Biographies of Some of the More Famous Cartographers
Johannes COVENS & Corneille MORTIER
The output of Covens and Mortier was vast and the business was continued until as late as 1866 by various relatives. Covens and Mortier were responsible for the re-issue of atlases, pocket atlases, wall maps and town plans by such mapmakers as Sanson, Jaillot, Visscher, van der Aa, De L’Isle and De Wit amongst others. Some of their well-know reissues included the Atlas Nouveau or Novus Atlas of Guillaume De L’Isle, the Nieuwe Atlas of Sanson and the Nouvel Atlas by Pieter van der Aa amongst others.
Giovanni Antonio MAGINI
Giovanni Antonio Magini (1555-1617) was born in Padua, Italy, and studied medicine, mathematics, astronomy and philosophy at the University of Bologna where he was later to become a professor of astronomy. He corresponded with many of the renowned figures of the age including Ortelius, Tycho Brahe, Galileo and Johanes Kepler. He authored various works on astronomy and also produced the first printed atlas of Italy, which was published posthumously by his son Fabio. Other works included the “Geographiae Universiae” (1597) and “Moderne Tavole Di Geografia” amongst others.
Allain Manesson MALET
Alain Manneson Mallet (1630-1706) spent the first part of his career as a foot soldier in one the regiments of Louis XIV, becoming a sergeant-major of artillery and then an inspector of fortifications. After leaving the army he specialised in the publication of books describing both scientific and practical aspects of military engineering.
He is best known, however, for the compendious “Description De L’Univers”, a five volume geographical, cosmographic and historical work, which included maps of all known parts of the world. First published in 1683 with French text, a second German edition followed in 1684 in Frankfurt with the addition of German titles to the maps, just outside the printed border.
The miniature maps are highly distinctive: small picturesque engravings which combine decorative elements with an unusual degree of detail.
Originally a scholar studying Hebrew, Greek and mathematics, Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) eventually specialised in mathematical geography and cartography. It was this double ability - as a classicist and mathematician - that was to prove invaluable when Munster set himself to preparing new editions of Solinus’ “Memorabilia” and Mela’s “De Situ Orbis”, two classical descriptive geographies containing maps, and his own two greatest works, the “Geographia” and “Cosmographia”. These reflect the widespread interest in classical texts, which were being rediscovered in the fifteenth century, and being disseminated in the later fifteenth and sixteenth century, through the new medium of printing.
The “Geographia” was a translation of Ptolemy’s landmark geographical text, compiled in about 150 AD., illustrated with maps based on Ptolemy’s calculations, but also, in recognition of the increased geographical awareness, contains a section of modern maps. In the first edition of the “Geographia”, Munster included 27 ancient Ptolemaic maps and 21 modern maps, printed from woodblocks. Subsequent editions of the “Cosmographia” were to contain a vast number of maps and plans.
One consequence of Munster’s work was the impetus it gave to regional mapping of Germany, but Munster was also the first cartographer to produce a set of maps of the four continents on separate maps. Most importantly, through his books (the “Geographia” and “Cosmographia” alone ran to over forty editions in six languages), Munster was responsible for diffusing the most up-to-date geographical information throughout Europe.
Pierre Mariette, the elder (c.1602-1658) was a bookseller, printseller and publisher who worked closely with Nicolas Sanson in Paris. The work of French mapmakers and publishers such as Sanson and Mariette marked the start of the process by which Paris superseded Amsterdam as the centre of European map production.
Mariette maps are remarkable for their accuracy and clarity, with less focus on decorative embellishment. Thus they are modelled more on the French method of map production at this time than the Dutch.
Johannes Covens and Cornelis Mortier were responsible for one of the most prolific map-making and publishing endeavours during the second and third quarters of the eighteenth century. They worked from premises in Amsterdam where they were well situated to acquire the plates and rights to many earlier atlases. Johannes was the brother-in-law of Cornelis and the son of Pieter Mortier, a mapmaker and publisher in his own right.
The output of Covens and Mortier was vast and the business was continued until as late as 1866 by various relatives. Covens and Mortier were responsible for the re-issue of atlases, pocket atlases, wall maps and town plans by such mapmakers as Sanson, Jaillot, Visscher, van der Aa, De L’Isle and De Wit amongst others. Some of their well-know reissues included the "Atlas Nouveau" or "Novus Atlas" of Guillaume De L’Isle, the "Nieuwe Atlas" of Sanson and the "Nouvel Atlas" by Pieter van der Aa amongst others.
