Auteur: A. L. Humphreys
There can be few historical documents which offer the same combination of visual beauty, factual evidence and social interest as old maps. Through them we can trace the develop-ment of human knowledge about the world and the changing face of nation and city, while marvelling at the delicacy of colour and ornamentation achieved by their designers and printers. Arthur L. Humphreys based this history of map-making on the collection of A. G. H. Macpherson, who had acquired over 250 printed books, including at least one copy of all the major atlases published since the 1480s. The extraordinary diversity of the maps in Macpherson's possession, which cover a span of some 300 years in the history of printing, is reflected in the range of black and white and coloured plates selected for illustration here. It was during those 300 years that the great European navigators pushed the frontiers of exploration into the Americas, Africa and Asia, while an increasing interest in local topography led to a demand for town plans and county maps. The earliest wood-cuts representing the ancient Greek view of the world, in which detail fades as Europe is left behind, give way to accurate navigational charts of distant coast-lines and major ports. The later map-makers, however, saw no reason why their new representations of the world should be any less decorative. The gods who blew the winds from the edges of a flat earth were replaced by delightful vignettes of native peoples, mythical monsters by indigenous wild life. Map-making was as much an artistic as a scientific activity. Whatever the focus of their interest, as geographers, art-historians, or simply as people who are curious about the past, this new edition of Humphreys' work offers everybody the opportunity to enjoy old maps that have now become collectors' items.