A New Book on Old Maps Regards Lake Champlain, and Lions | Live Culture
Pin It
Favorite

Friday, October 10, 2014

A New Book on Old Maps Regards Lake Champlain, and Lions

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM

click to enlarge Lake Champlain and a cartouche from a 1767 map - COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
  • Courtesy of the National Archives
  • Lake Champlain and a cartouche from a 1767 map
Graphic designers, cartographers and coffee-table owners might find themselves fascinated with the new book Maps: Their Untold Stories, to be published on October 14 by Bloomsbury. Those with an interest in Vermont history might also find a little cartographic treasure in it.

Authors Rose Mitchell and Andrew Janes are map archivists at the National Archives in London, a fact that accounts for the book's overall Anglocentric focus. And while it does contain many a map of Britain and her former colonies, this handsome, profusely illustrated volume also offers such fascinating features as a map of 19th-century Edo (now Tokyo), a map of the Allied forces' invasion of Normandy and, from 1836, the first-known pen-and-ink map by an Aboriginal Australian.

One chapter, "New Worlds: Exploration and the Colonies," showcases maps that testify to the massive wingspan of the British Empire. Amongst the maps of Gambian slave forts and the Indian subcontinent is a 1767 map of French and British claims to the forested parcels of land that surrounded Lake Champlain. Created by Yorkshireman Simon Metcalfe, the surveyor general of New York province, the map shows how the two countries' claims conflicted.

Even more interesting is the watchful lion that joins a wolf, a crane and a turkey in the cartouche in the map's upper left corner. Cool your jets, Catamount Truthers: Just as in the present day, no lions romped through the Champlain Valley in the mid-18th century. Rather, as the authors write, the mapmaker included this fearsome beast in order to "convey ... to those in London both the inherent possibilities and the dangers present in the colonies."

Fanciful details such as that incongruous lion are exactly what make this and the other maps in the book so fascinating. The maps' very inaccuracies speak most eloquently to their origins and attest to their historical significance.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

About The Author

Ethan de Seife

Ethan de Seife

Bio:
Ethan de Seife was an arts writer at Seven Days from 2013 to 2016. He is the author of Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin, published in 2012 by Wesleyan University Press.

More by Ethan de Seife

  • High Score: Burlington's Archives is a Player
  • High Score: Burlington's Archives is a Player

    When entering the Archives, downtown Burlington's classic-game arcade, one of the first consoles you see is Tapper. The 1983 game, in which a bartender must keep up with his patrons' increasingly frenzied demands for beer, is an apt metaphor for the Archives' two raisons d'être: vintage video games and sudsy brews.

    • Nov 26, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Live Culture

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation