cloud classifications in his paper "On the Modifications of Clouds and on the Principles of their Production Suspension and Destruction being the Substance of an Essay..." in 1803 (full text here), and his "modifications" (which at the time meant "classifications") were instantly and universally adopted. (It is interesting to note that in the first German appearance of the Howard papers in the Annalen der Physik in 1815 that there were no illustrations.)
Arnold Guyot (1807-1884) published his imaginative and rather unusual and complete global map on the appearance of clouds. It is pretty, and creative, and to my experience very unusual. He was a very accomplished and experienced, significant scientist (Guyot Hall, Princeton is named for him), though this map above is speculative and questioning in an area meagre data.
One thing is for sure--this pamphlet, which has no place of publication or date--was definitely a German war propaganda effort, printed in English, published in Germany, and I guess distributed wherever the English-language-winds and luck would take it. My copy come from a collection that I purchased from the Library of Congress, and it is luckily stamped August 6, 1940, for the date it was received by the library. So the summer (or earlier) of 1940 is the date: the Battle of Britain had begun in July, Dunkirk had been evacuated June 4, France surrendered a few weeks later, and the war was not going well for the U.K. Germany was still a year away from their disastrous attempt to conquer the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa, and at this time in 1940, the U.S.S.R. was its vital trading partner. Great Britain was waging a successful economic war/blockade against Germany, which was without any real finance and with no reserves to purchase foreign goods, so in spite of the successes of the invasions and Blitzkreig, the Brits were enjoying a certain level of success. And so this pamphlet appears, one of others, a small part of a hearts-and-minds campaign to try and apply pressure to Britain's allies to convince her to sue for peace.
The main thrust of the maps of the pamphlet was to show Germany surrounded by not-threatening allies, pillowed by neutrals and countries it had overtaken (with no attempt made to label Poland). The interior map (above) is a very faint attempt to show the comparative strength of Germany being surrounded by neutrals in 1939 as compared with being surrounded by enemy countries in 1914. The message of course was that Germany was strong in 1914-1918 in spite of the "threatening" neighbors, so with relatively benevolent neighbors in 1939 they would be even more effective as a war-making national machine. Perhaps this had some influence somewhere, maybe among the Vichy French. And some elements in the U.S.
In the history of cartography besides the construction of map-y maps there are maps that stray beyond the strict geographical diction of necessity, some of which edify the data and others which creatively explain or decorate it. There are unusual maps of hobo travel, the Garden of Eden, Hell, Heaven, moles, hair growth direction, slavery, suffering, invasion routes, time, prisons, aliens, population density, disease, education, paved roads, trolley, electric lights, sewers, fire damage, and on and on, some of which are created in a way to make the map more identifiable and to also make it, well, fun, or at least more accessible. Then there are maps whose explication or decoration or alliteration have little to do with the geographical reasons for the map existing in the first place. And this leads us to today's post.
I think it certainly possible to assemble a bestiary of maps--maps that take the qualities of an animal, or animals...I've seen a number of maps that show distributions of animals without taking their forms, and a lesser number representing a geographical area by an animal, but I do think it is possible to wrangle together not only the bestiary but also nearly an entire alphabet of animal maps. That will need a little work. For the start of it we have the following:
[Source: the Confederate Veteran, volume 11, 1903, page 184.] This needs little comment except to say that it is interesting and that it shows up in an interesting publication.
Next is a great and rare classic, I.W. Moore's 1833 map incorporating an eagle into the design of the early Republic, from the Library of Congress (here):
The full text of the book in which it appears here (At Archive.org) and the cumbersome text relating to the map (on pp 244-249) is included below in the notes section.
There are also the advertisement/comical efforts like the Porcineographic map of the U.S. of 1876:
And the Russian octopus map, John Bull and His Friends. A Serio-Comic Map of Europe By Fred W. Rose…printed in 1900, and found at the Yale University Library Digital Collections, here:
[With thanks to Mark Dylan Sieber's Les Curiosites de Cartes, whose Twitter feed started this interest.]
There are also more maps in a "series" similiar to the Leo Belgicus:
Well, this is a start, anyway, covering Elephant, Lion, Octopus, Eagle, Pig, Horse.. It may be a long haul...
