1. Intersections of Manuscript and Print

Any student who has written in a textbook knows that print and manuscript practices are not completely distinct, but they can intersect cartographically in several ways.

First, all printed maps begin as hand-drawn originals that guide the preparation of the printing surfaces. Item 1 is an original manuscript, prepared for an engraver in Philadelphia, complete with specific instructions (“engrave to this line”); item 2 is the printed result. On occasion, instructions needed to be given to the engraver in the middle of the preparation of a printing plate: item 3 shows how the contents of decorative frames had to be laid out only once the frames had been engraved.

Second, people occasionally annotate printed maps, perhaps to update an old map with new information [item 5]. Annotations could be so extensive that the result was effectively an entirely new work: on item 4, for example, Dutch speculators interested in buying up frontier lands in the young United States outlined and described several large grants for potential investment.

Third, the manuscript/print relationship is inverted by the inclusion of printed maps within larger manuscript documents such as government reports or personal letters [item 6].


1. “Castine Village” (ca. 1881)

Manuscript, 38cm x 48cm

Osher Collection


2. Castine Village

From George N. Colby, Atlas of Hancock County Maine (Philadelphia, Pa., and Ellsworth, Me.: S. F. Colby, 1881), pl. 43

Hand-colored lithograph, 33cm x 41cm

Osher Collection


3. Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703–1772)

Carte de l’Amérique septentrionale (Paris, 1755)

Printer’s proof of a copper engraving, 55.5cm x 86cm, with Bellin’s manuscript edits in both cartouches (lettering and scale bars) and to some place names

Osher Collection


4. Thomas Hutchins (1730–1789)

Part of A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina (London, 1778)

Hand-colored copper engraving, 85cm x 104cm, with extensive manuscript annotations made after 1790

Osher Collection

This map was annotated (in French) with brief notes recording Russian territorial annexations in Karelia (southeastern Finland: “à la Russe”), after a 1743 treaty, and in Crimea (“La Crimée à la Russe 1784”).


5. Justus Danckerts (1635–1701)

Novissima et accuratissima totius Russiae vulgo Muscoviae tabula (Amsterdam, between 1688 and 1727)

Hand-colored copper engraving, 48cm x 56cm, with manuscript annotations

OML Collection


6. Letter from “Arthur” to "My dear sister" (Springfield, Mass., 20 August 1896)

Two leaves (fols. 1v and 9r) from a manuscript letter in twelve leaves, 28cm x 21cm, about a recent holiday taken in Kennebunkport, with multiple printed images and maps pasted in.

OML Collection