Samuel Augustus MITCHELL
A resurgence of atlas production in North America during the 1840s and 1850s reflected an emerging mass market fuelled by prosperity and mobility. Samuel Augustus Mitchell was one of the proponents of this; his “New Universal Atlas” was first published in 1846 and was issued periodically until 1893.
A native of Scotland, Mitchell became a prolific publisher of geographical works when he emigrated to the United States. Walter W. Ristow notes that Mitchell employed as many as 250 persons in his Philadelphia establishment, which he took over from Henry S. Tanner in the mid-nineteenth century.
Edward Mogg was a publisher, engraver and mapseller based at various locations within London throughout the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Although Mogg specialized in maps for guides to London and road maps of England and Wales, he also produced railway maps and a plan of Ascot racecourse. Mogg also produced cab-fare guides to accompany many of his maps, enabling travellers to discover not only there exact location, but also whether they had been over-charged in getting there.
Herman Moll was born in 1654 of German descent. He first came to London to work as an engraver for several publishers, and in the late 1670s set up his own business publishing atlases as well as maps of all parts of the world. His earliest known cartographic work is a series of small maps for the geography book of Sir Jonas Moore, published in 1683. Over the next fifty years he produced numerous works on classical, British and foreign geography, illustrated with maps of varying scales and detail yet in clear, distinctive style. Though his later work lacks the flamboyance of earlier productions, it is nevertheless still very pleasing to the eye.
At a time when French cartography was at its most active (dominated by the work of Guillaume de L’Isle) and France at its most politically aggressive in territorial claims, Moll’s maps, with their well defined boundaries and numerous annotations, achieved high acclaim. Indeed, his work was much copied by other publishers. The writer Jonathan Swift is said to have referred to Moll’s maps in the writing of “Gulliver’s Travels” to add a good dash of credibility to his story: the location of the islands visited by Lemuel Gulliver could thenceforth not be disputed …
Moll’s best known works are the maps he produced for his folio atlas “The World Described”, first published circa 1715. These maps have numerous annotations and often appear with large vignette scenes, inset plans and details, and elaborate and decorative title-pieces, offering excellent summation of certain areas of British knowledge in the early 1700s.
Perhaps Moll’s most famous map is the “New And Exact Map Of The Dominions Of The King Of Great Britain On Ye Continent Of North America”, depicting the English colonies along the east coast. The map is more popularly called the ‘Beaver Map’ after its attractive vignette scene of beavers building dams. His other works include the “Atlas Manuale” (1709), the “New And Complete Atlas” (1719), the “Atlas Minor” (1729) and “Atlas Geographus” (1711-17) in five volumes.
He also published a fine series of county maps in the “New DescriptionOof England” in 1724. These maps are famous for their side panels which display drawings of architectural remains from some of the counties.
Considering the popularity and success of Camden’s “Britannia”, first issued with maps in 1607, it is surprising that it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that a new edition was prepared. Robert Morden (d.1703) was commissioned to engrave a set of county maps for this new edition by Edmund Gibson. However, the first series he prepared were rejected as being too small, and these were later published in Morden’s “New Description and State of England”, first issued in 1701, and subsequently re-issued in Cox’s “Magna Britannia”, in the 1720s.
Morden finally produced a new set of maps on a larger scale which were used in Gibson’s editions published in 1695, 1722, circa 1730, 1753 and 1772. The maps were based on the most up-to-date surveys where available, although some drew on Saxton and Speed, and were engraved by Sutton Nicholls and John Sturt.
The maps are plain and simple, invariably with decorative title surround, and charmingly engraved. Their detail, convenient size, visual attraction and antiquity make them among the most popular of all early county maps.
Matthaus Merian (1593-1650), was a prolific engraver and one of the leading German map-and atlas publishers of the period.
His “Neuwe Archolontologia Cosmica” was a world atlas published in Frankfurt, compiled from the best available published materials, with many of the maps based on those published by the Blaeu family in Amsterdam, in the 1630’s.
Charles V. MONIN
Charles V Monin was a renowned French publisher and geographer working from both Paris and Caen throughout his career. He was responsible for a number of geographical jigsaw puzzles as well as separately published maps and atlases such as the “Atlas Universel De Geographie Ancienne Et Moderne” of 1837 and the “Petit Atlas National” of 1841.
