Novelty Globes: 1578 Italian Replica Globe Bar

A couple of years in an article about the phantom island of Hy-Brasil, I mentioned an item that has been a longtime presence in the actual basement this website is named for: a replica 16th-century Italian globe/mini-bar. From the outside, it looks like an old globe (if you ignore the rolling cart wheels on the…

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Johann Christoph Homann’s 1730 Map of Asia

The map you see above is a 1730 maps of Asia produced by the German cartographer Johann Christoph Homann, scion of the famous early 18th century cartographer Johann Baptist Homann (click on the map to expand to its full size of 4000 x 3492). Its full title? The rather convoluted Recentissima Asiae Delineatio: Qua Imperia,…

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Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibola

‘Quivira regna’(‘Quivira Kingdom’) and ‘Ceuola’(Cibola), highlighted in green as displayed on a replica late 16th century globe.  Note the errant placement of Quivira well to the northwest of Cibola. Myths of lost cities of gold were a staple of early European exploration in the western hemisphere, particularly among Spanish explorers looking to stumble upon New…

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California City and Environa: Invisible Metropolises

At the intersection of geographical curiosity and failed urban planning lies California City.  Anyone who’s browsed Google Maps in the Mojave Desert just north of Los Angeles has likely noticed the massive street grid lying in the middle of nowhere, producing the illusion of a city of hundreds of thousands of people that quickly fades…

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Ortelius’ Septentrionalium regionum descrip. (1570)

Septentrionalium regionum descrip. (Northern region described), published in 1570 as part of Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.  Click on map to expand (6044 x 4506). The 16th century Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius was a true pioneer of cartography and of geographic thought.  In 1596, he would be one of the first geographers to posit the…

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1891 Stielers Handatlas Nord-Polar-Karte

Click image to expand (5099×4250). Above is the sixth plate of the 95-plate 1891 Hand-Atlas über alle Theile der Erde und über das Weltgebäude, better known as simply Stielers Handatlas (8th ed.). Although printed periodically since 1758, the Stieler atlases recorded their greatest renown in the late 19th and early 20th century, beginning with the tenure…

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Karte von Amerikanischen Polynesien, 1859

Click the map to expand (2034 x 1564). While writing the other article posted today on the subject of the International Date Line, I was reminded of the above map, which dates back to a copy of August Heinrich Petermann’s Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen journal from 1859.The German-language map is of ‘American Polynesia’, as the islands…

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The Phantom Island of Hy-Brasil (The Brazil That Wasn’t)

One of the items that has been a stalwart feature for the past three decades-and-change of the very basement this website is named after is a replica 16th-century Italian globe/mini-bar. From the outside, it looks like an old globe (if you ignore the rolling cart wheels on the bottom) featuring a copy of an Italian map…

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Crocker Land: Last of the Phantom Islands

We live in a satellite age; for the most part, we can look at any part of the world’s surface at any time and find what we’re looking for. While the slow-but-constant process of time changes our landscape and always requires changes to maps, the general outline of the world’s landmasses are fairly well-mapped at…

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