March 24, 2015

Portolan Atlas Dedicated to Hieronymus Ruffault, Abbot of Saint Vaast and Saint Adrian

Battista Agnese, one of the most important Italian Renaissance cartographers, was born in Genoa. He worked in Venice in the period 1536−64, and in about 1544 he produced this sumptuous and well-executed manuscript atlas in pen-and-ink and watercolor with silver and gold illumination on vellum. The atlas reflects the latest geographic knowledge, gained primarily from voyages by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the first half of the 16th century. A mere 50 years after Columbus's historic voyage of 1492, new information based on direct observation was rapidly changing the European image of the world. Maps one, two, and ten in the atlas all offer views of the Americas. Map one shows the Gulf of California discovered by Francisco de Ulloa in 1539, Yucatan as an island, and partial segments of the east and west coasts of South America. Map two shows the entire Atlantic Coast and parts of the Pacific Coast of North and South America. The river system in South America strongly suggests Brazil as an island. Map ten is an oval world map delineating the route of Magellan’s circumnavigation and the routes of the Spanish gold fleets from Peru to Spain, with overland portage across the Isthmus of Panama. In the blue-and-gold clouds surrounding the oval world are cherubs, or wind heads, representing the classical twelve-point winds from which modern compass directions evolved. A version of this world map appears in each of the 71 surviving atlases by Battista Agnese. Maps two and ten include what are among the earliest depictions of Panama. Map nine shows the Mediterranean Coast. The atlas, which also includes an armillary sphere and a finely drawn zodiac chart, was prepared for and dedicated to Hieronimus Ruffault, whose coat of arms faces the dedication. Ruffault was abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Saint Vaast and Saint Adrian in Arras, a northern French city of Gallo-Roman origin.

Portolan Chart of the Pacific Coast from Guatemala to Northern Peru with the Galapagos Islands

Presented here is a detailed Spanish portolan chart on vellum of the Pacific Coast from Guatemala to northern Peru, including the Galapagos Islands. The face of the map, shown first, has a long axis extending east and west and wind roses with fleur-de-lis indicators pointing north. A distance scale at top right is partly torn away; a latitude scale, from 17 degrees north to about nine degrees south, is also damaged. The abundant coastal nomenclature is carefully written, and many coastal features, towns, and settlements are indicated. Stylized architectural drawings of buildings and groups of buildings with flags represent inland towns and cities. Three of these places  are identified as "qujto," "granada," and "leon." The chart also includes decorative drawings of four large birds and a tree. Researchers at the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress concluded that the map probably “was not made until after the year 1561 because it contains the name Landecho for a village in Guatemala. This village seems to have been so designated for a president of the Audiencia of Guatemala, named Landecho, who assumed office in 1561.” The map has been trimmed to a rough rectangle and matted and mounted between sheets of transparent Lucite. The second image shows the map’s reverse side.

Panama Canal. Lock Canal Project Map

This large, detailed, and colorful map is from the collection of the Panama Canal Zone Library, which was transferred to the Library of Congress in 1978. This collection contains various maps, plans, and diagrams detailing the history of Panama and the construction of the Panama Canal over the ten-year period of 1904 to 1914. This map shows the line of the planned lock canal with the summit elevations at 85 feet (25.9 meters) and represents the work for the Isthmian Canal Commission by Chief Engineer John Stevens. Stevens oversaw the engineering of the canal’s lock system and the rerouting of the Panama Railroad. The map shows the line of the canal, contemporaneous and projected locations of the Panama railroad, dams, and bodies of water and their depths. The map also includes some soundings and relief. Land relief is shown by contours and hachures and is marked in meters. Distance scales are in statute miles and kilometers.

Property Map of the Canal Zone Showing Property Belonging to the United States of America, Panama Railroad Company, and Lands Claimed by Private Persons

This large, detailed, map is from the collection of the Panama Canal Zone Library, which was transferred to the Library of Congress in 1978. This collection contains various maps, plans, and diagrams detailing the history of Panama and the construction of the Panama Canal over the ten-year period of 1904 to 1914. According to a note on the map, the “map shows the land in the Canal Zone that has been set apart for all Governmental purposes in the Canal Zone, to date, and whether the land belongs to the United States of America, the Panama Railroad Company, or to private individuals. It further indicates whether these reservations for Governmental purposes have been made for Canal Works, Fortifications, Lighting, Town sites, Reservoirs, Watersheds, or Miscellaneous purposes….” Colored markings on the map further subdivide U.S. lands into those acquired by treaty, by purchase, or from the French. France had initiated work on a canal across the isthmus in 1879, but the project stalled. Panama gained independence from Colombia in 1903 and the United States acquired from Panama the rights to build a canal, as well as bought the assets of the defunct French canal construction company. This map formed part of submissions to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce by Frank Feuille, head of the Department of Law of the Isthmian Canal Commission, at Ancon in the Canal Zone on December 22, 1911, and January 26, 1912.

