Cartographica Extraordinaire; The Historical Map Transformed

David Rumsey shares details of just some of his amazing collectable maps in this awesome new "coffee table" style book from ESRI Press. Get a history lesson as the pages walk you through the evolution of America from wilderness to civilization. Additionally, you’ll learn about the development of the cartographic sciences. David Rumsey’s collection of historical maps is one of the largest and most complete of its kind. Focused for the most part on North and South America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the collection is comprised of more than 150,000 items: maps, atlases, and contextual supporting documents. Unlike similar collections, the delicacy and rarity of which necessitate careful storage and restricted use policies, The Rumsey Collection is available in its entirety on the Web and it is this conjunction of old and new technologies that is the heart of Cartographica Extraordinaire.

The maps selected for Cartographica Extraordinaire tell a hundred distinct, exciting, important, and sometimes controversial stories, along two main paths of inquiry: how did a continental wilderness become a civilization, and how has the development of cartographic science changed the ways we perceive, describe, study, and use that land?Geographic information systems have come, as part of the digital revolution, to dominate the cartography of today, but GIS didn’t leap into being out of nowhere; all its processes and capabilities have precursors in historical maps. Old maps can therefore tell us not only the stories of their subject matter, but stories about the nature of mapmaking as well: its exigencies and limitations, trends and developments-its theory and practice and what that tells us about the people we were, are, and will be.

"Cartographica Extraordinaire alluringly presents the highlights of a remarkable collection of historical maps. What makes this book stand out from other published map archives, though, is its reflection of the generosity, energy, and intellectual curiosity of David Rumsey. Not satisfied with merely amassing a hoard of handsome old maps, Rumsey, who has already shared his collection with us online, shows us in these breathtaking pages why old maps are so interesting. In the process of telling stories about maps, handsomely reproducing maps, enlarging map details, stitching maps together, and combining maps with the latest digital data, Rumsey and Punt expose us to the joyous disorder of cartophilia."
Allen Carroll, Chief Cartographer, National Geographic Society

More information about the David Rumsey Map Collection can be accessed at

ESRI Press; (March 2004)
ISBN: 1589480449
Purchase at or ESRI Press

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