When you look at an illustrated map, one of the questions that come to mind is what the artist wants to accomplish. How did illustrated map services create the map and what is the message that the artist wants to communicate to the viewer? Is the goal to persuade or simply tell a story?
According to Matthew Edney, a scholar of cartography at the University of Southern Maine, a viewer may experience a sense of thrill when viewing a fun and complex illustrated map. Illustrated maps usually transport the viewer to a realm of pure fantasy. A lot of things are going on but the map easily communicates ideas and influences beliefs.
It is easier to be lost on a detailed map of a place even if it shows features according to strict scale. It is very difficult to relate to the traditional map and you cannot imagine being inside the landscape. However, they are designed for the purpose of navigation.
Atlas Obscura has recently asked Edney and PJ Mode, a map aficionado including curators and other map collectors to share their maps to viewers. One of the maps that was shared was the “Wonderground Map of London” from 1927. The illustrated map was jam-packed with attractions that can be accessed from different Underground stations.
“The Mystery Map of Assinine Atoll” dates back to 1977. Edney describes the map as surreal in its pure and simple fascination. Meanwhile, the “France in Kilometres “map shows the kilometric distances of railway networks in 1906. A viewer can spend several hours tracing the winding routes of France’s railways.
The 1905 illustrated map of New Hampshire landscape created by George H. Walker Co. is lush and alluring. It highlights places across the state that will be attractive to middle-class tourists. The map will make you wish you can walk, fly and swim all at once.
With the advances in lithography, illustrated map services were able to create larger and more detailed illustrated maps. Map illustrations became popular because they are unique advertising tools that can lure people to a certain place. The illustrated map shows the beauty of the environment and all its attractions.