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Jul 20, 2011

Correcting James Cook's Map of the World 1784

Captain James Cook FRS RN (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779)

It is interesting to study how close to the truth James Cook actually was 1784 with his new map of the World.

Captain Cooks Map of the World, c. 1784

In the following picture the correct shore line is laid over the Cook's map. Blue arrows show the largest mistakes in the map. At that time the Antarctica was not yet known and it was assumed to be the Antarctic Ocean all together. Australia was called "New Holland" and it's west coast was shifted 300 km west. Similar shift can be detected with Central African west coast but 400 km east. Island's east coast was shifted and it was drawn 100 km too narrow. Russia's norhern parts were also less known. Tasmania was connected to the main land of Australia.

Same map compared to the actual shore line.

James Cook was know for his accurate mapping work and that is the reason so few errors exist on that map.

"Cook charted many areas and recorded several islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. His achievements can be attributed to a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, courage in exploring dangerous locations to confirm the facts (for example dipping into the Antarctic Circle repeatedly and exploring around the Great Barrier Reef), an ability to lead men in adverse conditions, and boldness both with regard to the extent of his explorations and his willingness to exceed the instructions given to him by the Admiralty."

Below is the description of the map:

"Captain Cooks Map of the World, c. 1784

"A New General Chart of the World", with Traces of Captain Cook's Voyages, by Conder

c. 1784, Map Print Entitled: "A NEW GENERAL CHART OF THE WORLD", Captain Cook's Map of the World, Engraved by T. Conder, Published by Alexander Hogg, London, England, Very Fine.
This uncolored copperplate engraving of the map of the world is titled "A NEW GENERAL CHART OF THE WORLD, Exhibiting the Discoveries made by Captn. James Cook in his First, Second, and Third Voyages; Within the Tracks of the Ships Under his Command." Measuring 15" x 19", including the wide margins, it also has engraved tracings of all three of Cook's voyages around the globe. The map has very light toning, some folds, and minor foxing.

James Cook (1728-1779) made three scientific and navigational voyages to the Pacific Ocean. Cook was the first to map Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean during which he achieved the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia, the European discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. He died in Hawaii in a fight with Hawaiians during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific in 1779."

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