WWW-Virtual Library: History
Map History / History of Cartography: THE Gateway to the Subject

WWW-VL Main Catalogue WWW-VL History Central Catalogue
(main menu)

What the
site is
Map History

Chronogram dates of cartographic interest

(a round-up of present knowledge)

edited by Tony Campbell

A chronogram is a sentence or inscription in which specific letters (M,D,C,L,X,V,I), capitalised and interpreted as Roman numerals (respectively 1000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5, 1), have their values added up so as to give a hidden date, e.g.

'LIncVIt In Isto MonasterIo reLIgIosVs fr. LanDeLInVs bIeheLer IbI professVs' (try it out for yourself and check at the end of this webpage)

Mounted on the web 14 April 2008

last major update 7 December 2018; other minor updates noted at the relevant point
Illustrations page added 21 June 2008 (but see the individual 'Census' entries for links to web scans)

Many more cartographic chronograms must exist. Keep a look out and you may well find one.
If you do, please send a note to the editor Tony Campbell:


Most chronograms are in Latin and date from the 16th-18th centuries, though some (such as Hebrew and Arabic examples) are found much earlier than that, and enthusiasts in several countries still produce them today. The vast majority appear in literary texts or on European buildings (particularly in Germany and the Low Countries), usually over the entrance.

Those relating to maps have excited little interest outside map history circles. Even there, it is hard to find references to chronograms. It is probably an exaggeration to say that the word does not occur in the index of any general, English-language study in the history of cartography [though might it feature in German or Dutch publications?]. But, if it does, I have not found it. Nor do the British Library catalogues help here.

Most of what has been written about cartographic examples, therefore, is gathered together on this multi-authored page. It results from a discussion in The Map Collector during the 1980s. The purpose of this exhumation is to bring into one accessible place all that is known about this backwater in the history of cartography and, perhaps, to revive interest in it. Also, a little more information has become available in the last twenty years, and it is hoped that this exercise may produce one or two more examples.

If your experience is like mine, once the meaning of a chronogram was pointed out to you, you will remember having seen one before. But where? So, keep your eyes open, and you may be able to add to what we know about chronograms with cartographic relevance. A century ago, James Hilton located 5000 chronograms. So far, around 20 map examples [but see the Update] have been found (with a few others of cartographic relevance) - though that is some improvement on the single instance noted in 1983 [see the Census].

Searching via Google - something that was not of course possible when the original article was written - runs into two problems. First, prominence is naturally given to citations of 'Chronogram: the monthly magazine of Arts and Current Events' (irrelevant here); second, the term is commonly used, with a quite different meaning, in mathematical and scientific circles (as also is the common word 'map'). So there may well be other relevant examples among the almost 10,000 hits Google offers for 'chronogram+map'.

As has been demonstrated by Francis Herbert and others, chronograms can provide previously unsuspected information, for example about unrecorded earlier versions of a map. "Thus chronograms may be instructive as well as amusing - as was often their original purpose."

However, it should be remembered that the chronogram's date might not be that of the work's creation but rather a year that had particular significance in that context [see the Notes to the Census]. Michael Boym is known to us as a Jesuit cartographer in China, but every page of his Flora Sinensis (1656) "contained a chronogram pointing to the date of 1655, the date of coronation of Emperor Leopold I as the King of Hungary, as Boym wanted to gain the support of that monarch for his mission" (Wikipedia).

It must have been generally assumed that the apparently erratic capitalisation would have immediately alerted the reader to the presence of a chronogram. It is therefore interesting that a recent addition (in December 2018) actually explains how a chronogram worked. It may be significant that the work in question, a news-map celebrating the creation of one of the Dutch polders, De Wormer, would have been aimed at a much wider market than a literary text.

Lastly, engravers, particularly later copyists, could make the mistake of failing to capitalise one or more numeral letters. They could not, of course, update the chronogram (since that would require a new inscription) - except in the case of Hebrew examples, on which see the Note under '1566'.

Besides those acknowledged in the next section, the following have helpfully supplied recent information: Ashley Baynton-Williams, Bernard Grothues, H.J. Haag, Francis Herbert, Joel Kovarsky, Joe McCollum, Peter Meurer, Markus Oehrli, Rehav Rubin and Martijn Storms.

Tony Campbell, 14 April 2008

Top of page


The indefatigable Francis Herbert alerted me to a further Dutch chronogram, thus bringing the total so far recorded to 33. He kindly provided most of the following information.

The chronogram can be found at the foot of a two-part news-map or broadside:
DE WORMER IN FIGVRE VAN EEN VOGHEL GESTELT [top centre]; RARA AVIS IN TERRIS [bottom centre]; N Klesius invenit [bottom right corner].

The chronogram reads:
sIC InDIgnatIo VersVM eXt[e]rsIt, N.C.F.K. Ao. 1625. [below the right-hand Dutch text column]

The upper (map) portion was used to illustrate a note by Laurien van der Werff about the ‘Kartografische en topografische collecties van het Rijksprentenkabinet’, Caert-Thresoor, Jg 36, 2017(1), p. 28. However no mention was made of the chronogram at the end of the much rarer bilingual letter-press text (Latin & Dutch) that forms the bottom half of the news-map.

As an interesting addition, there are six further single-line chronograms at the top of the letter-press. Although breaking the rule that only the Roman numerals should be capitalised, it yet lists separately the relevant letters for each line, provides an individual total for each, and finally adds those up to 1625. Apparently, even during the period of the chronogram’s heyday there were some people who needed to have its workings explained.

A further twist involves the 1557 Saint-Quentin battle map. This has a pair of chronograms and, as with De Wormer above, both of those include non-Roman numerals amongst the capital letters. Some of those involved the names of important people and it would no doubt have been impolitic to have downgraded their names. But, as pointed out by Francis Herbert ('Chronograms in cartography - an excursion into dates', Newsletter of the Brussels Map Circle, Maps in History, 64 (May 2019) pp.16-17), in this case, in an attempt to counteract the confusion likely to be caused by the use of capital A, G, H, P, Q, S and T, a dot has been placed beneath the relevant, Roman numeral instances.

As explained by Francis Herbert, Dutch texts refer to the designer/draughtsman/author as Nikolaas Kloesius/Klesius 'advokaat te Edam' or as Nicolaas Clesius 'advocaat uit Edam'.

A note between the legs of the turkey (?) records that the map depicts the construction of the Wormer polder in 1624.

There is an enlargeable scan on the website of the Geheugen van Nederland.

7 December 2018



In July 2017 I learnt of two new chronograms, the first additions since 2008. Both are from the early 17th century and within fifteen years of one another. This brings the total of recorded cartographic chronograms to 32.

Siege of Ypres, 1383
Francis Herbert drew my attention to a chronogram published in 1610 and recently described by Bram Vannieuwenhuyze. It is significant for two reasons. First because the chronogram spells out 1383, the year of a celebrated siege of Ypres in Belgium, rather than the year of publication (1610). And second because it is one of the instances where the date – in this case that of a much earlier event – is not written out in numerals elsewhere.

The chronogram forms the title of a reconstructed bird’s-eye map-view of the 1383 siege and is signed ‘Guill[aume] du Tielt’. It appeared in a work by Adriaan [or Adriaen] van Schrieck, Beleg van Ypre, door de Engelschen en Gendtenaers, ten Jaere 1383, en Oorsprong van de Feest gezegd den Tuindag, in which this engraving was published for the first time.

The chronogram is in a simple frame at the top left. It can be roughly made out in a low resolution scan from Wikipedia. The inscription reads:

       EIâ fIDeLeIs prInCIpI CIVeIs, EIâ, pVgnate fortIter, èn parens ab oethere èt gnatVs, IprIs passa tenDVnt braChIa
         [= 1383 – make sure to count all thirteen of the instances of ‘i’ = ‘I’]

For an image see Gijs Boink & Martijn Storms, ‘ “Ik ben heel beïnvloedbaar”: interview met bijzonder hoogleraar Bram Vannieuwenhuyze’, Caert-Thresoor, 36:1 (2017) 3-9 (p. 7).

