Query: Help identify Ruysch map facsimile

Angie Cope's picture

At the American Geographical Society Library at UW Milwaukee, we came across this map (https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agdm/id/30908/rec/1) and are hoping to identify publication details about it.

In addition, there is a note in the bottom right saying the map is "autographed" by someone - can anyone help identify that name?

This clearly is some kind of a facsimile but by who and from which publisher? Can anyone help answer these questions?

Thanks in advance for your help all!

The name is not clear to me. Perhaps the first name is Jno for Jonathan? A librarian somewhere?

The term "autographed" might refer to a technology to reproduce photographs called "autotype" (a carbon print process).

I do not think that this was a commercially published facsimile, but a one-off copy as commonly made by libraries for researchers

At center-right I see a string of cyrillic characters, inverted because on the verso? What might they mean?

hope this helps


It appears that the American Philosophical Society has owned a copy of this map (or one similar to it) since at least 1863:



They have identified the signature as "Jno Farden" (I'm not sure that's correct, but I also wasn't seeing any obvious alternatives).

Matthew, I might be mistaken, but I think the string of characters you refer to on the verso is "TRIPLICATE."

What about John (Boyd) Thacher, member of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, book collector and author of books on the discovery of America? The facsimile of Ruysch's map was published the same year of the Exposition; a coincidence?

Wouter Brracke

I would agree with Mr Miller. And given that it is a triplicate and has a Library of Congress stamp, perhaps they might have some information. They do have assorted copies/versions.

Looks like 'Jno Parker' to me, 'Jno' being a common abbreviation of 'John'. Is it coincidental that the map is mentioned in this book on the same page as John Parker (editor of 'Merchants and Scholars', 1965), who was curator of the James Ford Bell Collection at the University of Minnesota?


Yes, when reversed using Photoshop, the text on the right edge is the word: TRIPLICATE. The reversed text in the lower left corner is a Library of Congress stamp with the year 1944 over the word DUPLICATE over the word EXCHANGED. Based on these stamps, this item moved via some sort of exchange around 1944/1945. But that doesn’t say much about where/when it arrived to the Library of Congress, just when it departed.

I think the most useful clue is the U.S.C. & G. Survey Library and Archives stamp on the top middle and the number 2038. The U.S. National Archives offers a finding aid for the “Records of the Coast and Geodetic Survey [CGS]“ at https://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/023.html with this sub-entry:

23.4.3 Cartographic records

Maps and Charts (2,600 items): Library and Archives Map Collection, consisting of maps and charts used as source material, 1844-1945 (2,300 items). Supplementary maps and charts, including blueprints, 1911-36 (300 items). SEE ALSO 23.6.

Unfortunately, this above list of maps and charts is not online, but I would think 2038 would be found there with more details about the origin of this map. Maybe the name of “Jno” as MHE suggests might be resolved there as well?



I spent a bit of time yesterday looking again at this map with Louie -- I am amused at the failure of my brain to read the verso stamp as "triplicate"; and with the LC stamp gives a definite immediate origin of the map, but not its pesky ultimate origin.

Note also at top center is an indication of where the LC got this impression of the facsimile, as a transfer from the US Coast & Geodetic Survey library (so acquired/cataloged by the survey after its 1878 name change). Just to the left of the USCGS stamp one can see a verso pencil mark: which flipped and enlarged seems to read "2nd state." (2nd state of the Ruysch map or of the facsimile?) Thanks to J G Kohl, the USCGS was interested in the history of the discovery of the coasts of the USA, so it makes sense that they acquired this facsimile (before letting it go, perhaps when much of their Kohl material was sent to the State Dept. and to the LC).

I think it's clear the first name of the person responsible is "Jno" - John or Jonathan. The last name is a puzzle: it's first letter has a somewhat different formation than the capital 'f' of "Fac Simile": the upper loop on the ascender seemly formed but the lower loop/bowl were written in different directions, backwards/to the left in "Fac" and forwards/to the right in the last name. And the latter has the cross stroke required of an F, albeit with a bit more flourish and verve than the constrained and rather rigid cross-stroke on the f in Fac. So, given the similarities and differences, I think it is an F, just with an easier construction than the F in Fac, as might perhaps be expected in a more personal, signature style rather than the more formal title. Definitely all the same hand.

Yesterday, with Louie, I too suggested that the last name could be Parker, but then I think I have just argued against that. And I can't see how the last name could start with Th..., as much as John Boyd Thacher might make sense as an historian of discovery active in the period this facsimile was created, as Wouter suggests.

I initially replied to this query on the fly, as it were. I dug around last night and reminded my self that "autograph" has two distinct meanings. The common one is for one's signature (Googling "autograph reproduction" thus produces a huge and immensely tedious list of hits!). The other is a fairly generic term used for auto-matic writing/description (-graphy). Alois Senefelder talked about "autography" as a lithographic process. One might draw/write directly on the stone, wrong-reading so that when printed the image would be right-reading. A second and probably easier process, is to draw/write right-reading with a greasy pencil on pre-prepared "transfer paper"; place the paper on the stone and press to transfer the image to the stone as a wrong-reading image for printing. This second process is what Senefelder called "autography" and the term has since been used to refer to any process by which an image—a map, a drawing, a page of text—might be transferred to a lithographic stone or zinc plate for exact reproduction without any human mediation/alteration in the image.

