Maps and Town Plans of Scotland
Maps and Town Plans of Wales
Maps and Town Plans of Ireland
Parliamentary Reform Surveys of England & Wales
Maps of The Americas
Maps of Australia & Oceania
World Maps, Polar Regions & Celestial
Collections by Cartographer, Publisher or Theme
Mapseeker Historic Map Collection
Select from the following map categories:
- Maps of the British Isles
The expression "British Isles" is geographical and not political. They are a group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe consisting of Great Britain, the whole of Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Islands, Lundy Island, the Channel Islands and many other smaller islands. In this collection we will include some of the early maps and sea charts for these islands, many dating back many hundreds of years. Some are colourfully illustrated with cartouches and artistic endeavour. The British Isles have captured the attention of some of the most famous early cartographers from the 1500s and 1600s
- English County Maps
In this section we will be building a comprehensive collection of English County Maps, for each of the counties of England that are today a combination of historic shires and counties and have been subject to many boundary changes over the course of history. In medieval times, a county was the realm of a Lord. A County Palatine was a county in which the Lord held particular rights in lieu of the monarch, for example the right to pardon those found guilty of treason or murder. Shires were formed in Anglo-Saxon times for the purpose of raising taxes. These had fortified strongholds at their centres which became the shire or county towns of today. Many well known and not so well known cartographers will be represented, from the early pioneering fathers of cartography and down through the centuries to the last of the beautifully illustrated county maps of the 19th century.
- English Town Plans
A town has its own economy with goods being made and traded. Preferred sites for establishment might have been therefore on a bend of a river or besides a river crossing. The more ancient and well established towns were mapped by the early cartographers of the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of our now well established cities and towns grew rapidly over the last two centuries, great planning was needed so many town plans were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries that give us a fascinating insight into such historic periods in our nation's growth. However there are over 15,000 towns and villages across the many counties so over the last 10 years we have started producing a series of Victorian Maps centred on of some of the smaller towns and villages. The aim is to give even more people the opportunity to discover how their towns and villages looked during that time of great social and economic change. This section is organised with alphabetical sub categories for the name of the town or village to be represented.
- Maps of Major British Cities
Our Maps of Major British Cities are a collection of British town and city plans dating back hundreds of years. The Maps of Major British Cities available can provide an interesting and valuable resource into people’s lives and heritage. Over the centuries London's position as the largest city has never been in any doubt; however it is no surprise that cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool did not feature in the earliest town plans of the 1500's and 1600's as they did not make the top forty rankings based on the Hearth Tax figures back in 1662. The reasons for their dramatic growth are all part of their individual heritage, these fascinating maps and plans will enable you to explore that journey.
- Maps and Town Plans of Scotland
Our Maps of Scotland are representing a collection of County Maps, Coastal Surveys, and Scottish Town Plans dating back hundreds of years. The Maps of Scotland available can provide an interesting and valuable resource for people researching their Scottish Ancestry exploring the historic lands of the famous Scottish Clans.
- Maps and Town Plans of Wales
In this Maps of Wales section we are building a collection of maps plans and surveys depicting the whole of Wales as well as the Welsh Counties, Welsh Coastal Charts and Welsh Town Plans. The Maps of Wales available can provide an interesting and valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Wales, its people and rich heritage.
- Maps and Town Plans of Ireland
In this collection are several maps from the College Atlas by H.G. Collins published in 1852, including: North America, South America and the United States. The oldest map in this collection is the map of British North America, published by John Arrowsmith in 1844. This map is particularly interesting as Alaska is shown as Russian America. The United States purchased Alaska from the Russians in 1867. It also shows California as part of Mexico. Mexico eventually ceded California to the United States, becoming the 31st state of the union in 1850.
- Parliamentary Reform Act Surveys
This collection has been reproduced from the original plans contained in three volumes being the reports from commissioners on the proposed division of counties and boundaries of boroughs, ordered by The House of Commons to be printed, 20th January 1832. A total of 178 City and Borough Plans were produced that appear in the published volumes. In addition Robert Dawson produced a separate plan for the London Metropolitan Boroughs that was not contained within the published volumes.
