Map of the Southern Coast of Brittany /Bretagne, 1693.
This map brings us to the end of 17th century when Brittany fully benefited from its strategic position between Spain, Britain and the Netherlands and played a leading role in France’s naval expansion – Bretons constituted an important component of the French Navy and contributed to the colonisation of the New France and the West Indies.
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How had paper been made prior to the early 19th century? The original material for paper making was old rags, in particular linen and hemp rags; cotton rags imported from the colonies were used later too. The rags were put in water for a period of several weeks, until the textile fell apart into individual fibres. Next, this mass was milled, diluted and put on a fine sieve which determined the size of the resulting paper sheet. The superfluous water ran off and the wet paper sheet was overturned onto a piece of felt. Several sheets of papers and felts were layered on each other and the pile was then pressed with a hand press to get rid of more water. The pressed sheets were dried and then soaked into glue in order to improve the characteristics of the paper’s surface (so the printer’s ink didn’t blur on the sheet). Glued sheets were transported back to the drying room. As a last step of the papermaking process, the sheets’ surface was smoothened in a simple machine that functions similarly to a mangle. Very often the final sheets had the mark of the manufacturer that had produced them.
The history of paper production is very long. The Chinese produced paper made of hemp as early as 3000 B.C.E. They later added linen as material too, and papermaking gradually spread to the Middle East. From there the Arabs brought paper to Europe; the first European paper mill is dated around the 11th century in southern Spain.
The enormous development of papermaking started hand in hand with the invention of book printing in the mid-15th century. Before that maps and books were copied by hand, which was such a time-consuming process that it did not allow publishing of the books and maps in larger volumes. Book printing changed this all dramatically. It allowed an almost unlimited number of copies and information of all kinds began to spread fast. Maps became easier to access, which played an important role during the Age of Discovery and the subsequent colonization of the discovered territories.
Norway was in a Union with Sweden at the time this map was released. While the Swedish king was the head of Norway, the country remained fully autonomous. In the second half of the 19th century, the Norwegian shipping and textile industry underwent a large boom.
Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire at that time. However, the situation there was similar to its Western neighbours – large investment was made into all sectors of the economy. The famous Finnish company NOKIA was already four years old at the time this map was printed. Unlike today, NOKIA was actually a wood processing company back in 1875.
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