Maps from 1590 through 1776

The map in progress
A year ago at this time, I wrote about a map I was making for Northumberland county, Virginia. The map has been sitting there, idle, ever since while I’ve been off working. If I didn’t have to work, I sure would like to devote more time to this incredibly interesting subject of cartography and map making.

Anyway, I have recently returned to the map. The problem in completing this map has been, of course, the creative part.

It dawned on me last week that the illustration for the bottom of the map, which, if faithful to my father’s idea before he died in 2005, would have been to place a series of historic homes with a description of each. However, he intended to have a series of the same map which progressed over the years from 1600 through the present time. I, on the other hand, am going to make just one version. So the problem becomes one of representing 400 years of history in one map. I finally decided that a good solution might be to place a series of maps across the bottom, advancing through time, and with some significance to the choice of each map.

Ah, pretty good idea. So here is the bottom of the map:

Four very important maps

These are very important maps, as they served as the prototype for many copies until superceded by the next prototype. The first map is by John White in 1590. The second is by John Smith in 1612, The third is by Augustine Herrman in 1673, and the forth is by Josha Fry and Peter Jefferson in 1753. There have been hundreds of maps published for the Chesapeake Bay region, but it is these four maps which were the foundation for all other maps. As for the main large map, I have not decided on a time, but am leaning towards the early 1900’s. I’d like to capture the time when the local Menhaden fleets where emerging, and sailing ships could still be seen on the water.

If you zoom in to these maps, you will see very many interesting details. Here is an example from the Fry and Jefferson map of 1753:


One last interesting technical point I discovered. I scanned the maps in at 300DPI, which is very acceptable for resolution. The funny thing about Adobe Illustrator is that, when I brought them in for trimming, and then saved them, they got saved at 72 DPI even though I specified “maximum” resolution in my “Save For Web…” dialog box. When I brought the images back in, they were fuzzy, of course, at 72 DPI.

I could not find anything that would let me increase this save DPI setting.

No good at all. It took a while, but the solution turned out to be this. When the original 300DPI image is brought in to Illustrator, immediately scale it by 500% before working on it. Then, when you do your cropping and so on, and then save it at the hardcoded 72DPI value, it goes out to the file as a very large image at 72DPI. When you bring it back it later, to include it in any artwork, if you then scale it back down by 20%, it goes back to 300DPI and returns to its original sharp resolution.

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