Contact Us

Universe of Maps - Opening the David Rumsey Map Center

Teaching and Learning - 2

Townsend's Patent Folding Globe. Patented by Dennis Townsend Feb. 16, 1869. Dennis Townsend. Boston: 1870
Townsend was a schoolteacher in Vermont and later in California. His interest was in producing an inexpensive globe that could be owned and used by students instead of a flat map, “which, without explanation, is a false illustration, and can be understood only by a process of reasoning entirely beyond the mind of the child" (from Townsend's "Folding Globe Lessons").
Maine, in Atlas of the United States, Printed for the Use of the Blind. Samuel Gridley Howe; Samuel P. Ruggles. Boston: 1837
This atlas was the first intended to be used by the blind without the assistance of a sighted person. In raised symbology, the atlas shows the outline of each state, rivers and other water bodies, cities, longitudes, latitudes, and mountains. Accompanying embossed text describes the map features in some detail, and the state's area, population, climate, commerce, etc.
[Charte von Europa. Charte von Asia. Charte von Africa. Charte von America], in Atlas methodicus explorandis juvenum profectibus in studio geographico ad methodum Hübnerianam accommodatus. Johann Baptist Homann; Johann Hübner. Nuremberg: 1719
One of the earliest school atlases to use a system of letters on blank maps that are coded to a separate key list. This method was based on a teaching system formulated by Johann Hübner and adapted by Homann. California is shown as an island on the Americas map, and listed under islands in the key.

The patented Townsend’s Folding Globe, his second of this kind, lies flat for storage and comes in its own case with notes for the teacher and directions for use. To expand the globe, the user pulls the rings affixed to both poles. The globe pops up into a three-dimensional form and snaps into place like an umbrella.

Of the two atlases shown here, one is extraordinary: on display is a raised relief map of Maine in an atlas designed for use by the blind. Interestingly, the text that accompanies the maps is also raised relief, not Braille, although Braille was in limited use at that time. This is probably because braille was not widely used at that time. It appears that only fifty copies were produced, and this copy is one of four known to exist—with a few missing leaves.

The Hubner and Homann Atlas is a beautiful example of a school atlas. Produced in full color, it includes four celestial maps (not shown) that illustrate the systems of Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, and Descartes. This atlas also demonstrates German cartographer and publisher Johann Baptist Homann’s prolific map making.