For an explanation and transcription of the inscriptions see Bram Vannieuwenhuyze, ‘Reading history maps: the siege of Ypres [in 1383] mapped by Guillaume du Tielt’, Quaerendo, 45 (2015), 292-321 (the chronogram is transcribed as footnote 56)



Spanish recapture of Bahia de Todos los Santos, 1625
It was Ashley Baynton-Williams who alerted me to this second example. It represents an unusual printed map in Spanish of the joint Portuguese and Spanish recapture of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, in Brazil, from the Dutch on 1st May 1625. The Dutch West India Company had taken Salvador from the Portuguese the year before.

The engraving is untitled but signed, 'Alardo de Popma fecit Matriti Año de 1625.' It is a broadside ‘news map’, with letterpress text beneath the engraved image.

The chronogram appears in the lower right corner and, once again, serves as the sheet’s title. In this case there is a very adequate online image, provided by the John Carter Brown Library [to enlarge for high resolution, move the slider device which appears in the lower middle of the screen].

The inscription is written in large and small capitals as follows:


Alardo de Popma (d. 1641) was a Flemish engraver, who settled in Madrid, and seems to have been active there from about 1616 up to his death. One other map is known by him, featuring Cadiz Harbour.

9 August 2017

Top of page

Just two weeks after this page was launched it has proved possible to make significant additions to the original census. Where there had been nineteen 'genuine' examples of chronograms on maps, or sometimes city plans or views, the total has now been increased to 30. All but one of the additions comes via a single source, the IKAR - Landkartendrucke vor 1850. It was a chance accident that revealed how this composite (or 'union') catalogue of the pre-1850 collections of several of the more important map libraries in Germany provided direct access to the cataloguer's comments. The word 'chronogram', or, in German, 'chronogramm', would not appear in a map's title. It was, after all, a hidden date. Where most online catalogues allow you to search for author, title and perhaps geographical subject or date, few provide a full keyword search. Without that ability it is not possible to seek further unknown instances of chronograms.

Among the eleven new entries (recognisable from the date '28 April 2008', added to the right column of the Census), is one that, for maps at least, reveals a new type. In 1758, Johann Friedrich Haehn reissued his composite sheet of German maps and plans. Rather than replace the now redundant chronogram of 1751 (the date of the first issue), he extended the original inscription with a second chronogram.

When the decision was taken to recast the form of this census, providing notes for each map and transcribing, wherever possible, the chronogram, another interesting variation emerged. The chronogram that had helped to establish a 1608 original version of Blaeu's wall-map of the Netherlands (known from a 1622 reissue) ended by replicating the way that such hidden dates are usually revealed to a reader, e.g. by noting the number of instances of D, M, C, etc. in turn. Which is exactly what he does at the end of his chronogram.

With 30 cartographic examples now available - treating the two 1758 Anich globes as a single item - possible national patterns are emerging. Perhaps half of the identified map chronograms are from the German-speaking world, though that may be distorted by the special accessibility of the German union map catalogue (IKAR). About ten derive from the Low Countries, and one or two each from Bohemia, France and Italy - assuming that the 1603 British Isles map was actually the work of an engraver from the Low Countries.

Working through the IKAR Datenbank, which threw up 33 entries for 'chronogramm' [38 in August 2017, mostly repeats and none new], it is clear that many cataloguers were unaware of the bibliographical importance of a map's chronogram for (sometimes) providing a publication date. In one instance the suggested date of issue was earlier than the chronogram year.

Not realising the significance of a chronogram can easily lead to transcription mistakes. Union catalogues, whose records are often shared, multiply such errors as 'antChrIst' for 'antIChrIst', thus losing a year from the true date (1664). The 1573/1623 error in the chronogram on different versions of the map of Charlemagne's Empire (through failing to capitalise a letter 'L') was already known. That was done by a copyist engraver working for the Blaeus. What is perhaps more surprising is (if the catalogue entries are accurate) that Frans Hogenberg made nonsense of the chronogram on the plan of the German town of Neuß (by reducing the year by a full century through failing to capitalise a 'c'). He was certainly not a reproductive engraver, and surely the plan was his own work.

28 April 2008

Some chronograms provide further dating information, occasionally a specific day and month as well as the year. However, this will not usually provide a more precise publication date. See the comments in the Notes entries for:

  • 1557 Saint-Quentin
  • 1600 Nieuwpoort
  • 1623 Carolingian Empire
  • 1751 & 1758 (Germany)
I am grateful to Joe McCollum for pointing out these instances.

3 May & 2 June 2008

Top of page

The Map Collector article and follow-up letters

The article below appeared in The Map Collector 22 (March 1983), pp. 48-49. In the years that followed a number of people added further information - Ashley Baynton-Williams, Bernard Grothues, Francis Herbert (most notably), Barbara McCorkle, Roger Mason, Rehav Rubin, Günter Schilder and Rodney Shirley. Their contributions (via letters to the magazine) are reproduced below.

Francis Herbert's first letter comprises an excellent summary of the extent of our current knowledge about cartographic chronograms. For convenience, his tally, along with later additions, is set out in the Census, whose Notes record more recent publications on this topic.

Ownership of The Map Collector passed to Mercator’s World in 1996. That, in turn, ceased publication in 2003, without warning and in the middle of a subscription period. Since the present whereabouts of the proprietor of that magazine is unknown, it has proved impossible to seek permission for this reuse of material.

'At the time of writing .. ' - a brief account of chronograms

Tony Campbell, 1983

Any crossword addict can recognise an anagram at three paces, and any reader of Latin verse two centuries ago would have spotted a chronogram with equal facility. Yet few today would probably realise the significance of the apparently erratic capitalisation that is the distinguishing characteristic of a chronogram. An example can be seen in our illustration of a detail from Gerard Valk's map of Spain, towards the end of the dedication inscription. What might appear to be the work of an abnormally careless printer, or alternatively a separate message spelt out in the capital letters, is, in fact, a hidden Roman date. It is called a chronogram from the Greek words for 'time' and 'writing'.

The art of devising chronograms has been so thoroughly lost that contemporary English-language encyclopaedias are mute on the subject. And why, it could reasonably be asked, should they trouble with such an obscure triviality? Yet an indefatigable Victorian antiquarian James Hilton (who must have been one of the very few people to have had almost the first and last words on his subject) managed to record no fewer than 38,000 examples. Most were on medals, on inscriptions or in Latin verse, although some buildings display them - particularly churches, where they must have proved pleasantly diverting during sermon time. Winchester Cathedral, for instance, has one on the tower ceiling. Most of those Hilton transcribed, however, are literary. Some authors even devoted a relentless ingenuity to composing entire works whose sole purpose was to reproduce the relevant date in a seemingly endless succession of chronograms.

We can use the illustrated example to demonstrate how a chronogram works:

InDos et VtrosqVe
TertIVs ReX CaroLVs!

The numerical letters have here been capitalised, although in another medium they might well have been picked out in a different colour. [Note that only the bold capital letters should be considered.] If the relevant letters are arranged in their descending value order we get:

M = 1000
D = 500
C = 100
L = 50
X = 10
VVVVVVVV = 40 (each V is 5)
IIII = 4

Total = 1704

Commentators have distinguished various kinds of chronograms. Since Valk places his numerical letters in an incorrect order, and since he does not give the hidden date in its usual form (MDCCIV or MDCCIIII), this specimen cannot claim to be one of the most refined type. But it does at least satisfy Hilton's requirement that 'the words composing a chronogram ought to convey a pertinent allusion to the event which it commemorates, the sentence should be concise, and should contain no more numerical letters than are necessary to form the date'. As to the 'pertinent allusion' demanded by Hilton, the chronogram's literal meaning - loosely, 'Long live King Charles III of Spain!' - forms part of the map's political purpose: a statement in favour of the imperial claimant to the Spanish throne. Following the proclamation of the French nominee as Philip V in 1701, Europe became embroiled in the War of the Spanish Succession. Valk in Amsterdam, however, reflected contradictory Dutch support for the Emperor's son, Charles Leopold, who had been proclaimed as Charles III of Spain in Vienna in 1703. Indeed, Charles's visit to Holland, en route for Catalonia to test his claim by force, was no doubt the reason for publishing a map of Spain at that particular time.

