It’s Christmas time for geography nerds around South Florida.
This weekend, HistoryMiami Museum’s Miami International Map Fair is back in town. This year marks the fair’s 24th year in the biz, making it the longest continuous running map fair in the world, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
This weekend, thousands of antique maps, rare books, and atlases will be on display, brought by 35 international map dealers. In addition to showcasing all of these dope old goodies, there will also be several speakers dropping knowledge about celestial and pictorial maps. And if you feel like a total n00b while you’re bopping around, you’ll be able to ask an expert for their opinion on things like the history and value one of your maps for $free.99.
All of the maps are on sale, but if you just want to poke around, that’s chill too. There will be everything from $25 old pictorial maps of Coconut Grove to thousands of dollars worth of antique maps.
Admission for HistoryMiami members is $15, non members is $20, and students is $10. All the deets here.
These are the 6 coolest things that will be on display this year.
The first accurate and detailed map of South Florida
Before this map was made in 1856, swampy South Florida was a cartographic black hole. It was done by mapmaker Joseph Ives and produced on the order of Jefferson Davis, who at the time was the Secretary of War.
The point of this map was to identify routes between military posts, showing the difference between “Wagon Roads,” Blazed Trails,” and “Trails,” many of which would probably have been forgotten if they weren’t mapped. The map also details Florida’s topography more accurately than any other map ever illustrating things like swamp land and forest among others. You’ll also find battlegrounds, forts, Indian settlements, towns, and dwellings.
The first published sea chart of the Gulf of Mexico
This one’s pretty cool because it’s one of the first maps ever to include Florida. Here’s the juicy bit: it was made by Robert Dudley, the son of the Earl of Essex, who was rumored to be the lover of Queen Elizabeth I.
Because Dudley was illegitimate, he couldn’t get a job in England that he could use his sick map making skills for. So he moved to Florence and shined like the star he was, supervising loads of important engineering projects there.
An inflatable globe from 1830
This one was made by a pretty eccentric dude. He was an Englishman named George Pocock and he was really into inventing inflatable versions of solid objects. This globe is one of a series of inflatable globes he made.
Among the first of them was a celestial globe, or “Astronomical Balloon,” as he called it. It was kinda rad because you could see the stars all the way through the globe, so on one end you saw the full dimension of the universe. These balloons are what inspired the inflatable globe you’ll see at the map fair.
Sidenote: Pocock also invented something called a “charvolant” which was a carriage that was pulled by a kite instead of a horse. And it was kinda cool — like it actually worked when there was enough wind and when the kite didn’t get stuck in a tree.
He also invented some other weird non-inflatable stuff like a “thrashing machine” for punishing naughty students, which “consisted of a rotating wheel with artificial hands which whacked an offending schoolboy without any human effort involved.” He was not a successful inventor.
Willem Blaeu’s map of the West Indies
This is the first sea chart of North America using the Mercator projection. (The Mercator projection was designed by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It was great for sailors because it represented landmasses as a straight line, but it distorts the size of landmasses and makes places close to the equator look smaller than places far away from it. West Wing fans will remember it from season two.)
This map is important because it’s the first chart of American waters that was useful for navigation by sea. It was printed on something called vellum, a parchment made of calf’s skin, rather than paper, so that it could be more durable and used on the open ocean. It’s also important because it was created when the Dutch were really goin’ in on colonizing the Western Hemisphere.
And these are two rad maps you can see during the speaker series. (These ones aren’t on sale.)
The History of Celestial Cartography, Saturday at 11 a.m.
This is a celestial map featuring illustrated versions of many of the constellations. It will be presented by Dr. Nick Kanas, an author and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
20th Century Pictorial Maps Panel Discussion, Saturday at 3 p.m.
This is a pictorial map of Nantucket and comes from from the David Rumsey Map Collection, a historical map collection which has more than 67,000 maps and images. It will be featured by Jim Utley, a national speaker and map collector.