I regularly get map enthusiasts contacting me online about maps with said sea monsters or curious looking humans. The sea monsters especially, "have you still got that map with the sea monsters?" Usually the answer is no as these are so popular they get snapped up pretty quickly. The best I can often do is direct these enquiries to other reliable antique map dealers who may have some of these delightful maps and prints in stock.
If its got sea monsters then it's most likely going to be a sixteenth or seventeenth century map. This was a time when many people believed that strange and dangerous monsters inhabited the oceans. Many of these maps carried the medieval fascination with monsters, some derived from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.
Above: "Des Poissons" by Alain Manesson Mallet c1684 from Volume I of 'Description de L'Univers' by Mallet. This work contains a wide variety of information, including star maps, maps of the ancient and modern world.
Herodotus spent his life traveling from one Persian territory to another. He crossed the Mediterranean to Egypt and traveled through Palestine to Syria and Babylon. He headed to Macedonia and visited all the islands of the Greek Archipelago: Rhodes, Cyprus, Delos, Paros, Thasos, Samothrace, Crete, Samos, Cythera and Aegina. He sailed through the Hellespont to the Black Sea and kept going until he hit the Danube River. While he traveled, Herodotus collected what he called “autopsies,” or “personal inquiries”: He listened to myths and legends, recorded oral histories and made notes of the places and things that he saw.
So in the nicest way you can blame the sea monsters on Herodotus. These spectacular sea monsters clearly have links to real marine animals such as whales and walruses. These along with an array of fantastical creatures continue to captivate many map collectors. How about you? Lastly incase you're wondering about this delightful little sea monster print by Mallet, it's already been sold!