For a graphic designer, there are few toys as fun as a printing press. I’m talking about relief printing or engraving. Digital printing doesn’t even come close to the creative satisfaction an artist feels viewing a small run of her poster or book or etching. There’s a hands-on quality that’s part of cutting a woodblock or linoleum block and combining it with metal type to produce a printed work of art.
How exciting it must have been as the Age of Exploration unfolded—when map-makers and printers partnered up to chart continents no European had seen before! That’s the place for an artist to be: right at the front of a new technology, where your work has an audience who’s willing to pay you well for it.
This article conveys the creative energy involved in producing maps back then—and the story of a map that had been missing for centuries. It’s only very recently that Martin Waldseemüller’s map is available for us ordinary shmoes to look at.
Martin Waldseemüller’s map was the first to use the name ‘America’ and show the Pacific as a separate ocean. It was printed in 12 sheets to make a really big map—8’ x 4 1/2’.
The Library of Congress made a composite of the 12 sheets. Click on it to zoom in. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3200.ct000725C/?r=0.35,0.205,0.058,0.029,0
Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space