Tag Archives: map of north pole

Fantasizing about the Earth’s Poles

travel decor map art

Map of the Polar Regions, 1690.

This map shows how people thought the Polar Regions looked before there were explored. The North Pole is marked Pole Septentrional Arctique on this map. Septentrional means “North” and the name is derived from the seven stars of the Big Plough constellation. It is clear from the map that the northern coast of Greenland, Svalbard and other islands in the Arctic Ocean were yet to be explored and mapped. The area around the South Pole on this map is captured as “Terra Magellanique Australis”, with Australis meaning south and Magellanique referring to the Portuguese explorer Fernando Magellan who explored the southern passage between Antarctica and Southern America. It was sometimes also called Terra Australis Incognita (The unknown land of the South), The Cold Land or Megallonica and it was a mythical land. Its existence was not based on any direct exploration, but rather on the theory that the land mass to the north should be balanced by a similar mass to the south. The Antipodes of Paris is marked on the map. This map is beautifully illustrated with pictures from Greek mythology. For example, there is the Horn of Plenty in the bottom left corner.

To touch the spirit of Antarctica, read Sara Wheeler’s “Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica”.

Buy restored reproduction of this map printed on a high quality handmade paper here.

The Quest for the Northwest Passage Continues

arctic vintage map reproduction

Map of the North Pole and the Adjoining Regions of Europe, Asia and North America, 1803.

This map shows the Arctic region in the early 19th century. Whereas the northernmost parts of Europe and Russia had already been well mapped when the map was first released in 1803, the northern coastline of North America is only marked by a dotted line suggesting the probable position of the coastline.

The Northwest Passage that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had been quested for centuries; there had been a number of voyages in the area aiming to explore the passage. The explorers Robert Bylot, Henry Hudson, and William Baffin mapped a large part of what is now eastern Canada in the early 17th century. Another important step in mapping this area was done by Samuel Hearne who was the first European to cross northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean shore in 1774. A more detailed mapping of the region, however, did not take place until the mid-19th century and it was not until 1903 – one hundred years after this map was printed – that the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen set off on his voyage to be the first human in recorded history to complete the Northwest Passage.

The remoteness and the complicated access to the region are clearly described in Samuel Hearne’s memoirs: “A Journey to the Northern Ocean: the Adventures of Samuel Hearne“.

Buy restored reproduction of this map printed on a high quality handmade paper here.