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Joseph da Costa e Miranda was the son of a nautical instrument maker and cartographer who had been Portugal’s only ‘master of nautical charts by examination’ from c. 1676 to 1695. In 1706 Joseph da Costa e Miranda produced an exquisite manuscript world map on vellum measuring approximately 76 x 208 centimetres. The map is drawn on a cylindrical projection covering the area from 82°N to 57°S latitude, with longitudes running from the prime meridian of the Island of Ferro. The map is highly decorated with ornate cartouches, compass roses, real and imaginary birds and animals.
The ‘Miranda Map’, as it is known, provides a fascinating illustration of the known world in the late seventeenth century. It was acquired for the Mitchell collection in 1929 and it has become a favourite piece for exhibitions and researchers.
For an Australian audience the ‘Miranda map’ documents the known area of the Australian continent before the monumental voyages of the eighteenth century in which James Cook and Matthew Flinders provided the final definition to the coastlines of Australia and New Zealand. Although produced in 1706 it is also a perfect specimen for lessons on the conventions of historical cartography of earlier centuries.
In December 2015 the map was digitised by state-of-the-art high resolution scanner, technology developed from ground breaking research at Kyoto University’s Advanced Imaging Lab.
This digitisation process combines high resolution scanning, up to 1200 dpi, with precise lighting technique and incredibly accurate colour rendition. This process is ideal for scanning really large, long items like this map with high levels of fine detail. The files captured at these resolutions allow up to 50x enlargement, making them excellent sources for detailed investigation into aspects of the physical substrate of the item and for innovative multimedia exhibition and display.
The map was scanned in 15cm sections and was stitched together to create an exceptionally accurate and detailed high resolution file.
Sarah Kenderdine from Laboratory for Innovation in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (iGLAM) and expert Pengchang Zhang from LUXLAB Scanning Research Services were onsite during the Digitisation process to perform the scanning in the Digitisation & Imaging department, and share their expertise.
Scanning the Miranda Map