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The Commerce of Cartography

Making and Marketing Maps in Eighteenth-Century France and England

Though the political and intellectual history of mapmaking in the eighteenth century is well established, the details of its commercial revolution have until now been widely scattered. In The Commerce of Cartography, Mary Pedley presents a vivid picture of the costs and profits of the mapmaking industry in England and France, and reveals how the economics of map trade affected the content and appearance of the maps themselves.

Conceptualizing the relationship between economics and cartography, Pedley traces the process of mapmaking from compilation, production, and marketing to consumption, reception, and criticism. In detailing the rise of commercial cartography, Pedley explores qualitative issues of mapmaking as well. Why, for instance, did eighteenth-century ideals of aesthetics override the modern values of accuracy and detail? And what, to an eighteenth-century mind and eye, qualified as a good map?

A thorough and engaging study of the business of cartography during the Enlightenment, The Commerce of Cartography charts a new cartographic landscape and will prove invaluable to scholars of economic history, historical geography, and the history of publishing.

232 pages | 8 color plates, 41 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

The Kenneth Nebenzahl Jr. Lectures in the History of Cartography

Geography: Cartography, Economic Geography

History: General History


"Based on careful analysis and meticulous research, Pedley's study demonstrates the myriad ways in which maps became the eighteenth century's most widely accessible form of geographical knowledge and a much sought-after commodity. . . . Beautifully illustrated and written, Pedley's study of the consumer and economic-driven forces affecting the printed map trade in eighteenth-century France and England takes readers on a very interesting itinerary, too, that leads to a deeper understanding of the increasing commercialization of geographical knowledge during the Enlightenment."

Michael Wolfe | H-France

"A labor of love supported by careful scholarship and a commitment to thoroughness. . . . It will likely remain a seminal study for many years. . . . Highly recommended reading for all with an interest in the history of cartography, the history of graphic arts, eighteenth-century economic and commercial history, and early issues of copyright and privilege in publishing,"

Harry O. Davis | Western Association of Map Libraries Information Bulletin

"A hard book to put down, as it very much brought to life the complex world of the trader, the colorist, the buyer of copper plates. . . . The book, as with any of Pedley’s sterling publications, belongs in any self-respecting research map library, and on the serious map scholar and collector’s personal bookshelf. The Commerce of Cartography is a grand read in itself. . . . Buy this book!"

Alice Hudson | Portolan

"This is one of the finest books in the domain of history of cartography I have come across in the recent past. Informative, extremely well documented, accessible to all on account of its cultivated readability, beautifully produced, a source for further research that will keep you busy for quite a while--let me echo the ultimated conclusion in Alice Hudson’s review of this book in The Portolan . . . ’Buy this book!’"

Wulf Bodenstein | BIMCC Newsletter

"The Commerce of Cartography is an excellent, well-illustrated and thoroughly researched reference that fills a gap in the history of cartography. It is highly recommended to any major library of map collector and sells at a most reasonable price."

Terry Birtles | Journal of Spatial Science

"The writing, while scholarly, is refreshingly free of jargonistic phrases and catchwords. It is unusual to find an academic book that is not only informative, but a good read. The Commerce of Cartography is such a book."

Judith A. Tyner | Cartographic Perspectives

"Pedley’s book is particularly welcome because it puts an important period of map production in its commercial context and does so in an instructive comparative fashion."

Jeremy Black | The Historian

"This well-written, compelling study of the ’business’ of Anglo-French cartography during the Enlightenment charts a new panorama and will prove to be invaluable to scholars of cartography, a variety of historians (especially economic, intellectual, and military), historical geographers, socio-cultural researchers, and persons interested in the history of printing and publishing. . . . In qualitatively assessing the relationships between the evolution of commercial cartography and economics, Pedley uncovers all facets of cartographic art and science--compilation, production, marketing, consumption, and criticism--in a single fascinating compendium.""

Charles C. Kolb | Historical Geography

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Monetary Units
List of Abbreviations
Part I: Making Maps
Chapter One: Getting to Market
Chapter Two: The Costs of Map Production
Part II: Selling Maps
Chapter Three: Getting and Spending
Chapter Four: Plagiarism and Protection
Chapter Five: Multiplying Maps: The Survey and Printed Charts of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
Part III: Evaluating Maps
Chapter Six: Giving Pleasure to the Public: Telling Good from Bad

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