THE EAGLE MAP.
On presenting to the public a map upon the con-
struction here imperfectly exhibited, if an apology
be not necessary, perhaps at least, some notice of the
origin of the idea, and some of the reflections of the
author upon it, may not be misplaced.
The first sudden impress of the form of the figure
upon his attention, was under a combination of pe-
culiar circumstances. A map of the United States
happened to hang upon the wall of his apartment,
upon which a dim lamp light was reflected. The ef-
fect of the light, in the particular position in which it
was accidentally placed, seemed, as reflected from the
various colourings of the map, to cast a shade over
the state of Maine, and to mark a kind of separation
between it and the adjoining territory. The close
connexion of this state, as, always, under a common
view, necessarily combined with the great general
ground plan of the Union, he conceives to be the
principal reason why the notion of the figure has not
before been apprehended.
On its first presentation, he was disposed to discard
the idea, as merely a sportive play of the imaginar
tion, unworthy of notice. The figure, however, once
impressed, could not be eflaced from the imagination;
but was ever afterward in view when his eye happen-
ed to glance on a map, till he was at length induced
to give the subject a share of consideration, regarding
its possible usefulness and moral bearing.
Arguments which presented in favor of construct-
ing a map embracing the plan of the figure, appeared
conclusive with relation to the youth engaged in the
THE EAGLE MAP. 245
study of the geography of our country. Those argu-
ments were founded upon an apprehension of the in-
creased facility with which lessons may be impressed
and retained upon the youthful memory, when the
aid of figure, adapted with a tolerable degree of accu-
racy to the subject of study, can be resorted to. To
this opinion it is presumed teachers in general will
readily yield their accord, without further remark
upon the questions of Why? or Wherefore?
When extending his reflections further, the recollec-
tion was of course present, that the figure of the eagle
was the figure adopted by our national councils, as our
national badge. In this point of view, the coincidence
appeared as a circumstance peculiarly striking. A fur-
ther singular and surprising coincidence presented it-
self, in the circumstance that the bird is placed in a
position perfectly correct, with respect to a corres-
pondence with the lines of latitude and longitude; no
variation from the common principles of constructing
maps being required, to place it in a natural position.
As the subject has occasionally occupied a further
extension of thought, a variety of serious moral reflec-
tions have occurred to the mind of the author, in
which he is not disposed to anticipate his intelligent
readers, who are altogether capable of reflecting for
themselves. He will, therefore, under this head, con-
tent himself with offering a supposition of a single
example, illustrative of the manner in which visible
objects, as they stand associated in the mind with
ideas of order or deformity, may possibly be more or
less productive of moral effects.
If, from a selfish, or misguided policy, the citizens
of any one state, should propose to separate their in-
terests from the interests of the Uiiion, and claim a
right to withdraw from the general connexion, the
ugly chasm which would be produced by carrying
their design into effect, would be aptly represented
by supposing a line of separation drawn round the
seceding state, and admitting its whole internal de-
clinations, and even its very name, to be blotted out
246 THE EAGLE MAP.
from the eagle map of the United States, — the signs
and notices, of all the delightful alternations of river,
mountain, hill, and plain — of cities, the seats of com-
merce and refinement — of villages, the abodes of in-
dustry and social enjoyment — of the rural residences
of friends whom we love — all shrouded, in a shade
of gloomy, impenetrable darkness — and then observ-
ing the distortion which would be thus effected, in the
beautiful figure before us. Thus, might not a moral
repugnance be strengthened, against the open or in-
sidious attempts, of artful, designing men, who might,
for some ignoble or selfish end, be disposed, by de-
ceiving their fellow citizens, to attempt a disorganiza-
tion of the republic?
In the common representations of the eagle as the
American ensign, an allusion seems to be generally
intended to a martial spirit; and it is therefore repre-
sented with an aspect of fierceness, and in an attitude
prepared for war. Here, on the contrary, having
possession of the whole country, and no enemy to
contend with, it is designed to appear as the placid
representative of national liberty, and national inde-
pendence; with an aspect of beneficent mildness, and
in an attitude of peace.
