Query: What are the single-volume histories of maps/cartography ??

Matthew Edney's picture

Dear Friends:

What are the single-volume, general histories of maps/mapping/cartography??

There are many English-language works, from Louis Holman’s Old Maps and Their Makers (1925) to Akerman-Karrow Maps (2007), but I know of only a few non-Anglophone accounts. They are hard to find in catalogs like WorldCat, because there is no single subject heading for them!

What ones do you know that aren’t on the following lists? (The following do not include more popular, heavily illustrated works, like Peter Barber's The Map Book or the recent Phaidon text)

Any and all comments and suggestions welcome.


Matthew Edney


Centre Georges Pompidou. 1980. Cartes et figures de la terre. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou.

Kupčik, Ivan. 1981. Cartes géographiques anciennes: Évolution de la représentation cartographique du monde, de l’Antiquité à la fin du XIXe siècle. Translated by Suzanne Bartošek. Paris: Gründ.

Kish, George. 1980. La carte: Image des civilisations. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Libault, André. nd. Histoire de la cartographie. Paris: Chaix. [anyone have a date for this?]


Bagrow, Leo. 1951. Die Geschichte der Kartographie. Berlin: Safari-Verlag.

Grosjean, Georges, and Rudolf Kinauer. 1970. Kartenkunst und Kartentechnik vom Altertum bis zum Barock. Bern: Verlag Hallwag.

Kupčík, Ivan. 2011. Alte Landkarten von der Antike bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts: Ein Handbuch zur Geschichte der Kartographie. 8th ed. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Schneider, Ute. 2012. Die Macht der Karten: Eine Geschichte der Kartographie vom Mittelalter bis heute. Darmstadt: Primus Verlag.

Wolkenhauer, Wilhelm. 1895. Leitfaden zur Geschichte der Kartographie in tabellarischer Darstellung. Breslau: Ferdinand Hirt, Königliche Universitäts- und Verlags-Buchhandlung. Reprinted as with many additions as “Aus der Geschichte der Kartographie,” Deutsche geographische Blätter 27 (1904): 95–116, 33 (1910): 239–64, 34 (1911): 120–29, 35 (1912): 29–47, 36 (1913): 136–58, and 38 (1916/17): 101–28 and 157–201.


Akerman, James R., and Robert W. Karrow, eds. 2007. Maps: Finding Our Place in the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bagrow, Leo. 1964. The History of Cartography. Translated by D. L. Paisley. Edited by R. A. Skelton. London: C. A. Watts. Reprinted as Chicago: Precedent Publishing, 1985, 2d ed.

Berthon, Simon, and Andrew Robinson. 1991. The Shape of the World: The Mapping and Discovery of the Earth. Chicago: Rand McNally for Granada TV.

Brotton, Jerry. 2012. A History of the World in Twelve Maps. London: Allen Lane.

Brown, Lloyd A. 1949. The Story of Maps. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. Reprinted as New York: Dover, 1979.

Cottler, Joseph, and Haym Jaffe. 1938. Map Makers. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co.

Crone, G. R. 1953. Maps and Their Makers: An Introduction to the History of Cartography. London: Hutchinson. 2nd ed., 1962; 3rd ed., 1966; 5th ed., 1978.

Curnow, I. J. 1930. The World Mapped: Being a Short History of Attempts to Map the World from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. London: Sifton Praed.

Debenham, Frank. 1936. Mapmaking. London: Blackie & Son.

Hodgkiss, Alan G. 1981. Understanding Maps: A Systematic Enquiry of their Use and Development. Folkestone, Kent: Dawson.

Holman, Louis A. 1925. Old Maps and Their Makers Considered from the Historical and Decorative Standpoints: A Survey of a Huge Subject in a Small Space. Boston: Charles E. Goodspeed & Co. 2nd ed., 1926; 3rd ed., 1936.

Jervis, W. W. 1936. The World in Maps: A Study in Map Evolution. London: George Philip & Son. Reprinted as New York: Oxford University Press, 1937. 2nd ed., London and New York, 1938.

Lynam, Edward. 1953. The Mapmaker’s Art: Essays on the History of Maps. London: The Batchworth Press.

Short, John Rennie. 2003. The World Through Maps: A History of Cartography. Toronto: Firefly Books.

Thrower, Norman J. W. 1972. Maps and Man: An Examination of Cartography in Relation to Culture and Civilization. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Thrower, Norman J. W. 1996. Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 3rd ed., 2008.

Wilford, John Noble. 1981. The Mapmakers: The Story of the Great Pioneers in Cartography from Antiquity to the Space Age. New York: Vintage Books. Rev. ed. published as The Mapmakers (New York: A. A. Knopf, 2000).


Oswald Dreyer-Eimbcke (1988) Die Entdeckung der Erde: Geschichte und Geschichten des kartographischen Abenteuers. Frankfurt am Main: Umschau Verlag.
(Brazilian translation published in 1992 as "O descobrimento da terra: história e histórias da aventura cartográfica")

Apart from some translated works (incl. coffee-table books like John Goss's 'The mapmaker's art), there don't really exist single volume histories of cartography/mapping in Dutch. There only is a small booklet:

Michels, F.W. & G.E.K. Brummer. 1971. Over cartografie. Een vlucht over het terrein van vogelvlucht- en andere kaarten, gewone en ongewone, eendrachtig gevlogen. (Amsterdam: Van Lindonk, 1971).

