Introduction to Maryland Maps

Guide to Large Maps

Guide to Medium & Small Maps

Marylanders possess a centuries ­old interest in map collecting. In February 1763, William Rind set up a private circulating library in Annapolis that included a selection of maps. According to Rind, "as the richest Soil, without due cultivation, runs into rank and unprofitable Weeds, so little Fruit can be expected from the best natural Endowments, where the Mind is not under the Direction of proper intellectual Aids." Unfortunately, the subscription ­funded enterprise failed to garner the necessary financial support, and it appears that Rind's map collection was dispersed in the summer of 1764.

In 1844 a more successful attempt to organize a permanent map collection was made when several enlightened gentlemen of business founded the Maryland Historical Society Library. The organization's collecting policy "deemed it advisable to annex. Topographical descriptions of towns, cities, counties or states, with maps." An initial donation of two maps, one of the C&O Canal and the other of Florida, served as the nucleus of a valuable reference collection.

The mapping of Maryland developed over several centuries and involved the contributions of many cartographers. John White's 1590 map of Virginia hints at a vast estuary bearing the name "Chesepiooc Sinus," whose source appears to spring forth from beneath the title cartouche, marking the first appearance of the name "Chesapeake Bay" on any map. White's map, however, was soon superseded by that of Captain John Smith of Jamestown. Smith's meticulous 1608-9 survey of the bay region, encompassing some 2,000 miles of coast in all, served as the intellectual foundation for a map referred to by cartographers for over sixty years. Printed in 1612, the Smith map became the "Mother map" or prototype for numerous derivatives and an inspiration for later regional depictions.

Cartographers often "borrowed" ideas and images in their entirety. Willem Blaeu, the famed Dutch cartographer and printer, appears to have wholly appropriated Smith's design yet gives it a more refined and elegant interpretation in his 1630 Nova Virginia Tabula. Johann Baptist Homann, a noted German mapmaker, adapted Smith's rendition of the Susquehannock warrior for his own cartouche design in his 1714 Virginia Marylandia et Carolina.

The next major influence in the cartography of Maryland came with the work of Augustine Hermann. Hermann, a Bohemian immigrant, negotiated an agreement with Lord Baltimore to produce a map of Maryland in exchange for a land grant. Begun in 1663 and requiring ten years of surveys and information gathering, the 1673 map would determine the depiction of Maryland for eighty years. Hermann's influence is seen immediately in the sea charts of van Keulen (1684) and Mortier (1696). Numerous maps created during the first half of the 1700s continued to borrow from Hermann.

It was not until the eighteenth century that the portrayal of Maryland in maps began to resemble what we know today. With the exception of navigational charts, mapmakers abandoned John Smith's orientation of placing North to the right. Also, until the eighteenth century, what little was known of the western region had been drawn largely from oral information supplied by Native Americans or frontiersmen, resulting in sketchy and sometimes imaginative interpretations. The 1753 map by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson provides an early, if broad, portrayal of the panhandle area of the colony. Yet not until 1769, when the king and his council ratified the Mason ­Dixon survey line, could cartographers place Maryland's northern border with certainty.

In 1795, with the work of Dennis Griffith, Maryland mapmaking reached its eighteenth-century zenith. After he had spent several years producing this topographically accurate, highly detailed work, Griffith found that his map attracted few buyers, and he died bankrupt. Griffith's legacy, however, can easily be seen in later works.

Printed Maryland city maps first appeared in the late eighteenth century. Baltimore, as a population center, served as a natural subject for mapmakers. Two French cartographers produced the first detailed maps during the 1790s. A. P. Folie and Charles Varlé (fig.x) both present the early city and its three distinct yet rapidly encroaching, areas: Baltimore, Old Town, and Fell's Point. Another early map, this one with Baltimore inset within a map of Maryland, came from the hand of Fielding Lucas Jr. Originally featured within Lucas's "Cabinet Atlas" of 1824, this work is distinct in that it was the first map of a city in any world atlas. Thomas Poppleton's 1822 plan of Baltimore is the marriage of practicality and art and combines civic propaganda with decoration. Harkening to the tradition of some earlier cartographers, a series of beautifully executed vignettes surround the map. Featuring prominent city buildings and their individual construction costs, the engravings boast the municipal achievements of what was then America's third largest city.

Navigational charts form a portion of the Hackerman collection. Reliable information on the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast was essential in an area whose early economy, and even at times its very existence, were determined by water. Sir Robert Dudley's extremely rare 1646 Carta Particolare della Virginia, based on the Mercator projection, was contained in his sea atlas Dell Arcano del Mare, the first such atlas produced by an Englishman. Dudley, a Roman Catholic, fled religious persecution in England and settled in Tuscany, thus his work appears with Italian annotations. The John Mount and Thomas Page chart of 1745-58, derived from one that had appeared five decades earlier, contains numerous depth sounding notations throughout its field. The upper Chesapeake is highlighted in the work of C. P. Hardecoeur,  whose beautifully engraved 1799 chart also contains an inset plan of Havre de Grace.

The collection also includes a selection of maps of Maryland set within the context of its neighbors. These more general maps are important in the development of the cartography of the region. It is also amusing to note occasional misinterpretations. Dudley's 1646 Carta Secunda Generale de America is an early, somewhat sketchy, view of the East Coast that features a vastly wide Chesapeake Bay. An imaginative view of the Southeast is contained in Homann's 1714 map: Florida's panhandle appears to "circle around" the other southern colonies and head north to share a border with Maryland.