- Nautical Charts and Coastal Surveys
A nautical chart is a graphic representation of a maritime area and adjacent coastal regions. It shows details of the coastline, water depths, navigational hazards and manmade structures such as harbours, bridges and buildings. By the end of the 17th century the Dutch were the masters of the sea and produced the best nautical charts in the world. Samuel Pepys, then secretary of the Navy under King Charles II, appointed Captain Greenvile Collins, a Trinity House Pilot, to chart the British coastline. In 1693 “Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot “was published. This contained 48 beautiful charts of the coastline of the British Isles of which some areas had never previously been mapped. This collection contains many of these charts, each faithfully reproduced working from the antique original.
- Maps of Europe
In the Maps of Europe section we have many maps and city plans representing the countries that make up this continent. Maps in the collection have been produced by a wide range of cartographers over several hundred years. With the invention of the printing press in Germany there was a profusion of local and regional maps produced during the 15th century. Nuremburg is also famous for its globes. The famous Ptolomy's Geographia was printed in 1482 at Ulm by Martin Walseemuller. Many of the famous cartographers of this time were German. The collection will feature a number of maps of the many countries representing this continent. War and conflict has effected many changes to the size, shape and borders of these countries not forgetting actual names of countries. By comparing maps of these individual countries at varies times in their history you can chart this significant change.
- Maps of Asia
This section contains a growing collection of Maps of Asia; including China, Japan and India. The Maps of Asia available can provide an interesting and valuable insight into the ancient continent. The Catalan map, drawn on skin and produced in 1375 by Spanish navigators with information from missionaries and Marco Polo's travels gave us our first view of the size and shape of Asia. Ptolomy's Atlas contained 12 maps of Asia copied and improved on by Waldsemuller in 1513. As travel increased, so the maps of Asia improved and gradually countries, especially the Indian sub continent and the Indies took recognizable shape. An 18 sheet map of China was made by P’ei Hsui in the 1st century AD.
- Maps of Africa
The African maps collection covers a very large area and time period. Historical maps of Africa were created by many different cartographers over the centuries. Older African maps, like the petroglyph maps, found in the Sahara Desert and Southern Africa, were the 1st printed representations of northern Africa, drawn by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century AD, dominated European ideas about African geography until Portuguese explorers redrew the continent's coastal profile during the Renaissance.
Maps of The Americas in our collection include American state maps, maps of Canada, North America, South America and North American town and city plans. Also included in Maps of The Americas are the West Indies and the Caribbean, with some maps dating back to the 16th century. Most of the early Maps of The Americas were manuscript such as that by Juan de la Cosa (c.1500), who sailed with Columbus on his first and second voyages. This is the earliest surviving world map to show the New World and the Caribbean. The Portuguese 'Cantino' map of 1502 reflects the rivalry between the European maritime nations over 'the wealth of the Indies'. The Americas, including British North America, now Canada are featured. As British imperialism spread in the 18th century the map-making industry improved, and many large scale maps of British possessions were produced such as Barbados by William Mayo (1722), Antigua by Robert Baker (1748-49) and Jamaica by Patrick Browne (1755). These show in detail sugar plantations and property ownership. Later John Tallis included (1850’s) many fine examples with pictorial illustrations.
- Maps of Australia and Oceania
This collection contains both maps of Australia, Tasmania and Maps of New Zealand, the last of the great continents to be explored by modern civilisation. Many great cartographers made their contributions; some were explores of this continent themselves. Although Europeans did not discover Australia - a flourishing Aboriginal culture already existed there - they were the driving force behind the mapping of the continent. Europeans imagined land in the southern hemisphere long before it was seen by explorers. The unknown continent gradually changed as more land was charted and the real shape of the Australian continent began to emerge.
- World Maps, Polar Regions and Celestial Maps
We have many World Maps & Maps of Polar Regions within this section. The World Maps cover a very large range of time scales and are presented in a variety of styles, showing an evolution of techniques and approaches. Some of the later maps provide a wealth of information about our World and how it has evolved through time. As well as being informative they present some of the most artistic, beautiful creations produced.
- Collections by Cartographer or Publisher
In this section we are building collections by some of the famous cartographers and publishers that originally created the many fascinating, thought provoking gateways to our historic past. Many will be represented, from the early pioneers of map making down to the late Victorians, each offering their own unique interpretation, style and artistic blend.