Carte de la Nouvelle Angleterre

Created by Jacques Nicholas Bellin, the French mapmaker associated with explorer James Cook’s voyages—the Carte de la Nouvelle Angleterre is one of the earliest maps of New England. The ornate frame around the map’s title—termed a cartouche—is a stylistic staple of European mapmakers, according to Jeanloz, and the overall aesthetic of the map speaks to the artistic flair many early maps featured since, as there were few map design standards in the days of kings and explorer voyages.

Time Lapse & Cape Maps

Studying this early map provides insight into the interesting geographic aspects of New England that were of interest in the mid-1700s. “At this time, Cape Cod was really more of an obstacle than a destination,” Zaremba says. The rivers on this map are oversized, representing their significance in transportation during this period, and the mountain ranges—which made travel west of the Appalachian Range very difficult—are heavily stylized. Close inspection reveals the process used to make the map: the image carved into a copper or steel plate, then inked and stamped on thin, fabric-like laid paper. Most maps were made for books and were folded down the center, Zaremba says. As a result, the ink from the Appalachian Range transferred to the opposite side of this map, appearing as a faint reflection in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Ashley Owen is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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