Throughout history, maps have been made and used in different ways and for different purposes. They can be seen as cultural artefacts, artworks, sacred objects and tools for wayfinding. Often their purposes are legal – they can be used to administer property regimes, resolve proprietary disputes or make territorial claims. But what about the laws that regulate the maps themselves, that decide who can own them or who can distribute them? This website explores these questions, juxtaposing images of maps with the legal documents intimately involved in their creation and circulation.
I am enormously grateful to staff at the following institutions for assistance in locating material: State Library of New South Wales; Bodleian Library, Oxford; National Archives UK; National Archives of Australia. I extend particular thanks to Maggie Patton, State Library of NSW, and to Morgan Richards (The Design Embassy) and Douglas Duhaime who made this website happen.