Published for Grolsch beer brewery, and accompanied by a series of bird's eye maps designed by Michels.

There are, however, single volume works on the history of Dutch cartography. These include:

Fockema Andreae, S.J. & B. van 't Hoff. 1947. Geschiedenis der kartografie van Nederland van den Romeinschen tijd tot het midden der 19de eeuw ('s-GRavenhage: Nijhoff, 1947).

Fockema Andreae, S.J. & C. Koeman. 1972. Kaarten en kaarttekenaars. (Bussum: Fibula-Van Dishoeck, 1972).

Koeman, C. 1983. De geschiedenis van de kartografie van Nederland. Zes eeuwen land- en zeekaarten en stadsplattegronden. (Alphen aan den Rijn: Canaletto, 1983).

Vries, D. de, P.C.J. van der Krogt & J. Smits. 1994. La cartografia dels Països Baixos. (Barcelona: Institut Cartografìc de Catalunya, 1994).

I hope this is helpful Matthew.

Best regards,

Martijn Storms

Hi Matthew,

Here are some general Dutch books on the history of cartography/mapping:
- J.J. Vredenberg-Alink, Spiegel der Wereld, Utrecht, A. Oosthoek's Uitgeversmaatschappij nv, 1969.
- S.J. Fockema Andreae & C. Koeman, Kaarten en kaarttekenaars, Bussum, Fibula -Van Dishoeck, 1975, 2nd ed.
- C. Koeman, Geschiedenis van de kartografie van Nederland. Zes eeuwen land- en zeekaarten en stadsplattegronden, Alphen aan den Rijn, Canaletto, 1983.
- K. Zandvliet, De groote waereld in’t kleen geschildert. Nederlandse kartografie tussen de middeleeuwen en de industriële revolutie, Alphen aan den Rijn, Canaletto, 1985.
- Marc Hameleers, Marc Carnier, Patricia Alkhoven & Rink Kruk (ed.), Cartografie. Visie op de kaart. s@p Jaarboek, vol. 15, ’s-Gravenhage, Stichting Archiefpublicaties, 2016.

Best wishes,

For Libault, André. nd. Histoire de la cartographie the AGS Library has a 1959 and a 1962 edition of a book by Libault called just "La cartographie."
oclc no. 09010082 1962

oclc no. 07537718 1959

Don't forget that Worldcat.org ONLY LISTS HOLDINGS OF SUBSCRIBERS. The subscription to said database is REALLY expensive so many special, private, smaller collections have cancelled this service.

To get a true full view, use connexion or another back end access to OCLC holdings.

Dear Matthew,
Here is an answer : LIBAULT André. Histoire de la cartographie. Paris : Chaix, 1959, 88 p.
A review by Crone : The Geographical Journal, 1960. Vol. 126, n°1, p.93.
All best
Jean-Marc Besse

Many thanks to all who've answered. Several things new to me! Let me re-ask the question to ALL:

a) If you were going to recommend a single-volume general history of cartography to a student or friend, today, what would you recommend?

b) If you had recommended such a work in 1980 (assuming you were alive and active), what work would you recommend?

Please keep the notifications coming. I'm sure there are other references out there! Thanks!!


I'm still freaking out about this so I am going to clarify. A subscription to cataloging using OCLC/Connexion is separate from the subscription to WorldCat.org. That's what I mean in my statement above that not all holdings appearing in worldcat.org.

I wonder how many organizations are going to have to drop those subscription forcing OCLC to change their subscription rates.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Two more for you, Matthew. These are rather popular accounts:
Ralph Ehrenberg (2005). Mapping the world: an illustrated history of cartography.
Peter Barber's Map Book (2005). Peter goes through map history almost year by year.

For your bonus questions:
a) I am not sure if I could recommend a specific book, since I do not know about a book that can offer a good combination of historical maps AND map history theory. Maybe John Rennie Short's The World Through Maps may be the one to get close to my needs. Probably I would recommend online archives (Rumsey Collection, LOC, etc.) to choose map examples and use academic articles or select books that address critical history of cartography and how to read historical maps.

b) I like the classics of map history (Bagrow, Brown, Crone) due to the fact that they were telling map stories. The books were not technical and read like fiction, though today we find them Eurocentric and evolutionary (from primitive to modern). That would have been my recommendation if I had been a map scholar in the 1980s. When I started teaching cartography in the late 90s in Brazil, the only available textbook for me was Raisz's General Cartography, translated to Brazilian Portuguese in 1969. I used his chapter on the history of cartography in my classes, especially the complex and detailed drawings for each period.


Hi Angie:

I must admit that I was not previously aware that the worldcat subscription is separate from the OCLC/Connexion ... I always tbought that if you catalogued in the latter then your work appeared in the former!

OCLC subscription rates are exorbitant. I costed out ContentDM for the Osher Map Library's needs and the result was vile, and insufficient quality too!


Hi Matthew,

as an introduction I'd recommend (in this order):

- Jerry Brotton: A history of the world in 12 maps
- Lloyd Brown: The story of maps
- John Noble Wilford: The mapmakers

Since Brown is the only one published pre-1980, that also answers your second question.

Hope you are doing alright.

Gijs Boink
Dutch National Archives