(Interestingly, the APS catalog record to which Louie linked [http://amphilsoc.org/guides/rog/rogprintedmaps2.htm] confuses the two meanings of "autograph" in its note: "Facsimile. Contains facsimile autograph of John Farden."

So, is John Farden the craftsman who accomplished the autographing of the Ruysch map, or the scholar who commissioned the facsimile? The APS metadata, as Louie's other link indicates, goes back to the APS's published catalog (part 1) of 1863; the presumption is that in identifying the last name as "Farden" then the APS cataloger might have drawn on other information or could simply read (or think they could read) the scrawl produced by a "bad fist" more competently than us moderns.

1863 is very early in the study of map history. The priority of the Ruysch map as the "first printed map" to show the new world goes back to Baron Walckenaer in 1812. I have not encountered a "John/Jonathan Farden" as an historian of discovery in that (or any) era, so I imagine he's someone who made some kind of photographically transferred image. The precise process needs to be determined; but assuming its a transfer to litho or zinc, and then having to mirror-write the authentication statement on the stone/plate, might well account for the variation in the formation of his Fs.

Overall, I think the best avenue to pinning down the history of this facsimile is to explore the history of the study and use of the Ruysch map and see if anyone mentions the facsimile -- has to be before whenever it was that someone found the same map in one or more copies of the 1507 Rome Ptolemy and began to date the map to 1507 rather than 1508.


As a follow up, as well as contacting APS you'll want to contact the Wisconsin Historical Society. It appears they also have a copy (or something similar) to what you have, check out the notes field:


The Bell Library has a hand-colored copy of the map, not a facsimile, and this is not a facsimile of our copy.

Curator, James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota

[I'm posting this on behalf of John Cloud, expert on the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS) library and its history]

The American Geographical Society Library (AGSL) map has been truncated on the bottom and right. Any C&GS map in the Library and Archives Collection of that era would have had a glued stamp, with either a red or blue border, in the lower right hand corner, with the most critical "ID" written inside the border. The "ID" would include the region of the world, using the C&GS' modified Cutter system number, which was limited to three digits, prioritizing states and territories, etc. but not any more fine-grained. Words within the border would constitute the map's "name". "World maps" get dodgy with the modified Cutter system, which was designed to "bin" smaller specific areas.

You can see the C&GS blue crayon comment has been cut off-- that also indicates that the map was cut. The 4 digit shelf number is largely meaningless-- it referenced an actual shelf where the map was put once, but it could have been moved repeatedly. And there is no index to shelf numbers, anywhere.

It's hard to say when the C&GS map was transferred to Library of Congress (LOC). Possibly 1912-14, when President Taft's Commission on Economy and Efficiency in Government ordered C&GS to purge thousands of "old maps" to LOC, which then later re-distributed many maps to other institutions. Hence a copy came to the AGSL. The 'triplicate' stamp on the back is meaningful in this sense, possibly.

As to the autograph, etc.: I have no idea. Seemingly done by a person whose aspirations exceeded his penmanship.

Matthew Edney

For those interested in tracking the Library of Congress reference (although this may not help Angie), the library holds two late 19th-century reproductions:

The LOC catalogue record for one of its uncolored copies of the map (G3200 1508) indicates that a facsimile was produced in 1893 for volume 5 of the National Geographic Magazine.  See Gardiner G. Hubbard, "Discoverers of America.  Annual Address by the President," The National Geographic Magazine V, April 7, 1893, 1-20. The Ruysch map is one of several map reproductions, and the only foldout. It appears between pp. 18-19 (Version archive.org without map/ Googlebooks with map), with the map title written in manuscript by an earlier hand.

The map was also reproduced in Nordenskiöld's Facsimile-Atlas to the early history of cartography... translated from the Swedish original by Johan Adolf Ekelöf ... and Clements R. Markham....Stockholm : [Printed by P.A. Norstedt & Söner], MDCCCLXXXIX.  (LOC record)

-- Jordana Dym

Thank you EVERYONE for your assistance with this question. I checked with the Wisconsin Historical Society, which has a copy on the oclc record 12876011. WHS updated one of the notes in their local OPAC to indicate that the autograph is not manuscript but part of the facsimile. Susan Krueger, from WHS, sent me photos of her copy and it is a match to ours although our sizes are a little off. She said WHS acquired their copy in 1930 from LOC.

I did contact the American Philosophical Society (which listed the map in an 1863 cartobibliography) and I've asked them to check if their copy has that autograph as facsimile or manuscript. Joe DiLullo is the person I'm working with there.

Even if Joe replies that his is a facsimile, it only tells us that the item is a facsimile from 1863 or earlier. Right?

Such a mystery.


-- Angie Cope