Synopses & Reviews
Since that ancient day when the first human drew a line connecting Point A to Point B, maps have been understood as one of the most essential tools of communication. Despite differences in language, appearance, or culture, maps are universal touchstones in human civilization.
Over the centuries, maps have served many varied purposes; far from mere guides for reaching a destination, they are unique artistic forms, aides in planning commercial routes, literary devices for illuminating a story. Accuracyandmdash;or inaccuracyandmdash;of maps has been the make-or-break factor in countless military battles throughout history. They have graced the walls of homes, bringing prestige and elegance to their owners. They track the mountains, oceans, and stars of our existence. Maps help us make sense of our worlds both real and imaginaryandmdash;they bring order to the seeming chaos of our surroundings.
With The Curious Map Book, Ashley Baynton-Williams gathers an amazing, chronologically ordered variety of cartographic gems, mainly from the vast collection of the British Library. He has unearthed a wide array of the whimsical and fantastic, from maps of board games to political ones, maps of the Holy Land to maps of the human soul. In his illuminating introduction, Baynton-Williams also identifies and expounds upon key themes of map production, peculiar styles, and the commerce and collection of unique maps. This incredible volume offers a wealth of gorgeous illustrations for anyone who is cartographically curious.and#160;
It's a situation we are all acquainted with: planning to visit friends in an unfamiliar part of the city, you draw yourself arudimentary map with detailed directions. In March 2008, graphic designer Kris Harzinski founded the Hand Drawn Map Association in order to collect just such drawings of the everyday. Fascinated by these accidental records of a moment in time, he soon amassed a wide variety of maps, ranging from simple directions to fictional maps, to maps of unusual places, including examples drawn by well-known historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Shackleton, and Alexander Calder.
From Here to There celebrates these ephemeral documentsusually forgotten or tossed aside after having served their purposegiving them their due as artifacts representing stories from people's lives around the world. There is the young woman suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who created maps of the Humira injections on her stomach and thighs to help her remember the sites, and give them time to heal. Or the young boy who imagined a whole country for ants and put it to paper. Lucas from Australia drew an obsessively detailed map of his local traffic island, and a teenage girl contributed a map of her high school locker. Two American tourists got lost in the Bulgarian mountains following the hand drawn map of a local, and Britanny from Denmark drew directions to an animal rights protest in Copenhagen. The maps featured in From Here to There are as varied and touching as the stories they tell.
We often look to mapmakers in history to be the sober artists, creating tools of conquest and commerce.and#160; But every once in a while, thankfully, humor has infused, leaving a legacy of cartographic curiosities.and#160; There have been maps crafted of sushi and sashimi, maps in the shapes of animals, an olfactory map of Newport, Rhode Island, etc.and#160; And these maps have an avid fan base--with blogs dedicated to Strange Maps, for example.and#160;
This collection is a curation of cartographic curiosities from the British Library collections. The author has unearthed an array of the curious and whimsical, from game maps to maps in human form, to political, moral and religious maps.and#160; The selection is, at times, as idiosyncratic, or personal, as the curious maps themselves. And it is accompanied by discursive captions as well as an introduction that identifies some key themes of map production, curious styles, and the commerce and collection of curious maps.
About the Author
Ashley Baynton-Williamsand#160;is an antiquarian map dealer and researcher based in London and the author of several books.