This is the only map chronogram known to me and I have enquired in vain about others. Hilton unfortunately seems not to have considered maps at all. If The Map Collector's ever-alert readers were to keep an eye open, it might prove possible to assemble a cartographic supplement to Hilton's 38,000. Other examples must surely exist. Valk's map of Spain is, of course, clearly dated anyway to the intercalary (or leap year) of 1704. Hilton records a number of 'undated' books whose title-pages actually contain the date in chronogrammatic form. Examples on maps previously thought to be undated would be especially valuable.

For those engaged in this search it is worth noting that the hey-day of chronograms was the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although they seem to have originated in the Near East several centuries before that. Their most likely place of construction would be Germany or the Low Countries. One word of warning: as Hilton points out, the chronogrammatic total would occasionally have to be halved to reveal the date!

To Joseph Addison, writing at the beginning of the eighteenth century, chronograms represented a 'false wit'. They were a 'near relation to anagrams and acrostics - the results of monkish ignorance - tricks in writing requiring much time and little capacity'. Addison was distressed by the excessive pedantry involved. We, surely, can take a more tolerant view and, while enjoying the search for further cartographic examples for its own sake, may inadvertently unearth information of genuine historical value.

Works consulted:
James Hilton, Chronograms 5000 and more in number excerpted from various authors and collected at many places (London: Elliot Stock, 1882).
... Chronograms continued and concluded (London: Elliot Stock, 1885).
... Chronograms collected - more than 4000 in number (London: Elliot Stock, 1895). [Available online from Google Books. For further Hilton references see 'Other General References']
Pierre Larousse, Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe siècle (Paris, 1869) ['Chronogramme'].

Top of page

Barbara McCorkle: letter in The Map Collector 23 (June 1983), p. 47

I found Tony Campbell's 'Compass Points' in the March issue particularly interesting since I have come across several map chronograms over the years. In my naivete I had not realised they were rare and cannot give references except to say that in the historical map collection at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, I recall at least one. If anyone is interested, I think I can track down the full citation.

I enclose a Xerox of a chronogram on a set of globe gores of the Western Hemisphere in the map collection at Yale. The gores were done by Peter Anich in Deciphering the Chronogram, 1757. {Afternote correction: the chronogram dates to 1758, as described by Francis Herbert for the celestial pair. See the catalogue entry in the National Library of Australia and the enlargeable scan of the gores} Interestingly enough, no globe gores by Anich are listed either in E. L. Stevenson's Terrestial and Celestial Globes or in E. Yonge's Catalogue of Early Globes, 1968, although Tooley's Dictionary lists Anich as producing globes 1756-9.

I'm sure Campbell's article will trigger memories other than mine and should result in a longer list of map examples.

Barbara B. McCorkle
Map Curator
Yale University Library
New Haven
Connecticut 06520

Top of page

Tony Campbell: letter in The Map Collector 26 (March 1984), p. 45

In offering a few thoughts on cartographic chronograms in Issue 22, I felt I had given hostages to fortune and that you, the long-suffering Editor, would he deluged with sufficient further examples to rue the day you had agreed to publish the piece. In the event, my meagre total of identified chronograms (one) has been no more than doubled, and that thanks to a letter sent in from Yale by Barbara McCorkle (Issue 23).

To that pair can now be added a third, and this, like the Anich globe gores from Yale, is datable only by its chronogram. The present example, however, introduces a new element: a mistake by an uncomprehending engraver! As can be seen from the illustration of its title cartouche, this concerns a map of Charlemagne's Empire. What would not be apparent is that it forms part of a four-sheet map issued by Willem and Joan Blaeu in 1635 (Koeman Bl 8A - Vol. 1, p.100. The chronogrammatic date (obtained by listing out the capitalized, or numeral letters) gives:

DD =1000
CCCCC = 500
L = 50
VVV = 15

Total = 1573

This date poses a number of problems and warns against total reliance on chronograms. In 1573, the named author, Petrus Bertius, precocious no doubt, was a mere eight years old. Nor did he become Cosmographer to the map's dedicatee 'Ludovico regi' (i.e. Louis XIII of France) until 1618. The explanation is simple. The unnamed engraver, not being fully conversant with the rules of chronograms, failed to realize that all the numeral letters had to be capitalized, including the 'L' of 'Ecclesiae'. Once this mistake is rectified, 1573 becomes 1623. This far more plausible date, some twelve years before the map's inclusion in the Blaeu atlas, suggests it was probably published separately by Bertius himself before the copper plates passed to the Blaeu firm.

Tony Campbell
Robert Douwma Prints & Maps Ltd
4 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8QU

Top of page

Roger Mason: letter in The Map Collector 37 (December 1986), p. 53

Further to Tony Campbell's article on chronograms (TMC, Issue 22), the letter from Barbara McCorkle (Issue 23), and the letter from Tony Campbell (Issue 26), I am delighted to announce a fourth example of a chronogram on a map. This should be particularly welcome to your Research Editor as it provides an example of his perspicacity.

The third chronogram (Issue 26) is from the Blaeus' four-sheet map of the Carolingian Empire; Campbell suggests that the engraver has misunderstood the necessity of capitalising the right letters in the title, and postulates that it should read 1623. The accompanying photograph shows that he is right, the 'L' of 'Ecclesiae' is indeed a capital.

The dedicatory cartouche illustrated is from an untitled map of the Carolingian Empire engraved by Joannes Picart of Paris in four sheets; a printed gazetteer pasted on the back bears the imprint of Joanem Boisseau of Paris. It measures 958 x 650 mm, while the Blaeus' map is 985 x 624 mm; the latter is clearly not printed from the plates of the former, though it is a close copy; Picart has stipple-engraved the sea, included ships and dolphins, and has more historical notes than the Blaeus, in addition to the magnificent dedication to Louis XIII.

The existence of a 1623 map by Bertius remains conjectural, but I suggest, with the discovery of the Picart, that its existence is only possible rather than probable. It is possible that Picart and Bertius published their maps in the same year; in this connection it may be remarked that France adopted the new style Gregorian calendar in 1582, so the date in the Picart cartouche is certainly February 1623.

If we are to compile a chronology of cartographic chronograms I suggest the Picart be provisionally numbered 1, the Blaeus' 2, the Valk 3, and the Yale Anich 4.

Roger Mason

Top of page

Francis Herbert: letter in The Map Collector 45 (Winter 1988), pp. 50-2


I thought readers of TMC would be interested in the following cartographic chronograms which have come to light as a result of Tony Campbell's 'Compass Points' in TMC 22. Obviously there must still be more out there waiting to be listed so I hope readers will continue to keep their eyes open for other examples.

The earliest chronogram was found by Ashley Baynton-Williams on a map-view depicting the siege and battle of Saint-Quentin (northern France) in August 1557. The item can be found often in Lafreri-type atlases, the example illustrated being in the Royal Geographical Society Map Room.1 It is unusual in that each of the two laudatory verses on either side of the scene contains a chronogram adding up to 1557. { Afternote, April 2008. Ashley Baynton-Williams kindly supplied the two inscriptions in full:

  • De Philippo Catholico Hisp. Angliae etc. Rege Inuictiss. Pijssimo et cet. AD DIVVM LAVRENTIVM. LVX t Va faVsta pIo, LaVrentI, hInC fert tIbI CLaras PrIMItIas VICtore rIte PhILIppVs oVans Augustus docuit quod et hic Augustus in armis, Caesaris inuicti est filius, acta probant.
  • De feliciss.a et gloriossis:a Ill.mi et Ex:mi Philiberti Sabaudiae Ducis Victoria SoLIs In opposItV et LVnae DVX Ipse Cohortes HIC Vna heV VICtas GaLLe SabaVDVs ago It: Quintini malo erant Quintili mense medendum. Ter nona Augusti hoc experimenta docent.}

On the Saint-Quentin battle map see also Yolande Hodson's note on the example in George III's Military Map Collection; and Francis Herbert's note (illustrated with three details): 'Chronograms in cartography - an excursion into dates', Newsletter of the Brussels Map Circle, Maps in History, 64 (May 2019) pp.16-17.

