Stealing A Part Of History As Depicted In Maps


It today’s digital age, it has become relatively easy for anyone to download a digital map through a smartphone. It is certainly odd to hear for anyone to steal a map. However, map stealing does not seem to be so strange when it concerns historical maps that show the past and how the world was before us. Stealing antique maps can be financially profitable considering the stories they tell about our past.

Michael Blanding, an investigative journalist and author tells a very interesting story through his book The Map Thief. The book is about Forbes Smiley III who was a rare map dealer that was able to steal approximately $3 million worth of antique maps before he was apprehended in 2005. Aside from the exploits of the map thief, the book includes stories about the maps and what they meant to their owners.

Centuries ago, maps told tales and reveal much of humanity and history. People thought that the world was smaller then and that life only evolved around their country. They thought that their country was the center of the world and thus positioned themselves accordingly.

In the creation of antique maps, illustrators showed what was known or suspected of the world at any given point and provided landmarks in aid of exploration. If you will compare the ancient maps with the more recent paper maps distributed to motorists, you will notice how things have changed. For example, an ancient map of Iowa will show railroad routes that no longer exist today. The ancient maps show us a glimpse of history which is very valuable for scholarly knowledge because they are not only detailed but carefully and beautifully illustrated.

Our generation today has exposed us to digital maps that can be efficiently downloaded from the web. However, Illustrated Maps are designed to tell stories aside from being a tool for navigation. Illustrated Maps highlight landmarks and buildings, well known streets and businesses so that the motorist will have a sense of place. Map illustrators provide a panoramic view of a certain place you will be visiting using creative art for a more aesthetically pleasing reference.

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