17th Century Maps, 19th Century Maps, Copperplate, Engraving, Foreign Maps, Maps, Past/Present

Past/Present: Africa maps

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Today we have two maps showcasing  the southern portion of Africa. The older map, Aethiopia Inferior vel Exterior, was published by G. Blaeu in Amsterdam, circa 1635. This map covers an area from Congo-Zanzibar to the Cape and was largely based on Portuguese exploration, both real and imagined. This was the standard map of South Africa throughout the 17th century. Stylistically, the map is a fine example of 17th century Dutch maps- ornate, colorful, and beautifully engraved. The cartouche depicts two native Africans holding up an ox skin bearing the map title. At their feet are monkeys and tortoises. Several more animals roam the continent, while the seas are peppered with ships, possibly fluyts- the gem of the Dutch sailing and trading fleet.

The 19th century map, entitled Africa, is from “Colton’s Atlas of the World”. It shows Cape Colony, Trans Waal Republic, British Kafraria, Natal, Zulu Country, Mozambique, and Zanguebar. In contrast to the earlier 17th century map, this Colton engraving shows more of Madagascar, and the smaller islands in the Indian Ocean.

Image on the Left: Aethiopia Inferior vel Exterior. By Willem J. Blaeu.Published by G. Blaeu, Amsterdam. Copper plate engraving, c.1635. Latin text on verso. Original handcoloring.

Image on the Right: Africa. (Southern Sheet.) By J. H. Colton. Published by J. H. Colton and Company, New York. Engraving, 1855-56. Handcolored.

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