The next pair were reported by Günter Schilder (although the second one had been spotted earlier by Ashley Baynton-Williams and Roger Mason) and can both be seen, also illustrated, in Volume One of his Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica (1986). The earliest is from 1600 and appears on Baptista van Deutecum's 'Afcontrafeytinge van t'Landt van den Zype bedyckt inden Iare 1597' whilst the second appears on W.J. Blaeu's 'Nieuwe ende waarachtighe beschrijvinghe der zeventien Nederlanden...' (Amsterdam, 1622). From this and other evidence it is known that there was, in fact, a 1608 edition of the Blaeu map: the chronogram helps support this evidence. Until recently to be found only on a state issued probably by Peter Stent with the date altered to 1643 2 is the map 'Angliae et Hiberniae nova descriptio veteribus et recentioribus nominibus. . .' (anonymous, after Jodocus Hondius). Tony Campbell reports that there was assumed to be an original issue of 1603 but that no copy was known until the British Library acquired one. Its chronogram, in the small panel to the right, bears out the earlier assumption: 'Absoluta opus hoc est anno MIserICorDIae...'

Chronograms have also been discovered on maps on medals. From information supplied to Tony Campbell by Bernard Grothues of Hoensbrock in The Netherlands, we can add the following: 'ITANE FLANDRI AM LIBERAS IBER'. The date works out to 1604 and appears on a map of Ostend depicting its siege by the Spanish. On the reverse of the medal the anonymous artist has a map of Sluys and the area encompassed by Aerdenburch [Aardenburg], Oostburch [Oostburg] - in The Netherlands - and Westkapel [Westkapelle] in Belgium.

To these seventeenth-century items may I add three more from the eighteenth century? The earliest is another example of two chronograms on one map. The title on this map is in Latin above the upper border 'Postarum seu Veredariorum Stationes per Germaniam et Provincias' or, in German in the cartouche at bottom right, 'Neuvermehrte Post-Charte durch gantz Teutschland ... '. Both chronograms appear at the top, one on a scroll and the other issuing from a post horn. ' ... paX gerManIae rastaDII paCta et san CIta est' and 'Marte Catenato trIbVIt DeVs otIa paCIs' (1714). The fact that one chronogram was to be seen on this map (originally compiled by J.R. Nell in 1709, then revised and engraved in copper and published by J. B. Homann from [1714?] onwards), was noted by Lothar Zögner in his exhibition catalogue. 3 The map itself, incidentally, like many other works of Homann, has a complex history which is not clarified by other writers such as Wilhelm Bonacker. 4

On another map 'Kurtze doch wahrhaffte Nachricht Was waehrend der durch dem im Jahr 1757, beschehen Preussichen gewaltsamen Einfall ... Be1agerung der Koenigl. Haupt und Residenz Stadt Prag ... ' (drawn by surveyor J.N. Breÿer, engraved by I. Saltzer in Prague) appears 'IgneIs qVas MIttIs re X prVsse ab parCe sagIttIs Intro VIX I bIs neCet absqVe rVbore reDIbIs', which equals 1757.

Globes, as distinct from globe gores, noted by Barbara McCorkle of Yale University Library (TMC 23) should not be forgotten either. 'LIncVIt In Isto MonasterIo reLIgI osVs fr. LanDeLInVs bIeheLer IbI professVs' (= 1781) is to be found on the celestial globe compiled and drawn by Landelin Bieheler and made by Thaddius Rinderle at St Peter's Benedictine monastery in the Black Forest; both this and its accompanying terrestrial globe are now in the Augustiner Museum in Freiburg. This chronogram cannot be illustrated as it was transcribed from an article by Kurt Schmidt about the St Peter globes. 5

Apart from chronograms on cartographic items it is, perhaps, of interest to note those relating to cartographers themselves. In the first volume of Hilton's collections of chronograms 6 there are quoted two commemorating the death of Ortelius (in 1598). What is curious, however, is that both are erroneous: one gives the date 1594 and the other l599 (perhaps the makers were not sufficiently proficient in Latin?). Also of interest to both book and map collectors, Hilton quotes a chronogram which was to be seen on the front of Muller's bookshop in Kalverstraat, Amsterdam, which added up to 1728. Another example occurs in the frontispiece to Gough's edition of Camden's Britannia (1789 and 1806 (second) editions). The chronogram below this portrait of Camden equals 1622 (the year he founded a chair in history at the University of Oxford): another item reported by Ashley Baynton-Williams.

Combining the features of both books and maps are, of course, atlases. Beneath a crown placed at the side of the full-length figure of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (reigned 1711-40) can be seen 'Me DeCet Corona SeXtI' (=1711) on a plate sometimes to be found in atlases by J.B. Homann. The present illustration is taken from a copy of his Atlas Novus Terrarum Orbis Imperia, Regna et Status... (Nuremberg [1730?]) in the Royal Geographical Society Map Room. This, like the W. J, Blaeu example above, may be helpful in indicating that an earlier edition of the same atlas was issued in or shortly after 1711: thus chronograms may be instructive as well as amusing - as was often their original purpose.

As a kind of footnote to this update on chronograms it is of more general interest to mention a theory proposed by Rolf Lindemann at the Twelfth International Conference on the History of Cartography at Paris in September last [1987]. He proposed that the Ebstorf world map could be dated to 1213 on account of a supposed hidden date in one of the incompletely-spelled out inscriptions. But Armin Wolf - who has researched and written thoroughly on the map - dismissed this tenuous possibility and has been able to date the Ebstorf map, from its internal historical evidence, to precisely 1239. 7

Francis Herbert
RGS Map Room


  1. R.V. Tooley, 'Maps in Italian atlases of the sixteenth century...' Imago Mundi, 3 (1939), 12-47, item no. 506; A. Ganado, 'Description of an early Venetian sixteenth century collection of maps of the Casanatense Library in Rome', Imago Mundi, 34 (1982), 26-47, item no.69.
  2. Alexander Globe, Peter Stent, London printseller circa 1642-1665... (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1985), no. ?326[sic].
  3. Lothar Zögner, Strassenkarten im Wandel der Zeiten (Ausstellungskatalog 5) (Berlin: Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1975), Nr.10.
  4. Wilhelm Bonacker, Bibliographie der Strassenkarte (Bonn - Bad Godesberg: Kirschbaum, 1973), E.IV.a. œ 24.
  5. Kurt Schmidt, 'Die St. Peterer Globen im Freiburger Augustinermuseum', Information, 11 (März 1986), 7-15 (Wien: Internationale Coronelli Gesellschaft für Globen- und Instrumentenkunde), especially p.8.
  6. James Hilton, Chronograms 5000 and more in number... (London: E. Stock, 1882).
  7. Armin Wolf, 'Nieuws over de Ebstorfer Wereldkaart: datering, herkomst, auteur' (with English summary 'News on the Ebstorf world map: date, origin, authorship'), Caert-Thresoor, 7,2 (1988), 21-30.

Top of page

Francis Herbert: letter in The Map Collector 47 (Summer 1989), p. 54

Two chronograms are reported from dealer Ashley Baynton-Williams and from Dr Rudolf Schmidt of the International Coronelli Society, Vienna. On 'Regna Hispaniarum, atque Portugalliae ...' of Gerard Valk, the dedication concludes: {then repeating the chronogram given in the original article above}.

