Inextricably linked with maritime exploration, travel and shipping routes, and the study of climate and temperature, the discovery and subsequent tracking of ocean currents has long fascinated scientists and cartographers. Maps as early as the 16th and 17th century feature lines and arrows cutting through vast blue seas, indicating the clockwise and counterclockwise rotational pull of the ocean. Later maps of the 18th and 19th century show advanced detailed data of the strength and directionality of currents.
We have several beautiful maps that depict ocean currents, both in our gallery in Washington DC and in New York. Below is a small sampling. Enjoy!
Johnson’s Ocean Currents and the Great River Basins of the World [and] Johnson’s World, Showing the Distribution of the Temperature of the Air. By A. J. Johnson. Published by A. J. Johnson, New York. Engraving, hand colored, 1878. From “Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas of the World.” A fascinating and decorative meteorological map. The fist includes legends comparing the surface areas of river basiins and the rivers’ lengths. The second includes two insets comparing mean temperaures around the world in winter and summer.
The World on Mercator’s Projection, Showing the Chief Countries and their Colonies, Also the Ocean Currents and the Principal Routes of Travel. Published by The Century Co., New York. Multi-color roto-lithograph, 1897. This colorful map was printed by The Matthews-Northrup Co., Buffalo. No. 1 from The Century Atlas of the World. Ocean currents are depicted in red and gold lines.
Oceanie. (Pacific Ocean). By Auguste H. Dufour. Published in Paris by Paulin & Le Chevalier, 60, Rue Richelieu. Steel plate engraving, 1860. A beautifully detailed and well-colored map of the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean from Dufour’s “Atlas Physique, Historique et Politique de Geographie Moderne.” Engraved by Ch. Dyonnet. Many of the islands are color keyed to identify the various European colonial possessions. Also delineated are several ocean currents. Inset maps include New South Wales, New Caledonia, Tahiti, and the Gambier archipelago.
Tabula Geographico-Hydrographica Motus Oceani Currentes, Abyssos, Montes Ignivomos in Universo Orbe Indicans, Notat Haec Fig. Abyssos, Montes Vulcanios. By Johann Zahn. Published by J. Zahn, Nuremberg. Copper plate engraving, 1696. A fascinating and scarce world map that shows the ocean currents, abysses in the sea and volcanoes on land. Johann Zahn was a philosopher of the Praemonstratensian order at Wurzburg.