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Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1860$
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Martin Brückner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469632605

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469632605.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

Self-Made Spectacles

Self-Made Spectacles

The Look of Maps and Cartographic Visualcy

(p.200) Chapter 6 Self-Made Spectacles
Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1860

Martin Brückner

University of North Carolina Press

During the same period when American-made maps began to circulate in the public and private spheres, much of the impetus for recognizing maps as a form of spectacle was generated internally from within the maps’ signs, symbols, and inscriptions. Drawing on several hundred American maps, in particular wall maps, this chapter delineates design choices made by successive generations of commercial mapmakers who transformed maps into unique communication platforms intended for the simultaneous transmission of cartographic and noncartographic information. It shows that maps freely borrowed from a visual stock of signs, images, and graphic designs available in a media landscape that included small paintings, large street signs, and the decorative arts. Contending that American mapmakers constructed large and small maps by tapping a common visual literacy, this chapter offers a comprehensive morphology of American map designs, in the course of which it demonstrates a compositional logic linking maps as unique media platforms to nascent expectations about image legibility and commercial visual culture.

Keywords:   map meaning, pictorialism, paratext, thematic maps, cartouche designs, map borders, visualcy, Thomas Jefferys, Henry S. Tanner, Robert P. Smith

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