On Peter Anich's 20cm celestial globe of 1758 (companion to the terrestrial, reported by Barbara McCorkle in TMC 23, p.47) appears the similar phrase 'Servoru[m] PetrVs AnICh AgrICoLa DoMo OberperfassensIs' [=1758) .

Francis Herbert,
RGS Map Room,

Top of page

A Chronogram-dated map of Jerusalem

By R. Rubin

This article appeared originally in The Map Collector 55 (Summer 1991), pp. 30-31. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.

For the same author's later thoughts on this map (not available online) see:

  • Image and Reality: Jerusalem in Maps and Views (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2000), pp. 50-1.
  • 'One city, different views: a comparative study of three pilgrimage maps of Jerusalem', Journal of Historical Geography 32 (2006): 267-90.

Following our earlier correspondence about chronograms (See TMC 22, pp.48-49; TMC 23, p.47; TMC 26, p.45; TMC 37, p.53; TMC 45, pp.50-52; TMC 47, p.54.) Dr Rubin of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem found yet another in a map of Jerusalem drawn and printed by De Pierre in 1728.
For an image see here

THIS LARGE map measuring 534 x 843mm (21 x 33in) was printed from an engraved copper plate and shows the City of Jerusalem and the central part of the Holy Land from the Dead Sea in the east to the coastal plain in the west and from the area of Hebron in the south to the northern outskirts of Jerusalem in the north. The chronogram appears in the third line of the dedication 'Ihro KaIserLIChen KonIgLIChen MaIestät ELIsabetha ChrIstIna VChst VnterthänIgster obserVanz fLeIssIgst abgezeIChnet' {NB ignore capital letters not in bold} (Queen and Empress Elisabeth Christina the Fifth by her loyal subject who drew [the map] carefully).

These letters are used as Roman numerals and by adding them up you get the following result:

I = 1 occurs 13 times = 13
V = 5 occurs 3 times = 15
L = 50 occurs 4 times = 200
C = 100 occurs 5 times = 500
M = 1,000 occurs 1 time = 1,000

Added together these make 1,728 referring to the year of the map's dedication and printing.

This date correlates with the life of Elisabetha Christina (1691-1750) who was born as Elisabeth of Brunswick (Braunschweig), married Charles VI in 1708, and then became Queen of Bohemia and Hungary and Empress of Austria. She was the mother of the famous Maria Theresa. 1

The map details numerous sites and scenes all captioned at the bottom. These include Cain killing Abel, David and Goliath in battle, the site where the star appeared to the three Magi, along with scenes from daily life in Jerusalem during the eighteenth century like the Arab horsemen or the camel caravans approaching the city. I know of only two copies of the map - an uncoloured one in the Laor collection in the Jewish National and University Library in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2 and a coloured copy in the Hauslab-Liechtenstein collection in the Library of Congress, Washington DC. 3

I have not been able to find any information about De Pierre but a number of clues can be drawn from the map itself. As the signature at the bottom of the map identifies him as 'Eques S. S. Sepulchri' it is safe to assume that he was a Roman Catholic who had accomplished a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or even lived in the city for some time. At the top of the map there are three lines in German. The first and second lines are the title, 'A real and thorough drawing of the world renowned and Very Holy City Jerusalem, all the sites in its environs and the Holy Sites, along with things that are worth mentioning that had been sanctified through the Life, Miracles, Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ'. [Wahrer und Gründlicher Abriss der Welt-berühmten und Hochheiligen Stadt Jerusalem aller angrenzenden Ortern und Heiligtümern wie aüch anderer Merctwürdigkeiten welche dürch das Leben, Wunderzeichen, Leiden, Todt, und Auserstehung Jesu Christt sejnd geheiliget worden.] The third line is the dedication and chronogram.


  1. D. G. McGuigan, Habsburgs (New York, 1966) pp.215-220.
  2. Eran Laor, Maps of the Holy Land, a cartobibliography of printed maps, 1475-1900 (New York: Alan R. Liss; Amsterdam: Meridian, 1986) pp.145-146.
  3. R. W. Ristow, 'The Hauslab Liechtenstein Map Collection', edited, with a Foreword, by Ryan J. Moore - Occasional Paper 14 of the Philip Lee Phillips Map Society (summer 2018). Previously in the The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, vol. 35, no. 2 (1978) pp.108-138.
  4. [For an online, dealer's description (undated, seen April 2008), which describes a third surviving example and mentions a fourth, see Antique- World.]

(for a note on chronograms in Hebrew see the comments under '1566' in the Census Notes)

Top of page

A census of known cartographic chronograms

1. Summary listing

Arranged by the year given by the chronogram, which may be different from the map's date of issue, e.g. in the case of a reissue or where it commemorates an event
This is a summary listing; see the Notes section for bibliographical details and references






Internal References




Guillaume du Tielt

siege plan of Ypres


* published in 1610 in an historical work {added 9 August 2017}



Faber von Creuznach, Conrad/Konrad

siege plan of Frankfurt


the chronogram and imprint are both 1552; the British Library catalogue gives 1553 as the publication date (without explanation); the linked scan does not include the chronogram




siege plan of Saint-Quentin

Herbert letter 1 (& p.50)

two chronograms; search Newberry Library Cartographic Catalog for 'chronogram'




East Mediterranean & Holy Land





Blaeu., W. & J.

Carolingian Empire

Campbell letter (&); Mason letter

mistake for 1623 (see Picart); attributed to P. Bertius; in the 1635 Blaeu atlas; scan courtesy of Catawiki auctions



Hogenberg, F.

plan of Neuß


{added 28 April 2008}




Ortelius memorial text

Herbert letter 1

* date should be 1598


& (1)
& (2)

Doetecum, B. van


Herbert letter 1

chronogram refers to drainage date; map published 1600 (in two versions); chronogram repeated by J.Blaeu (1662); scans courtesy of the Zijper Museum




Ortelius memorial text

Herbert letter 1

* date should be 1598



Balthasar, F.

siege plan of Nieuwpoort


* the chronogram spells out the precise date of the Dutch success (2 July 1600); scan courtesy of Leiden University Library {added 28 April 2008}



Hondius, J. (after)

British Isles

Herbert letter 1

also 1643 Stent reissue




medal with plan of siege of Ostend

Herbert letter 1

* two chronograms



Quad, M.

Distance triangle





Blaeu, W.J.


Herbert letter 1 (& p.50)

* chronogram gives evidence of a 1608 version although surviving map is dated 1622



see under 1383






Overadt, P.

view of Antwerp






portrait of W. Camden

Herbert letter 1

* in 1789 & 1806 editions of Britannia; in 1622 Camden founded a history chair at Oxford



Picart, J.

Carolingian Empire

Mason letter (&)

* imprint of J.Boisseau on reverse



Klesius, N.

De Wormer

The lower (text sheet) has the chronogram at the foot; also six, single-line chronograms, showing the workings, at the top of that section {added 7 December 2018}. --



Alardo de Popma

Spanish recapture of Bahia de Todos los Santos


* scan courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library {added 9 August 2017}



Sandrart, J.



{added 28 April 2008}




medal with plan of the siege of Vienna





Abraham ben Yaacov

Holy Land


* scan courtesy of the Jewish National and University Library




medal with map of the conquest of Hungary and Siebenburgen





Valk, G.

Spain and Portugal

Campbell article (&)

scan courtesy of the Biblioteca Nacional de España (click right arrow)


< https://www.raremaps.com/maps/medium/46964.jpg > &


portrait of Charles VI

Herbert letter 1 (& p.52)

* in some Homann atlases; 1711 was the year Charles became Holy Roman Emperor.






* {added 28 April 2008}



Homann, J.B. [by Johann Peter Nell]

Germany (post roads)

Herbert letter 1 (& p.51)

* two chronograms; a scan (formerly on the site of the Antique Print Room) is of a later plate with, apparently, the same chronograms



Homann, J.B.