It is therefore to be conceived of, as having be-
come wearied and disgusted, with the oppressions,
perpetual discords, and tyrannizing of power over
right, prevailing from age to age in the old world,
and as having, in consequence thereof, taken its flight
across the western ocean, in search of a resting place;
where its administration of equal rights might be duly
appreciated and respected.
Having arrived at the shores of this western world,
and taken its aerial circuits with the continent under
review, it appears as though arresting its flight — its
wings raised with a graceful, natural, and easy curve,
as relinquishing their hold on the buoyant atmosphere
—and its feet extended, as in the act of gently settling
on the rocks of the Florida reef, to exercise a benign
THE EAGLE MAP. 247
presidence over a territory equal to the length and
l)readth of its own shadow.
Thus it appears as overshadowing the whole ex-
tent of the United States and territories, excepting the
state of Maine, and the home of the natives in the
distant regions of the west. The citizens of Maine,
it is presumed, will not be offended at the impossibi-
lity of comprehending their department in the Union,
within the regular form of the figure, when we assign
to it the appellation of the cap of liberty, attached to
the eagle's head.
The present small map, is supposed to be sufficient,
in its internal delineations, to serve the purposes of
illwstrating the subjects of the volume which it ac-
companies. It may also serve to impart a fair gene-
ral idea of the design of the figure. Yet it has not
the least pretension to showing a specimen of the
elegance, with which the combined circumstances of
coincidence of figure, and geographical utility, are
capable of being represented. By an enlargement of
the scale alone, the proportions of the figure would
be presented to the eye, with a general aspect greatly
It is contemplated to issue, simultaneously with
the present volume, proposals for publishing by sub-
scription^ an eagle map of the United States, upon a
large and liberal scale; to be executed by the ablest
artists in a superior style; and intended to furnish an
appropriate ornament, to decorate our halls of legis-
lation, judicature, literature, and science, with the
library of the retired gentleman, the office of the law-
yer, and the retreats of the farmer, manufacturer, and
merchant. It is conceived that the ornament would
be likely to be viewed with peculiar interest and gra-
tification, because of the circumstance of containing,
in correct proportion, a representation of our beloved
In the large map proposed, much of the common
minutia will be omitted in the engraving, in order to
show the figure with greater advantage and beauty.
All the most important items, will, however, be re-
tained, and the place of the smaller supplied by a
neatly printed and bound accompanying volume of
references; so arranged, as to render all the usual pur-
poses of a map of the United States complete. In
exchange for the omitted minutia, will be engraved,
the regions of our different mineral and vegetable pro-
ductions, with various other interesting and ornamen-
tal delineations, never heretofore presented in similar
This propagandistic political broadside and map had an influence in the thinking of voters in the 1884 presidential election--and in fact it was mostly wrong. That "wrongness" was perpetrated for the Democratic Party at the expense of the Republicans, and held influence for dozens of years in helping to form the idea that the Republicans gave away huge chunks of American land to railroad companies in corrupt deals.
The map: How the public domain has been squandered, map showing the 139,403,026 acres of the people's land - equal to 871,268 farms of 160 acres each, worth at $2 an acre, $278,806,052, given by Republican Congresses to railroad corporations , published by the Rand, McNally & Company, Chicago, 1884, is the culprit.
Well, some healthy percentage of those land deals were rigged/crooked--but not nearly all; and in fact there were huge sums of money raised by the government in granting enormous land offerings to the railroad companies, who were also monetarily encouraged to continue making their ways west. There were definitely multiple aspect in all of this.
When I had an open shop I almost always maintained an antique map/print part in the front,airy, high-ceiling space and had my hardcore science stock in the back. (People who were after that sort of book/info had tunnel vision, generally, so location hardly mattered, so long as the books were there, a trait and characteristic I highly admired.) Generally speaking this was not true with the map/print buyers, or at least the occasional purchaser, so they had "pretty" dedicated to their comfort.
Over the years I heard many thing from people trying to noodle out the reasons for old maps, and all of that was fine, and even the not-self-flattery comments flowed by like a lazy stream with a snapping turtle in it. The one comment I did not like and which I always corrected had to do with how "bad" a map of North America (or wherever) was when it was drawn in say 1783. Long story short, the maps were spectacular given the era and the technical capability and the amount of information on hand. (Also if people were told they needed to go out right now and make a map with standard 19th c mapmaking/surveying instruments, most had absolutely no idea how to procede.) There aren't all that many "bad" maps floating around, except for those determined to be misleading that have been issued by various intelligence and mapping agencies around the world.
