Sea Monsters


I think I’ll take a moment away from talking about surveys and book structures to share one of the greatest things I found while looking through the maps in this collection. Before modern cartography, it was a common practice to decorate the water on maps with illustrations of dolphins and other sea creatures. Judging from engravings that appear in other parts of the collection, I think a lot of these sea monsters are actually the artist’s interpretation of sharks and whales. Considering first hand accounts of large sea creatures were probably just a glimpse of teeth or a tail – it’s really no wonder that a lot of these things end up looking more like dogs or dragons.

One particular volume in the collection – a 1586 text by Lucus Janszoon Waghenaer titled Speculum Nauticum – is in wonderful condition and is absolutely filled with maps featuring these sea monsters. I really enjoyed these things, so I’m inserting a few images of them below. This volume is not all that much younger than the Carta marina, and while these particular monsters aren’t as colorful, they are just as fascinating.








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