Holy Roman Empire


* {added 28 April 2008}



Bodenehr, G.

view of Belgrade


* {added 28 April 2008}



Biberger, J.U.



{added 28 April 2008}



Nigrin, J.

Silesia Superior


* two chronograms; scan courtesy of Projekt Staré Mapy {added 28 April 2008}



De Pierre


Rubin article (&)

* scans courtesy of the Jewish National and University Library, and Antique-World



Riedinger, G.



{added 28 April 2008}



Haehn, J.F.

Germany (four engravings)


{added 28 April 2008}



Breÿer, J.N.


Herbert letter 1 (& p.51)




Haehn, J.F.

Germany (five engravings)


an extension of the 1751 Germany multiple sheet, with a second chronogram for 1758 {added 28 April 2008}



Anich, P.

celestial globe gores (20cm)

Herbert letter 2

* pair with the terrestrial, and repeats its chronogram; scan courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich



Anich, P.

terrestrial globe gores (20cm)

McCorkle letter (&)

* pair with the celestial, and repeats its chronogram; scan courtesy of the National Library of Australia



Bieheler, L

celestial globe by T. Rinderle

Herbert letter 1


&      provides a link to an online illustration
(&)   indicates an illustration in The Map Collector issue referred to [it is hoped to be able to add those to this page later]
*      indicates those that are dated ONLY by their chronogram, i.e. the date is not spelled out (as understood from the catalogue descriptions)

Titles in italics are not maps but chronograms with a cartographic connection

Top of page

2. Notes to the census

      IKAR. A number of additional examples [with the date '28 April 2008' in the final column above] were found by searching in the German union catalogue of pre-1850 maps, IKAR - Landkartendrucke vor 1850 . Select 'Datenbank' and enter 'chronogramm' [note the ending] into 'Suchen', to bring up 33 entries (though many are repeats). [There were 38 entries in December 2016 but no new ones.]

1383.   Siege of Ypres. See Update (9 August 2017)

1552.  Siege of Frankfurt. From the British Library catalogue: "Francofordiae ac Emporii Germaniae Celeberrimi Effigatio [sic] qualis quidem tum cernebatur, quum tempore Gallicae Confederationis gravi obsidione premeretur ... vero ... denuo liberata, consisteret. Anno Domini MDLII. [Drawn originally by Conrad Fabri {=Faber}, and engraved by Hans Graf or Grave. A modern facsimile with MS. account of the siege, dated Sept. 5, 1832]. Maps C.25.a.22".
Chronogram: 'CaroLe QVInte tibI FranCforDIa Casar aDharens, VICtrIX grata tVIs perstItIt aVXILIIs'.
Search the IKAR 'Datenbank' for 'Konrad Faber', to find six entries for various later and facsimile editions. See also the lot-tissimo auction description, which refers to Johann von Glauburg and Johann Völkerus, and supplies the following references: Slg. Stiebel I, 1 (erwähnt auch diese Ausg.); vgl. Fauser 4067 (mit diesem Titel, s. auch 4066); Bachmann III, 354, Thieme/B. XI, 148/9 u. Drugulin, Bilderatlas II, 148. For an account of the plan see: Fried Lübbecke, 'Konrad Fabers Belagerungsplan von Frankfurt a. M. 1552' Jahresgabe für die Mitglieder des Bundes tätiger Altstadtfreunde zu Frankfurt am Main 1945 (Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, 1945), and here for a good scan of a later copy, with the title supplied in modern lettering, but with the chronogram, which comes at the end, omitted].

1557.  Saint-Quentin (siege). 'S. Qvintano : Gallorum strages die x Augousti expugnatio vrbis die xxvii eiusdem. MDLVII'.
Two chronograms: (1) 'De Philippo Catholico Hisp. Angliae etc. Rege Inuictiss. Pijssimo et cet. AD DIVVM LAVRENTIVM. LVX tVa faVsta pIo, LaVrentI, hInC fert tIbI CLaras PrIMItIas VICtore rIte PhILIppVs oVans Augustus docuit quod et hic Augustus in armis, Caesaris inuicti est filius, acta probant'; (2) ' De feliciss.a et gloriossis:a Ill.mi et Ex:mi Philiberti Sabaudiae Ducis Victoria SoLIs In opposItV et LVnae DVX Ipse Cohortes HIC Vna heV VICtas GaLLe SabaVDVs ago It: Quintini malo erant Quintili mense medendum. Ter nona Augusti hoc experimenta docent' [both = 1557].
The wording of the first chronogram includes "die x Augousti expugnatio vrbis die xxvii eiusdem" [10-27 August] and the second "nona Augusti" [9 August]. The French (Gaspard de Coligny) were defeated by a Spanish force (Philibert Emanuel of Savoy) on 10 August 1557.
Newberry Library Cartographic Catalog: records 9223 & 9224, but search for 'chronogram'. Illustration.

1566?   East Mediterranean and Holy Land (Hebrew). Rehav Rubin, 'A sixteenth-century Hebrew map from Mantua', Imago Mundi 62:1 (2010): 30-45 (passage below from p. 39; see also fig.6 illustrating the chronogram); H. J. Haag, 'Die vermutlich älteste bekannte hebräische Holzschnittkarte des Heiligen Landes (um 1560)', Cartographica Helvetica, 4 (1991): 23-26.
Woodcut printed in Mantua; only known copy in the Zentralbibliothek, Zürich. [On Hebrew maps see also under 1695.]

Update note (10 June 2008) from Mr Haag. "There is no discussion of the chronogram in the cited publication by H.J. Haag as the chronogram in Psalm 36,10 just above the seven-armed candlestick [Menorah] (in the right bottom map corner) seems to be problematic in order to date the map. However, if one regards one R [RESH] as dotted by mistake, the chronogram would sum up to [5]326 (i.e. c.1565) instead of actually [5]526 (i.e. c.1765). This would come close to the suggested date of c.1560 found from other evidence."

Further update note (10 February 2010). Rehav Rubin explained the chronogram as follows:
"Ten letters [----------] are individualized by dots above them to indicate a chronogram giving the date of the map according to the numerical values of the Hebrew letters. The chronogram is easily translated into the number 526 of the fifth millennium after the Creation of the world according to the Jewish era, that is, the year 1766. [In order to calculate a year according to the Jewish era in the common era in the last millennium, one should add 1240]. This is puzzling. Since the names of the two known sixteenth-century artists, Yitzhak Ben Shmuel Basan and Joseph Ben Yaacov are both clearly given at the end of the text, the map must be dated to the sixteenth century. However, if an error is assumed in the placing of the dots (for instance, on one of two occurrences of the letter [-] (= 200)), the date becomes 1566, fitting with the publication evidence already noted." [Omitting the Hebrew letters, for technical reasons].

1573.  Carolingian Empire. 'Imperii Caroli Magni et vicinarum regionum descriptio, Dedicata et inscripta LVDoVICo, regI, VICtorI, et DefensorI eCClesIae ChrIstI, ab Auctore Petro Bertio eiusdem Cosmographo'. Version found in the Blaeu atlas.
Chronogram (embedded in the dedication above) [= 1573 - a mistake for 1623 because the 'L' of 'Ecclesiae' was not capitalised; some of the WorldCat entries give the date as 1622]. See also under 1623 below. Image.

(1586).  Neuß. 'Neus'. Town plan of Neuß in North Rhine-Westphalia (28 x 19 cm), engraved by Frans Hogenberg, from his Geschichtsblätter (Cologne, c.1600).
Chronogram: 'NVssIa de nIhILo Vano CognoMIne dIcta NVssea sIC nVLLa, es nVssea nVLLa fore' [=1486]. As transcribed in the two records traced on IKAR, the 'c' of 'dIcta' was not capitalised. Taking that into account would give 1586, the date of a fire that destroyed much of the city (which the view graphically depicts), i.e. the chronogram is not a publication date. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1594.  Ortelius memorial text. Chronogram details not available.