Panoramic View of the Canal of Panama

French mathematician and surveyor Charles Muret made one of the first representations of a projected canal across the isthmus of Panama in about 1881, at the beginning of the French venture to build the canal, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Muret’s plaster cast of the topography of Panama was shown at the 1885 World Exhibition in Antwerp and was awarded a gold medal. Shown here is an engraving of the Muret plan by L. Wuhrer (Louis Charles Wuhrer, flourished 1874−1906). The image shows the ships entering the canal area from Colón (previously called Aspinwall by Americans, after a Panama Railroad promoter) on the Atlantic Coast and looks southwest to Panama City on the Pacific Coast. It also shows the towns of Gatún, Chagres, Gorgona, and Cruces and depicts, but does not label, mountains and rivers. The legend at lower left identifies the basins of the canal, a dam to level the water of the upper Chagres Basin, the lower part of the Chagres River separated from the upper Chagres by the slopes of the canal, and side canals formed by the slopes of the canal. The legend at lower right gives statistics of the proposed breadth and depth of the canal.

Map of Lango District, Eastern Province

This map of the Lango District in the Eastern Province of Uganda was issued in 1945 by the Department of Surveys of the Uganda Protectorate. Shown are district, provincial, and county boundaries; district and county headquarters; towns and trading centers; roads of different capacities; and post offices and telegraph lines. The map contains several handwritten additions and corrections in red and blue pencil. The Lango District was the traditional homeland of the Lango or Langi people, who inhabit the marshy region northeast of Lakes Kwania and Kyoga in northern Uganda. Both lakes are shown. Part of the northern border of the district was formed by the Aswa River, which flows northward into present-day South Sudan and eventually joins the White Nile. The region to the north of the river is labeled on the map as “uninhabited.” After independence, the districts of the Uganda Protectorate were divided into smaller administrative units, and the former Lango District now consists of Apac, Lira, and several other districts. The scale of the map is 1:250,000.

Lake Nabugabo, Uganda, East Africa

This map of Lake Nabugabo, Uganda, was issued in 1963 by the Uganda Department of Lands and Surveys, based on field survey data, aerial photography, and earlier maps. Shown are built-up areas, roads, huts and villages, railroads, airfields, telegraph lines, churches and mosques, ancient sites, and international, regional, district, and other boundaries. Symbols are used to indicate natural features and different types of terrain, including forest, thicket, bamboo, plantation, and several types of swamp. Until about 5,000 years ago, Lake Nabugabo was a part of Lake Victoria, from which it was gradually separated by a buildup of sand dunes resulting from strong westerly winds. The narrow strip of swampland between the two lakes is shown on the map. The scale is 1:50,000. In the lower-right-hand corner is an inset map of the town of Mukungwe, located on the western side of Lake Nabugabo. This region includes the 22,000-hectare Lake Nabugabo wetland district, which is listed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, established under a convention adopted in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 by the International Conference on Wetlands and Waterfowl.

Map of Uganda Protectorate

This map of Uganda during the period of British colonial rule was published in 1935 by the Department of Surveys of the Uganda Protectorate. Shown are international, intercolonial, provincial, district, and county boundaries; roads of different capacities; bush paths; telegraph lines; railways; Protestant and Roman Catholic missions; ancient sites; and physical features. The latter include rivers, lakes, elevation above sea level, and “permanent watering holes in dry areas.” A note on the map indicates that Lake Victoria is located at an elevation of 3,720 feet (1,133.86 meters) above sea level and that it covers an area of 26,828 square miles (69,484 square kilometers). An index grid located in the upper left of the map shows the different sheets of the international series of which this map is part. An inset map shows sea and air routes from Great Britain to Uganda. The scale is given as 1:1,000,000. The Uganda Protectorate is shown as bordered to the north by Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (present-day South Sudan and Sudan), to the east by Kenya, to the south by Tanganyika Territory (present-day Tanzania), and to the west by the Belgian Congo (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Bale, Uganda

This map of the area around the town of Bale, in the region of Buganda, in the district of Uganda that was then called Mengo, was published by the Directorate of Overseas Surveys for the government of Uganda in 1964. It is based on aerial surveys carried out in 1960 and on field survey data. Bale is located on the west side of the Victoria Nile River as it flows northward from Lake Victoria toward Lake Kyoga. The river is navigable at this point. The map shows the town, with its schools, administrative buildings, trading center, and other facilities. Also visible, in the lower-right-hand corner of the map, is the town of Namasagali, located on the right bank of the Victoria Nile, with its quay, water pump, schools, hospital, and other facilities. Individual dwellings on this extremely detailed survey map are indicated by dots. Physical features depicted on the map include woodlands, different kinds of swamps, and lakes and rivers. An index grid in the lower left identifies adjoining sheets to this map. The map scale is 1:50,000. Distances are shown in kilometers and miles. Elevations are in feet.

Masaka, Uganda

This map of Masaka District, Buganda Province in the Uganda Protectorate (present-day Uganda) was issued by the Uganda Department of Lands and Surveys in 1959. It was compiled by the department from earlier maps and from aerial photography carried out in 1950. The area depicted on the map includes the region west of Lake Victoria and north of the border with Tanganyika Territory (present-day Tanzania), including the northwestern part of Lake Victoria containing the Sese Islands (also seen as Ssese) and Kome Island. The northern edge of the map is defined by the equator (0° latitude). Shown are roads; natural features, including forest and woodland, swamps, lakes, and rivers; schools; churches; and piers and lighthouses. The town of Masaka, located just west of Lake Nabugabo, is shown. Masaka was at one time Uganda’s second-largest city, after Kampala, but it was largely destroyed in the Uganda-Tanzania war of 1979 and the Ugandan civil war of 1981−86. An index grid in the lower right identifies adjoining sheets to this map. The map scale is 1:250,000. Distances are shown in kilometers and miles. Elevations are in feet.