L'Amérique centr[ale] / Historic map, Library of Congress
Shows North America south of Canada including the Caribbean.
Traced from a ms. world map created for Henri II in 1542 as reproduced in Jomard's Les monuments de la geographie (plate XIX.1), 1842-1862 (Phillips 251).
Reversed in lower left: 1556?.
Oriented with south to the top.
Pen-and-ink and red paint on tracing paper.
LC Luso-Hispanic World, 83
Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.
Pre - 1600s maps, atlases and manuscripts
The geography discoveries and the new printing techniques resulted in maps that can be cheaply produced. Since a globe remains the only accurate way of representing the spherical earth, and any flat representation resulted in distorted projection. In 1569, Mercator published a map of the world specifically intended as an aid to navigation. It used a projection now known by Mercator's name, though it has been used by few others before him, based on a system of latitude and longitude that dated back to Hipparchus. Mercator's projection greatly enlarged territories as they recede from the equator. The distortion of Mercator's projection is a benefit to navigators since Mercator achieves a matching scale for longitude and latitude in every section of the map. A compass course can be plotted at the same angle on any part of Mercator's map. As a result marine charts still use this projection. By the time of his death in 1595, Mercator has either published or prepared large engraved maps, designed for binding into volume form, of France, Germany, Italy, the Balkans, and the British Isles. Mercator's son issues the entire series under the title "Atlas": "Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes." The name becomes the word for a volume of maps.