1597.  [Zype] 'De kaart van Doetecomius'
Chronogram: 'SeVen en tWIntICh Iaer door de Zeebaren kLaer Was t'zIIpLant beLast geLt en handen te gaer MaeCten Weder daer een LangedIICk Vast'; see the excellent illustration of the chronogram near the foot of the page (note that each of the three instances of 'W' should be read as two 'V's).
Under 'Beschrijvingen', there is a repeat of Günter Schilder's description from Volume VII of Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica, explaining that its date, 1597, refers to the year the polder's draining was completed. The words "SeVen en tWIntICh Iaer" [27 years] presumably refer to the length of time taken to reclaim the land. The map, by the surveyor Gerrit Dirksz Langedijk, was published in 1600 and reissued in 1620/30. It measures 58.5 x 47 cm.
There is another, smaller version (31 x 24 cm ) c. 1600, also engraved by Doetecum, and reproducing the same chronogram, but vertically [Zijper Museum].

1599.  Ortelius memorial text. Chronogram details not available.

1600.  Nieuwpoort (siege). 'Slag bij Nieuwpoort', a four-sheet news plan by Floris Balthasar (58.5 × 88 cm), c.1601.
Chronogram (by Hugo Grotius) as the title; the original is all in capitals but with the relevant letters enlarged: VInCI tVr aLbertVs qVIntILIs soLe seCVndo MaVrItIVs VIn CIt beLLIgerante deo [=1600].
For a description and references see the entry in the 1987 'Goed Gezien' exhibition., with an Image.
As Joe McCollum pointed out, in a private communication (3 May 2008), this chronogram does more than give just the year [1600]. The first part of the inscription, 'VInCItVr aLbertVs qVIntILIs soLe seCVndo', states that Archduke Albert was defeated on the "second sun of the fifth month" [i.e. 2 July].
Leiden University Library, Collectie Bodel Nijenhuis: 009-14-004.

1603.  British Isles. 'Angliae et Hiberniae nova descriptio veteribus et recentioribus nominibus'.
Chronogram: 'Absoluta opus hoc est anno MIserICorDIae...' [=1603].
Rodney W. Shirley, Early printed maps of the British Isles 1477-1650: a bibliography (London, 1980), nos 254 & 525, plate 52.


  • Ostend. Chronogram: 'ITANE FLANDRIAM LIBERAS IBER' [=1604].
    Bernard Grothues, 'Het chronogram als versieringselement op penningen', De Beeldenaar 5 (1986) pp. 407-22 [see 408-9, describing the 1604 medal of the siege of Ostend].
  • Vienna, and Hungary & Siebenburgen. Bernard Grothues, 'Opleving van de penningkunst in West-Europa na de belegering van Wenen door de Turken in 1683' [The revival of numismatics in Western Europe after the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683], Muntkoerier ('the only independent magazine in the Benelux for collectors of coins, medals and bank notes'), 12, Jrg. 12 (December 1983) [describing the 1683 medal of the siege of Vienna, and the 1699 medal of the conquest of Hungary and Siebenburgen - both in the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, respectively, Inv. Nr. 3608 - Lit: Hirsch 9; and Inv. Nr. 4012 - Lit. Montenuovo 1156].
I am most grateful to Bernard Grothues for supplying these references (March 2008). Since chronograms and maps occur quite frequently on medals, it seems likely that other medals combining those two features will be identified in future.

1605.  Distance triangle. Personal communication from Peter H. Meurer (April 2008). A distance triangle, 40.5 x 54.5 cm, separately published in 1605 by B. Caymox in Nuremberg (private collection in Germany). 'NEWE FORM EINER LANDTAFEL DER FVRNEMBSTEN VND BERVMBSTEN STETT IN DER WELT, SONDRLICH IN EVROPA ... In der weitberumbten Reichsstat Nurnberg, bei Balthasar Caimox, burger und Kunst drucker daselbs. Laminae autem aeneae incidebat Matthias Quadus. Anno MIserICorDIae et patIentIae'. See also: Peter H. Meurer, 'Zur Frühgeschichte der Entfernungsdreiecke', Cartographica Helvetica 24 (2001), pp.9-19.

1608.  Netherlands. 'Nieuwe ende waarachtighe beschrijvinghe der zeventien Nederlanden...' (Amsterdam: Blaeu, 1622). The chronogram gives evidence of a 1608 version although the surviving map is dated 1622.
Chronogram: 'ItaLVs, HIspanVs, BVrgVndIo, BeLga, SaCerdos, gens dIspar, CaVjae sed parItate pares, Foedera pertraCrant PaCIs, fors annVat [ae]qVa, HIspano et BeLgae Vortat VtrIMqVe benè. MCCCCLLLVVVVVVVVVVIIIIIIII. MV' [=1608]. Note that the instances of 'd' [=500] are not capitalised, and the Roman numerals are written out at the end, as a kind of checklist. The final 'MV' on a separate line has a different purpose. On this see also 'Puzzelen om te dateren', a note by Lode Goukens (2010). Illustration.

1610.   Siege of Ypres (1383). See Update (9 August 2017)

1612.  Antwerp. 'Antverpia totius inferioris Germaniae nobilissima et dvcatvs Brabantiae primaria vrbs' (Cologne: Peter Overadt, 1612).
Peter H. Meurer, 'The Cologne map publisher Peter Overadt (fl.1590-1652)', Imago Mundi 53 (2001), see pp. 39-40, fig.8 [the chronogram is not clear enough for confident transcription.]

1622.  Camden portrait. Chronogram details not available.

1623.  Carolingian Empire. Untitled, four-sheet map. Ioannes Picart incidit. LVT. PARIS. Cum Priuileg. As Roger Mason noted, 'a printed gazetteer pasted on the back bears the imprint of Joanem Boisseau of Paris'. See the note to the '1573' Blaeu version.
Chronogram: 'LVDoVICo, regI, VICtorI, et DefensorI eCCLesIae ChrIstI. Kal.Feb.An. [MD]CXXIII. [= 1 February 1623]. Illustration.

1625.   Creating the Wormer polder in 1624. See Update (7 December 2018)

1625.   Spanish recapture of Bahia de Todos los Santos. See Update (9 August 2017)

1664.  Hungary. 'Neue Land-Tafel von Hungarn und dessen incorporirten Königreichen und Provinzen: auß den besten Mappen verfertigt und gebessert' (Nuremberg: Jacob Sandrart, 1664). (Evidently found in: Louis Vlasblom, Universum Totale, Sive Rerum Visibilium Compendium).
Chronogram: 'Gott steVre DeM bLVtgIrIgen Türken AntIChrIst' [=1664]. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]
[Addendum note, 12 January 2010: Peter Barber showed me an example in British Library, Maps K.Top.110.83, which reveals that the map does not otherwise have a date. The old British Museum cataloguer evidently noticed the chonogram, since the date was given as [1664?].]

1683 (Medal - Vienna), see under 1604.

1695.  Holy Land (Hebrew). Harold Brodsky, 'The Seventeenth-Century Haggada map of Avraham Bar Yaacov', Jewish Art, 19/20 (1993/4), pp. 149-157.
I am most grateful to Rehav Rubin, who adds the following notes:
The map appeared in the Amsterdam Passover Haggaddah - Seder Haggadah shel Pesah (Amsterdam: Anschel and Issachar ben Eliezer, [5]455 =1695). The chronogram is found in a long sentence in the upper left margin and can be recognized by the fact that some of the letters are marked with dots on top. Adding up the numerical value of these dotted letters gives the date in the Jewish calendar. For example, a=1; b=2; c=3; .... Yod (I) = 10; and then 11 is a+I (Yod and Aleph); like the Yota Kapa in Greek; Kaf is 20, etc.
In this case, for the second edition it was possible to update the chronogram year by adding dots on the top of other letters. For an image see the scan from the Jewish National and University Library, in Jerusalem.