That said, there are some badly designed maps, and when you have a map with a badly constructed premise for presentation that makes the thing difficult to use, you have created a "bad map".
I say this because I just bumped into one, and here's a detail of what I'm talking about:
Just because you pack data onto a map doesn't make it good, and this one is about as gritty as a half-cooked cornmeal pancake.
So, when you have the time and the capacity and the data and you produce a map that is unyelding and impenetrable in spite of all the good it has going for it (not the least of which is interest), then you have created a bad map.
"Map of the military operations during the war of 1861-1865 designed expressly to accompany The lost cause," a standard southern history of the war. George Woolworth Colton, 1827-1901, and published in New York by E. B. Treat & Co., ca. 1867.
It has seemed to me that an elevation map of the United States may be an interesting way of collecting and categorizing regional similarities and differences. For example, high desert folks probably have more affinity to one another than suggested by state maps--so to for Eastern states high elevation people in the Appalachian chain, similarities indicated more so by the number of feet above sea level than a state lines between North Carolina and Virginia (and so on). So far as I can tell no such map exists--but it came back to mind seeing this wonderful and innovative map of Manhattan building heights, brought to us by Bill Rankin of Radical Cartography.
I can feel the enormous hail coming down on me right now for this title--but by comparison, this 1981 map of ARPAnet must seem somewhat like the first three minutes of creation in the Big Bang saga, in its way. This was absolutely, positively a remarkable accomplishment for the time, but compared to what it would become--measured in any number of different ways--this map seems proto-historic. Compared to not being able to construct this map because there was no ARPAnet--well, that would have been a devastating thing.
The other thing about looking at the picture of the birth of something was that--unlike many other revolutionary creations--there were many people of high influence who saw the possibilities of the expansion of the thing. Even Graham Bell and Edison had a difficult time looking into the future of the telephone...
This map is an interesting early attempt to embed complex statistical information into map form. It shows us the countries of origin of new immigrants to each state and the occupations of the adult male immigrants (with women and children being statistically both invisible and weighty, as they were classified simply as "no occupation"). New York state saw a huge influx of immigrants--the leading numbers in the country--with more than 150,000 on average every year from 1892-1903, Most of the South received little interest from immigrants, with Mississippi and North Carolina receiving in the double digits of immigrants, Virginia and Alabama getting in the mid three-figures, and Georgia and Tennessee settling in on average in the single digits. Florida, on the other hand, is a very different case, receiving in the mid four-figures and also leading the country in the percentage of skilled immigrants (with 42%). It is interesting to note that Alaska from 1894-1896 received no (legal) immigrants, then having 1 in 1897.
In any event it is a fascinating chart to have a browse with.
[A full, zoomable version can be found at Michigan State University library, here.]
"Race and Occupation of immigrants by destination. Also the yearly increase and decrease of each state’s proportion and the number." Citation: Race and Occupation of immigrants by destination. Also the yearly increase and decrease of each state’s proportion and the number. Made in 1903 to accompany the Annual Report of the Commission-General of Immigration for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1903 by Frank P. Sargent, Commissioner-General of Immigration and published in Washington in 1903 by the Government Printing Office.
Non-representational art was still nearly twenty years in the future when this lovely cartographic artwork was published in 1894. And what we are seeing here in the collection of circles and spirals is a representation of three trials of a homing pigeon finding its way home in the Lake Monona region of Madison, Wisconsin. C.F. Hodge Ph.D. (of Clark University, psychology) wrote "The Method of Homing Pigeons" for Popular Science Monthly (volume 24, 1894), showing at least in this found instance that behavioralists (yet named at this point) enjoyed working with pigeons well before C.B. Ferster recommended them over rats to B.F. Skinner (mainly because, as Ferster said, he didn't like rats).
Actually Hodge was more of a neuro/pathology person, but for now I'm just interested in the artwork generated by his experiments.