Do calendars expire? What about antiquated maps?
I think the answer is no, to both, especially the combination of the two.
This is the front of my 2020 wall calendar. I'm not a hoarder, this is my only expired calendar.
December 2019 was a great month. In fact, it may quite possibly be the last best month ever, but I didn't know that at the time. I also don't know that now, to be honest.
That month, I went to the bookstore with a corporate credit card to buy myself a diary and a calendar to prepare for 2020. Most of my coworkers picked an expensive diary and went with a free desk calendar from a local business. I did something else. I went with a very expensive wall calendar (it was like $40 at the bookstore in Korea) and I don't keep a work diary.
January is an exciting month, Joan Blaeu who drew this map in 1664 obviously got bored halfway through drawing North America and Australia. Oddly he included New Zealand (there is a meme on Reddit about maps without New Zealand).
I like old maps, so I really couldn't resist buying this calendar, especially considering it wasn't my money. I also couldn't bear to throw it out which is why I still have it. I guess I'm getting someone's money's worth.
The maps are useless for anything but studying history, the evolution of cartography and European colonialism. They may have not been very accurate, but they were the pinnacle of 1500s~1700s technology and they were also quite artistic.
February is a map of the Southern Tip of North America. For centuries Europeans were looking for the Northwest Passage. Magellan found the Southwest Passage in the 1500s. This map is from 1611 by Jodocus Hondius
Before you argue that a 2020 calendar is useless, I'll have you know, I can use it again in 2048 and perhaps 2076 if I live that long. 2020 was a leap year starting on a Wednesday. Over time, 1 in 7 years starts on a Wednesday, but only around 1 in 28 leap years starts on a Wednesday. Leap years ending in 00 are usually skipped (except every 400 years like in 2000).
*For more information on leap years that start on Wednesday, please look at this Wikipedia article that was probably generated by AI.
March is a map of Magellan's expedition, drawn in 1544 by Battista Agnese, it's the oldest map in my calendar.
Not all old maps were used for navigation or dividing up foreign colonies. Some maps were used for geography or other things. For example, Magellan's map showed his approximate route around the world. Actually, Magellan didn't sail around the world because he was killed by Lapu Lapu of Mactan in Cebu, Philippines. I went to the place where it happened and celebrated an odd turn in world history.
Actually, there is a possibility Magellan's surviving crew members weren't the first to sail around the world. There was a slave, Enrique, aboard the ship, originally from Malaysia. He was captured during an earlier voyage and brought to Europe then went on the voyage with Magellan. Enrique escaped in Cebu while helping to translate (and possibly set up the attack) and if Enrique made it back to Malaysia before Magellan's crew made it back to Spain (a far closer distance), he was the first person to travel around the world.
April is a favourite of mine. Drawn in 1550 by Sebastian Munster, it's one of the only maps I know which shows Florid's size as matching its ego.
Everyone knows that Columbus was the first to sail to America during the age of discovery, or at least he was the first to get the credit. Portugues and Basque explorers may have made it across a couple of decades earlier. Also, the Vikings definitely made it across around the year 1000. There is evidence in Canada discovered in the 1960s. Also, it was known for ages via the sagas that they made it to Greenland.
Oddly, a lot of people still think Columbus was the first (asides from indigenous people, but they came from Siberia not Europe). I got into an argument with some Mexican girl in university about it. She told me I was wrong and the Vikings weren't first and aren't even European. My bad, the Norsemen are make-belief fantasy characters and just taller dwarf species.
This map is quite accurate, that's because it was drawn in 1781, by a French person named Louis-Charles Desnos. They got much better at determining longitude by then, so there was a lot less guessing. However, as you can see the Pacific North West was still largely unknown. It's mostly because whalers and fur trappers didn't want to share their secrets.
Map-making evolved a lot during the age of European colonialism. For thousands of years, it was easy enoug to figure out latitude (North and South) by just measuring the height of the sun or stars from the horizon when the skies were clear and the ocean wasn't too rough. However, longitude (East and West) was always a problem, especially at sea. On land distance could be measured because the ground doesn't move. However, at sea, unless compasses and clocks got really accurate (while being jostled around on a ship), the only way to determine latitude was to wait for an eclipse or some other known event in outer space. It didn't happen that often and it didn't really help without a land reference point.
