Heart-Shaped Maps - Valentine Primary Sources

Source: Wikipedia - Oronce Fine, 1531
It wasn’t until our students started making heart-shaped worlds as part of a way to promote peace that we wondered if there were any historical references. To our surprise, there were plenty. One of the earliest heart-shaped (cordiform) map projections by Oronce Fine, a French mathematician and cartographer, was created in the sixteenth century. According to Wikipedia, this might have been his most famous illustration and one that influenced other cartographers, such as Peter Apian and Gerardus Mercator.

We love when something our learners do triggers a curiosity in us. Instead of showing our students the many infographics we’ve collected about Valentine’s Day that tabulate the amount of money spent by men and women on items such as flowers, chocolate, and jewelry, we chose to show these beautiful heart-shaped maps that so wholly connected to their designs. As expected, our students delighted in seeing the connection to their creations, especially since they had no idea of their connections to history.

We uncovered other examples of cordiform map projections that obviously take their influence from Oronce Fine's beautiful cartographic design. The maps below, illustrated by Giovanni Cimerlino and Pierre Moulart Sanson, were done more than a century apart.

Source: Rare Maps (Left) and Britain (Right)
Two more recent uses of the heart-shaped map appeared on stamps issued in the United States (1991) and Venezuela (1972). We wonder if the graphic artists knew of Oronce Fine's hand-drawn map of 1531.
Source: Dan's Topical Stamps
The "Love" stamp from the United States does not necessarily represent a cordiform projection, whereas the stamp from Venezuela celebrating World Health Day more closely resembles the heart-shaped designs from the fifteenth century.

Source: Biographile
As we probed the Internet for other examples, we discovered a heart-shaped map of Seattle from 1905 and one of the New York City subway system from 2008.

These maps clearly illustrate the change in design from one era to another. The map of Seattle represents a more typical illustration at the turn of the twentieth century, whereas the subway map, completed more than a century later, closely follows the style of a modern visual illustration or infographic.
Source: Zero Per Zero

Sometimes it's the innocence of children that triggers inquiry in adults. We attribute our curiosity to them. Finding other models based on their creativity led to the discovery of historical references. Connecting history through primary sources reinforced their global view of the world.

With the continued onslaught of violence and terrorism in the news, we could all use a little more heart.

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