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.
map01

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map03

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