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"But thou at home without or tyde or gale, Canst in thy map securely saile. . . .” In these lines, 17th-century poet Robert Herrick alludes to the role maps play in the exploration and navigation of unfamiliar territory. Focusing on the New World as it was viewed by the British in the 17th and 18th centuries, this exhibition examines the ways in which maps and charts were used to provide information on natural resources and settlements in the New World and to reflect the expansion of the British empire across the globe.

On view here are nautical charts, manuals of instruction in the arts of compass use and oceanic navigation, and decorative maps produced for the commercial market or as cartographic illustration and documentation. These items range from simple black-and-white illustrations of headlands to elaborate maps engraved on copper plates, printed on handmade paper, and hand-colored to perfection, even including one chart printed on vellum and a map printed on cloth.

Curated by Alice C. Hudson, Chief, Map Division.

Unless otherwise indicated, materials in this exhibition are from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection in The New York Public Library’s Map Division.


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