June is a little weird because it is not the New World. This is Holland and Belgium drawn by Pieter van den Keer in 1622
You may notice that maps looked a lot better and had a lot more cities in Europe than elsewhere. That's because much of the New World didn't really have cities, and places in the old world didn't really like to give away their geographical secrets. A lot of countries are still careful with what they place on maps. For example, if you use Google Maps in Korea, military bases and airports are often blurred out. So is the president's house and it hasn't moved in 70 years.
July is a map of Africa drawn by Gerhard Mercator in 1595, you may recognize his name even if you aren't a map nerd like me.
Although Africa wasn't the new world, it was called the dark continent because the interior was not fully explored by Europeans until the 1800s. There were too many diseases and dangerous animals in the interior. For hundreds of years, Europeans rarely went into the interior, especially into the tropical regions. However, they traded along the coast with locals who traded with the interior for precious metals, luxury goods and slaves.
August is a map of the Americas by Giovanni Battista Massa in 1595.
As the Europeans explored the New World, the maps became more accurate. However, you can still see clear patterns where they travelled to most simply by judging where it looks somewhat accurate. Another issue with maps of this time is there were no standards for drawing maps which is why they look even worse in far northern and southern latitudes. Combine it with a lack of distance and you end up with really strange shapes.
Here is a map of the spice islands and Cathay. Actually, this is where the European explorers were trying to get to. September's map is brought to you by Abraham Ortelius in 1570.
Europe and East Asia technically share the same landmass and were very aware of each other for thousands of years. However, there was no direct trade route before the 1500s and trade took a long time. These days some countries want to bring back the silk road and call it the belt and road initiative. It's probably a bad idea, but some people are naive and think Communist China will create a kinder world order than the Westerners. I'm guessing they have never spoken to any Taiwanese, Korean, Tibetan, Uighur....etc, etc, etc.
October is another map by Gerhard Mercator taken from his same atlas in 1595.
Educated Europeans have understood that the Earth is a sphere for thousands of years. However, it is far easier to conceptualize as flat because that is what it looks like. Also it's easier to draw. The issue is how do you flatten the world. Well, one way is by using curved lines. Mercator was not the first person to apply precise geometry to maps, but he gets the credit for the famous map that makes the arctic countries look huge while making the tropical countries look small.
Now because of calculus and better trigonometry, we have better projections, but all efforts to flatten the world end up with one distortion or another. Asides from denying the shape of the world, the solution is to use a globe.
Can you guess this map without reading any place names? I'll give you a hint, "Tartaria". It seems like Abraham Ortelius (or anyone else) didn't know that much about Northeast Eurasia in 1603.
Maps used to be very valuable back in the age of exploration and discovery. European powers would use them to claim territory and divide and conquer the globe. Although that sounds antiquated and unfair quite a few countries, particularly in Asia, still do this using old maps. China, Japan and Korea commonly use centuries-old maps to try and settle modern arguments. They argue over mundane things like the English names of the seas between them or the ownership of uninhabited reefs and rocks in hopes of winning unwinnable arguments or getting more oceanic resources to plunder.
Decembers map is in my opinion the most scientific map here. It was drawn by Frederik de Wit in 1660.
Most old maps were borrowed from other maps, books, captain's logs, military diaries, trader's etc. Very few cartographers actually visited most of the places they drew on maps. It involves a lot of research and observation like any other science.
Navigation and cartography relied heavily on local knowledge and the stars. Maybe the stars cannot reveal your destiny, but they can reveal your location.
We take satellite imagery and navigation systems like GPS and computers for granted these days. Most people can't find their own home without Google or whatever these days, never mind sail across the ocean.
No kidding they talked about falling off the edge of the world. People used to get lost a lot and no one could help them find home.
I like my calendar. My favourite map is the map of Tartaria (November) because it is very unique and I live here. Oddly, Korea isn't even on that map. I have a lot of other favourite old maps. What was your favourite?