Arnold Montanus (c.1625-1683) is best known for “De Nieuwe En Onbekende Weereld”, published in 1671, considered the first encyclopaedia of the Americas.
This was re-issued in Dutch, translated by Olfert Dapper and published by Jacob van Meurs, in Amsterdam in 1673, and John Ogilby published then English translation in 1671 as “America; Being The Latest, And Most Accurate Description Of The New World ...”.
Montanus’ volume is one of the earliest detailed textual accounts of the Americas, although primarily focussing on the Dutch possessions, and South America. This thick volume was illustrated with a series of maps and views; the maps are largely reductions of the comparable maps from Blaeu’s “Theatrum ...”, the most comprehensive and detailed collection of maps of the Americas available at the time. MonThis map is a carefully engraved, and faithful reduction, at approximately two-thirds size, of Blaeu’s map of the same title, first issued in 1635.
At the end of the seventeenth century, Dutch map production had settled into a repetitive and derivative rut, reissuing and copying earlier and outdated maps. Pierre Mortier (1661-1711) realised that Dutch cartography needed a new innovative impetus. As a result, he went into partnership with Alexis Hubert Jaillot (q.v.), publishing copies of Jaillot maps from 1692 - the finest and most up-to-date maps available, in Holland, and this proved a considerable boost to the Dutch map trade. Following his death in 1711, the business was continued by his widow, and brother David. From 1721, the business was taken over by Pierre’s son Corneille and Jean Covens, the partnership being known as Covens and Mortier, a firm which continued until 1866.
Maps by Thomas Moule (1784-1851) are probably, with those by Speed, the best known of all series of English county maps. Issued from 1830, the maps combine a clarity of cartographic style with immense detail, by way of vignette views, scenes and portraits relating to the county shown, often set within a gothic architectural or floral surround into which armorial devices and so on are worked. As editions of the maps were published, first in “The English Counties Delineated” and later in “Barclay’s English Dictionary”, the development of the network of railways throughout England can be observed.
Moule, like many other map-makers and map-sellers before him, was a man of many talents. As an author his output included books and papers on topography, history, genealogy, heraldry and architecture; the maps he designed show elements of these studies. The maps and plans produced for Moule’s “English Counties Delineated”, originally issued as a part-work, include maps of each English county, the towns of London, Bath, Boston, Portsmouth and Plymouth, and the Isles of Wight, Man and Thanet. Frequently entitled “the last series of decorative county maps”, they are good informative maps, as popular now as they were in the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign
Murdoch Mackenzie Sr (1712-1797/99) made an enormous contribution to the mapping of the Western Isles of Scotland. His first venture, privately funded, was the re-surveying of the Orkneys; the finished survey is noted for its “exactness and thoroughness.” Mackenzie established a measured base-line then took compass measurements to prominent beacons, and between the beacons themselves, so that he built up a complete triangulation framework, before taking to a boat to fill in the gaps, and measure soundings, sandbanks, channels, rocks and so on.
This survey is important hydrographically as the first series of charts formatted by triangulation, before taking bearings at sea.
As a result of his work, Mackenzie was commissioned by the Admiralty to chart the western coast of Scotland, and Ireland. The sheer size of the new undertaking made it impossible to use the same painstaking methods but, nevertheless, Mackenzie spent nearly fifteen years in carrying out the surveying. The engraving was completed by 1776, when the volume was published.
In view of the size of the task, and the rudimentary tools at his disposal, this is a remarkable survey for its time; it was only by the use of better equipment that these charts were superseded.
The family firms founded by Richard Mount (d. 1722) and Thomas Page (1698-1712) and the partnership between them was synonymous with the publishing of marine charts throughout the eighteenth century. Their best known works were the “English Pilot” and Collin’s “Coasting Pilot”, both of which appeared in a number of editions.
Originally a student of philosophy Gerard Mercator (1512-1594) came under the influence of Gemma Frisius, the founder of the Belgian school of Geography, and became interested in mathematics - both in the theory and the practical application. With these skills he soon became an expert in land surveying and cartography, as well as a skilled engraver.
James Mynde (fl. 1720-1760) was a well-known London engraver of the period. He is known for a number of diverse maps including Captain James Wimble’s “…This Chart Of His Majesties Province Of North Carolina …” and Richard Jones’s “A Correct Draft Of The Harbours Of Port Royal And Kingston”, as well as globes for James Ferguson.
Further information about many of these cartographers may be found in the volumes of Tooley's Dictionary - an invaluable addition to any map collection or single item.