DAILY FEATURE: By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (October 28, 2020) – In Issue 97 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps it’s a Cuban Map Crisis.

Steve Kovacs, Loveland, OH (Provided)


The first European to sight Cuba was the guy from Genoa, Christopher Columbus, on this day in 1492 during his first voyage to the New World, naming the island Juana.   There were two distinct tribes inhabiting this island at the time.

Here is an 1850 map of Cuba with a plethora of vignettes showing daily life.   This map was printed in Germany and was sold by May, a merchant in Havana.  It is a direct copy of an earlier issued map by a fellow named Mialhe.   Mialhe sued May, but the case was thrown out of court on a technicality.  

Various forms of copying and plagiarism was practiced to a fairly modest extend in the map world from the 1500s to well into the 2000s. 

Early on, it was more about taking an idea on and incorporating that into one’s own map, like the idea of California being an island.  In the 1600s-1800s, in the age of geographical discovery, map makers tended to make reference on their maps if part of the map, usually a newly discovered geography, is after another cartographer’s work. 

More recently map makers, like gas station map makers, at times incorporated fake towns or city streets to catch others copying their maps.     


Map of Cuba – 1850 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.