A Bestiary in Maps?

JF Ptak Science Books   Post 2351

In the history of cartography besides the construction of map-y maps there are maps that stray beyond the strict geographical diction of necessity, some of which edify the data and others which creatively explain or decorate it.  There are unusual maps of hobo travel, the Garden of Eden, Hell, Heaven, moles, hair growth direction, slavery, suffering, invasion routes, time, prisons, aliens, population density, disease, education,  paved roads, trolley, electric lights, sewers, fire damage, and on and on, some of which are created in a way to make the map more identifiable and to also make it, well, fun, or at least more accessible.  Then there are maps whose explication or decoration or alliteration have little to do with the geographical reasons for the map existing in the first place. And this leads us to today’s post.  

I think it certainly possible to assemble a bestiary of maps–maps that take the qualities of an animal, or animals…I’ve seen a number of maps that show distributions of animals without taking their forms, and a lesser number representing a geographical area by an animal, but I do think it is possible to wrangle together not only the bestiary but also nearly an entire alphabet of animal maps.  That will need a little work.  For the start of it we have the following: 

Map--trunk line367

[Source: the Confederate Veteran, volume 11, 1903, page 184.] This needs little comment except to say that it is interesting and that it shows up in an interesting publication.

Next is a great and rare classic, I.W. Moore’s 1833 map incorporating an eagle into the design of the early Republic, from  the Library of Congress (here):

Maps Eagle America

The full text of the book in which it appears here (At Archive.org) and the cumbersome text relating to the map (on pp 244-249) is included below in the notes section.  

There are also the advertisement/comical efforts like the Porcineographic map of the U.S. of 1876:

This porcineograph

And the Russian octopus map,  John Bull and His Friends. A Serio-Comic Map of Europe By Fred W. Rose…printed in 1900, and found at the Yale University Library Digital Collections, here:

Europa c

[With thanks to Mark Dylan Sieber‘s Les Curiosites de Cartes, whose Twitter feed started this interest.]

There are also more maps in a “series” similiar to the Leo Belgicus:

Leo belgicus

[Source: Wikipedia, here.]

And then there’s the mythological part, with Pegasus, with Heinrich Bunting’s  Asia Secunda Pars Terrae In Forma Pegasir (1581):

Maps pegus

[Source: Barry Ruderman’s mapselling blog, here.]

Well, this is a start, anyway, covering Elephant, Lion, Octopus, Eagle, Pig, Horse..  It may be a long haul…




On presenting to the public a map upon the con- 
struction here imperfectly exhibited, if an apology 
be not necessary, perhaps at least, some notice of the 
origin of the idea, and some of the reflections of the 
author upon it, may not be misplaced. 

The first sudden impress of the form of the figure 
upon his attention, was under a combination of pe- 
culiar circumstances. A map of the United States 
happened to hang upon the wall of his apartment, 
upon which a dim lamp light was reflected. The ef- 
fect of the light, in the particular position in which it 
was accidentally placed, seemed, as reflected from the 
various colourings of the map, to cast a shade over 
the state of Maine, and to mark a kind of separation 
between it and the adjoining territory. The close 
connexion of this state, as, always, under a common 
view, necessarily combined with the great general 
ground plan of the Union, he conceives to be the 
principal reason why the notion of the figure has not 
before been apprehended. 

On its first presentation, he was disposed to discard 
the idea, as merely a sportive play of the imaginar 
tion, unworthy of notice. The figure, however, once 
impressed, could not be eflaced from the imagination; 
but was ever afterward in view when his eye happen- 
ed to glance on a map, till he was at length induced 
to give the subject a share of consideration, regarding 
its possible usefulness and moral bearing. 

Arguments which presented in favor of construct- 
ing a map embracing the plan of the figure, appeared 
conclusive with relation to the youth engaged in the 


study of the geography of our country. Those argu- 
ments were founded upon an apprehension of the in- 
creased facility with which lessons may be impressed 
and retained upon the youthful memory, when the 
aid of figure, adapted with a tolerable degree of accu- 
racy to the subject of study, can be resorted to. To 
this opinion it is presumed teachers in general will 
readily yield their accord, without further remark 
upon the questions of Why? or Wherefore? 

When extending his reflections further, the recollec- 
tion was of course present, that the figure of the eagle 
was the figure adopted by our national councils, as our 
national badge. In this point of view, the coincidence 
appeared as a circumstance peculiarly striking. A fur- 
ther singular and surprising coincidence presented it- 
self, in the circumstance that the bird is placed in a 
position perfectly correct, with respect to a corres- 
pondence with the lines of latitude and longitude; no 
variation from the common principles of constructing 
maps being required, to place it in a natural position. 

