Cartographic Curiosities: 1661 North America Map

Historic maps of North America often display a range of fascinating curiosities captured in different combinations. In this video we take a brief look at a 1630/61 map of the Americas which displays sea monsters, tall ships, erroneous geographical features, and a mostly unknown interior.

Perhaps most interesting to modern eyes is the strong westward jutting of the Western coastline, with no hint of Alaska in the North. There is also an absence of any interior place names or features, although the Great Lakes region is arguably identified by a single giant elongated lake filled with small islands.

Within South America we see a giant mythical interior Lake Parime, the rumored location of the mythical El Dorado, the famed "City of Gold".

What helps make maps like this so fascinating is the range of variant printings and appearances yielded over a long period of years. This map was first issued in larger formats by different makers with supplemental features, then reduced in size where it makes further variant appearances -- some of which, like this version, are somewhat elusive, little known, and still slightly tricky to pinpoint within reference works.

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