Saturday, July 19, 2008

#318 Mercator's maps

Although Gerardus Mercator was not much of a traveler, never roaming far from his birthplace near Antwerp, his unique maps "corrected for the use of navigation" changed travel forever. In the village of Sint-Niklaas just a few kilometers from Antwerp, we visited the Mercator Museum and saw his 1569 world map, the first to use the direction-preserving projection that would later bear his name. It's printed on 18 sheets and covers most of a wall.
Nearby sat two Mercator globes, also from the 16th century, along with a bound volume of maps which Mercator was the first to call an "atlas".
Back in Antwerp we spent a good deal of time in the "Geography Room" at the Plantin-Moretus Museum (the only museum on the UNESCO World Heritage list) where Mercator's maps hang alongside works by his contemporary and Antwerp native Abraham Ortelius.

Yours in appreciating maps as art,

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