Our top 10s

In honor of our 20th Anniversary, Dr. Osher's top 10 picks from his collection, and what they mean to him...

Colton's Maine

"It’s a fine map…it portrays the 15 of the 16 counties in Maine, and it’s beautifully engraved and colored. So one can get a snapshot of what Maine was like… at the time of Thoreau."

Leo Belgicus

"It’s more than just a pretty picture; it’s not just an artifice of the mapmaker to produce a pretty image. It is a reflection of the history of that period, when the Low Countries were under the domination of Spain. They were in revolt… and during that period the lion was the… patriotic symbol of that revolt."


"Instead of presenting an instantaneous of "snapshot" view, this map portrays a span of history encompassing both the old and new testaments, with the geography providing the setting for a series of events."

West Indies-Spanish Main

"Here there is a land due north of cuba called "Isla di Bimini,"… It is described in the text as a land that had springs that conferred eternal youth. So this is a graphic representation of that legend of the Fountain of Youth that Ponce de Leonsought in Florida."

Nova Totius Terrarum

"…This is a beautiful work of art, it’s a good representation of world geography of the time and it is one of the high points in cartography. It also exemplifies… the great variety of cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary information that can be encompassed in a map."

Carte de la Nouvelle

"What this map is saying is that France is the owner of most of North America, and that this map is evidence of that ownership."


"…if you look at the geography …the English now say that not only the coastal port of North America belongs to England, but you will see a number of inscriptions which say… "The boundaries of Virginia and Carolina and so on extend from coast to coast." Nobody even knows what’s out west of there, but this is the English claim: they own essentially all of North America."

Map of the British Colonies

"This map has been called the most important map in American history. And the reason for that is that this is what was used during the settlement during the negotiations for the peace treaty at the end of the Revolution, and it’s been used in almost all boundary disputes, international and national since that time."

Autographed land survey

"If you say: This is a hand-drawn survey and it’s a lot of land in Virginia, and then read "George Washington, age eighteen," it makes it alive, and we think that’s important."

Novi Belgii

"What’s changed with this map is the political development. This map has the caption "Restitutio." …Here is victory belonging to the Dutch and here is defeat, manifested by a disheveled, disconsolate, presumably British woman, who is lamenting the loss of New York. The caption here on the inset view is New Amsterdam, once named New York."

"The map of the world ceases to be a blank..."

--Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

What’s New From Osher


Women in Cartography Exhibit, up through October, 2015

This exhibition recognizes and celebrates the long overlooked role of women in the world of mapping; bringing their stories, accomplishments, and most importantly, their maps, to light. Stop in to see this remarkable exhibit that dates from Coletta van den Keere's engraved portrait of Jodocus Hondius ca. 1613 to Claire Kiedrowski's modern GIS and LiDAR work for Kappa Mapping in Maine.

More »

Staying the Course: Working Women of Portland’s Waterfront, opening August 7 at the Portland Public Library

From war-time welders, fishermen’s wives, and net makers to fishpackers, pilots and boardinghouse keepers, Staying the Course explores the diverse roles and stories of the women involved in the maritime commerce of Portland from both historical and contemporary perspectives, and is a premier collaboration of Maine Maritime Museum and Osher Map Library. Portland Public Library Lewis Gallery ~ August 7 – September 28, 2015.

More »


Autographed land survey

Before becoming an officer in the colonial militia, and eventually first president of the United States, George Washington was a land surveyor.

More »

Nova Totius Terrarum

The map was first published and dated 1608. In 1621 Kaerius sold his plates to Jan Janssonius who then issued the map with his imprint.

More »