As the subject has occasionally occupied a further 
extension of thought, a variety of serious moral reflec- 
tions have occurred to the mind of the author, in 
which he is not disposed to anticipate his intelligent 
readers, who are altogether capable of reflecting for 
themselves. He will, therefore, under this head, con- 
tent himself with offering a supposition of a single 
example, illustrative of the manner in which visible 
objects, as they stand associated in the mind with 
ideas of order or deformity, may possibly be more or 
less productive of moral effects. 

If, from a selfish, or misguided policy, the citizens 
of any one state, should propose to separate their in- 
terests from the interests of the Uiiion, and claim a 
right to withdraw from the general connexion, the 
ugly chasm which would be produced by carrying 
their design into effect, would be aptly represented 
by supposing a line of separation drawn round the 
seceding state, and admitting its whole internal de- 
clinations, and even its very name, to be blotted out 


from the eagle map of the United States, — the signs 
and notices, of all the delightful alternations of river, 
mountain, hill, and plain — of cities, the seats of com- 
merce and refinement — of villages, the abodes of in- 
dustry and social enjoyment — of the rural residences 
of friends whom we love — all shrouded, in a shade 
of gloomy, impenetrable darkness — and then observ- 
ing the distortion which would be thus effected, in the 
beautiful figure before us. Thus, might not a moral 
repugnance be strengthened, against the open or in- 
sidious attempts, of artful, designing men, who might, 
for some ignoble or selfish end, be disposed, by de- 
ceiving their fellow citizens, to attempt a disorganiza- 
tion of the republic? 

In the common representations of the eagle as the 
American ensign, an allusion seems to be generally 
intended to a martial spirit; and it is therefore repre- 
sented with an aspect of fierceness, and in an attitude 
prepared for war. Here, on the contrary, having 
possession of the whole country, and no enemy to 
contend with, it is designed to appear as the placid 
representative of national liberty, and national inde- 
pendence; with an aspect of beneficent mildness, and 
in an attitude of peace. 

It is therefore to be conceived of, as having be- 
come wearied and disgusted, with the oppressions, 
perpetual discords, and tyrannizing of power over 
right, prevailing from age to age in the old world, 
and as having, in consequence thereof, taken its flight 
across the western ocean, in search of a resting place; 
where its administration of equal rights might be duly 
appreciated and respected. 

Having arrived at the shores of this western world, 
and taken its aerial circuits with the continent under 
review, it appears as though arresting its flight — its 
wings raised with a graceful, natural, and easy curve, 
as relinquishing their hold on the buoyant atmosphere 
—and its feet extended, as in the act of gently settling 
on the rocks of the Florida reef, to exercise a benign 


presidence over a territory equal to the length and 
l)readth of its own shadow. 

Thus it appears as overshadowing the whole ex- 
tent of the United States and territories, excepting the 
state of Maine, and the home of the natives in the 
distant regions of the west. The citizens of Maine, 
it is presumed, will not be offended at the impossibi- 
lity of comprehending their department in the Union, 
within the regular form of the figure, when we assign 
to it the appellation of the cap of liberty, attached to 
the eagle's head. 

The present small map, is supposed to be sufficient, 
in its internal delineations, to serve the purposes of 
illwstrating the subjects of the volume which it ac- 
companies. It may also serve to impart a fair gene- 
ral idea of the design of the figure. Yet it has not 
the least pretension to showing a specimen of the 
elegance, with which the combined circumstances of 
coincidence of figure, and geographical utility, are 
capable of being represented. By an enlargement of 
the scale alone, the proportions of the figure would 
be presented to the eye, with a general aspect greatly 

It is contemplated to issue, simultaneously with 
the present volume, proposals for publishing by sub- 
scription^ an eagle map of the United States, upon a 
large and liberal scale; to be executed by the ablest 
artists in a superior style; and intended to furnish an 
appropriate ornament, to decorate our halls of legis- 
lation, judicature, literature, and science, with the 
library of the retired gentleman, the office of the law- 
yer, and the retreats of the farmer, manufacturer, and 
merchant. It is conceived that the ornament would 
be likely to be viewed with peculiar interest and gra- 
tification, because of the circumstance of containing, 
in correct proportion, a representation of our beloved 

In the large map proposed, much of the common 
minutia will be omitted in the engraving, in order to 
show the figure with greater advantage and beauty. 


All the most important items, will, however, be re- 
tained, and the place of the smaller supplied by a 
neatly printed and bound accompanying volume of 
references; so arranged, as to render all the usual pur- 
poses of a map of the United States complete. In 
exchange for the omitted minutia, will be engraved, 
the regions of our different mineral and vegetable pro- 
ductions, with various other interesting and ornamen- 
tal delineations, never heretofore presented in similar 

By: Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/1xZE0XG

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