The New York Public Library has released over 20,000 maps and cartographic works into the public domain. This means they have done a whole lot of scanning and transcribing on our behalf. Due to the elderliness of the publications, they fall outside of copyright legislation and so are available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain licence. This means there are no restrictions on how you use them or what you do with them. Although maps are inherently beautiful, evocative things, what we found even more exciting were some illustrations that were included with the release. These depict landscapes, indigenous cultures, animals and PLANTS. The artistic rendering of the latter are wonderful and fascinating. They don’t have a dusty, archival feel, even though they were produced in the 1600s, many are lively, impressionistic and a spark for anyone’s creativity.
To access the collection, you need to first register with the Library’s Map Warper, an online tool Plant Curator can’t quite get its head around. We think it allows you to take a really old map and locate it on a very new map, so you can see how they match-up. Luckily, it does not need to be fully grasped in order to get to the good stuff. Just do a search on ‘plants’ and when you find something you like, click on the image and download.
Below are some vegetative images we found from a book written in 1671 about a voyage of exploration around the Americas by a certain John Ogilby and his cartographer Arnoldus Montanus.
Jamacaru or the Cactus of Jamaica
Flammans of St. Martin
Trees and animals of Porto Rico Puerto
The Canopia Tree.
Indian art of making the Mandihoka fit for bread (Cassava!)
Trees and animals of Tabago