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Rhumb Lines and Map WarsA Social History of the Mercator Projection$
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Mark Monmonier

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534312

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534329.001.0001

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Wall Maps and Worldviews

Wall Maps and Worldviews

(p.121) 9 Wall Maps and Worldviews
Rhumb Lines and Map Wars
University of Chicago Press

The equatorial Mercator world map is pervasively entrenched in the wall-map trade, although most wall-map catalogs offer world maps on other projections. Wall-map publishers readily embraced the Mercator map's rectangular format, which conveniently matched the straight lines and right angles of the typical wall space. Schoolbooks and classroom atlases also promoted the Mercator worldview. Although both stores offer a broad selection of atlases, hardbound and paperback, many of the books are reconfigured or abridged versions of an earlier, larger edition. Cartographic textbooks treat the Mollweide and sinusoidal projections as “pseudocylindrical” modifications of the plane chart's spartan rectangular framework. Map historians who gleefully celebrate these alleged cartographic contributions to the Cold War might usefully ask whether the map's role is a matter of intrinsic power or merely the convenient availability of diverse designs.

Keywords:   Mercator world map, atlases, Cartographic textbooks, Map historians, cartographic contributions

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