On Hebrew chronograms generally see the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia (freely accessible); and on Hebrew numerical values, see 'Gematria' by David Derovan, Gershom Scholem, and Moshe Idel, in: Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (eds), Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), Vol. 7, pp.424-7 (available online through subscribing libraries). [For another Hebrew map see under 1566.]

1699 (Medal - Hungary and Siebenburgen), see under 1604.

1704.  Spain & Portugal. 'Regna Hispaniarum, atque Portugalliae ... suas in provincias, territoria, et dioeceses; geographicè, politicè, ecclesiasticè, subdistincta per G. Valk'.
Chronogram: 'VIVat HIspanorVM Penes EVropaeos InDos et VtrosqVe TertIVs ReX CaroLVs!' [= 1704].
Image - click right arrow for catalogue description and scan.

1711.  Charles VI portrait. Chronogram: 'Me DeCet Corona SeXtI' [= 1711]. Illustration.

1714.  Germany. 'Germania: secundum VI. Fluvios suos coloribus distincta / ad usum Quaestionum Geographicarum Cl. Hübneri. Exc. Chri. Weigel. M. K. Sc.' (Nuremberg: Johann Ernst Adelbulner [1719]). Found in Johann D. Köhler, Bequemer Schul- und Reisen-Atlas.
Chronogram: 'DItIa sUnt heIC MUnera PaCIs' [=1714]. There appears to be another version of the map, also 33 x 26 cm, with the title given as 'Germania in Circulos divisa / Excud. Christ. Weigelio. M. K. Sc.', and assigned to the same atlas (unless the map has two titles and imprints). [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1714.  Germany (post roads). 'Postarum seu Veredariorum Stationes per Germaniam et Provincias' / 'Neuvermehrte Post-Charte durch gantz Teutschland'. (Nuremberg: Homann [various dates])
Two chronograms: (1) ' ... paX gerManIae rastaDII paCta et sanCIta est'; (2) 'Marte Catenato trIbVIt DeVs otIa paCIs' [= 1714].

1714.  Holy Roman Empire. 'Imperium Romano-Germanicum In Suos Circulos, Electoratus Et Status accuratè distinctum / á Ioh. Bapt. Homanno'. Found in J.B. Homann's Grosser Atlas Über die Gantze Welt.
Chronogram: 'ProfLIgatI VenIt MoDo LaVrca beLLI' [=1714]. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1717.  View of Belgrade. 'Bellogradum Vi Capitur / Gabriel Bodenehr sculps. et excud. Aug. Vin.' (Amsterdam: Iustus Danckers, n.d.).
Chronogram: 'BeLLograDVM VI CapItVr' [=1717]. It is not clear why this is described as published in Amsterdam by Danckerts when the map itself states it was published by G. Bodenehr in Augsburg. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1717.  'Hungaria Cum Reliqua Moderni Cum Turcis Belli Sedes / Ioa. Ulr. Biberger sculp. Calco.' (Vienna, 1717).
Chronogram: 'sCUtUM ConstantIa et fortItUDo' [=1717]. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1724.  Upper Silesia. 'Ducatus In Silesia Superiore Teschinensis cum adiacentibus Regnorum vicinorum, Hungariae videlicet et Poloniae, nec non Marchionatus Moraviae etc. Terminis, Mappa Specialis: [gewidmet] Leopoldo Iosepho Carolo / conatu, opera et sumtibus Ionae Nigrini sedulò delineata sculpta et excusa candideque publicata'. [Place of publication not known.]
Two chronograms: (1) FaC, DeVs! assIDVè Constent LotharIngICa sCeptra, ContInVatâ ILLIs gLorIa sIt serIe!; (2) Et pLaCeat SVperIs PrInCeps, aC paLMa Corona LegetVr StIrpI seCVLa perpetVa [both = 1724]. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.] Image.

1728.  Jerusalem. 'Wahrer und Gründlicher Abriss der Welt-berühmten und Hochheiligen Stadt Jerusalem' ([Germany?]: De Pierre, 1728). [see Rubin article].
Chronogram: 'Ihro KaIserLIChen KonIgLIChen MaIestät ELIsabetha ChrIstIna VChst VnterthänIgster obserVanz fLeIssIgst abgezeIChnet' [= 1728]. Image.

1749.  Aschaffenburg. Prospectiva oder Anblick der Churfuerstl[ichen] Residentz-Stadt Aschaffenburg und daselbstigen Schlosses sambt einer kurtzen Beschreibung / Georg Riedinger delin. et Baumeister. Henericus I. Ostertag. et Henericus H. Cöntgen sculp. Mag. [Mainz: Gedruckt und zu bekommen in Sti. Rochi Hospital, 1749). Two views on a sheet, 45 x 52 cm.
Chronogram: 'O Gott! thVe VnserM Herrn sehr spathe Iahr VerLeIhen, So hoffen VVIr, Er VVIrD aLso Vns noCh offt erfreVen!' [=1749]. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

1751.  (Germany). Four engravings on one sheet, 45 x 60 cm: Brandenburg & Pommern; Bareuth & Anspach; Germany; Schlesien. 'Celsissimo Principi Regio, Friderico Wilhelmo, Borussiae Principi, Marggravio Brandenb. etc. etc. Gaudio Regis, deliciis Parentum, augusti generis et genii haeredi faVsto atqVe Laeto VIII. nataLI, D. XXV. SepteMbrIs aVspICato celsissimae domus Brandenburgicae delineationem / animo devotissimo offert Joannes Fridericus Haehn. J. D. Schleuen sculpsit' (Berlin: Buchladen der Real-Schule, 1751).
Chronogram picked out in the title, beginning 'faVsto' = 1751. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]
See under 1758 for a comment on the date.

1757.  Prague. 'Kurtze doch wahrhaffte Nachricht Was waehrend der durch dem im Jahr 1757, beschehen Preussichen gewaltsamen Einfall ... Belagerung der Koenigl. Haupt und Residenz Stadt Prag'. Drawn by surveyor J.N. Breÿer, engraved by I. Saltzer in Prague.
Chronogram: 'IgneIs qVas MIttIs reX prVsse ab parCe sagIttIs Intro VIX IbIs neCet absqVe rVbore reDIbIs' [= 1757]. Illustration.

1758.  (Germany). Five engravings on two sheets, 51 x 105 cm, comprising the four listed under the 1751 entry and a plan of Berlin. 'Bildliche Vorstellung des Königl. Preuss. Churf- und Marckgraefl. Hauses Brandenburg, mit den zur Historie nöthigen Stücken aus der Geographie, Genealogie, Heraldic und Numismatic: Celsissimo Principi Regio, Friderico Wilhelmo, Borussiae Principi Marggravio Brand. Oculo Regis deliciis Parentis Augusti Generis et genii haeredi, Hanc celsissimae domus Brandenburgicae delineationem [1st] faVsto atqVe Laeto VIII. nataLI, D. XXV. SepteMbrIs aVspICato primo excusam [2nd] aC nataLI DeCIMo qVInto denuo recusam / animo devotissimo D. D. D. Joannes Fridericus Haehn. J. D. Schleuen fec.' (Berlin: Real-Schule, 1758).
Two different chronograms: the first [=1751] is a repeat of that on the map with title beginning 'Celsissimo Principi Regio, Friderico Wilhelmo, Borussiae Principi, Marggravio Brandenb.'; the second [=1758] has been prepared for this later version, which adds a second sheet containing a 'Plan von den Sechs Städten der Königl. und Churf. Residenz Berlin'. [via the IKAR 'Datenbank' - see the headnote to this section.]

There is a minor confusion about the precise dates given in this and the earlier version of 1751. Frederick William II was born on 25 September 1744. The 1751 chronogram refers to his 8th birthday [VIII. nataLI], but this would have taken place in 1752. Likewise, the 1758 chronogram cites his 15th birthday [nataLI DeCIMo qVInto], when that would have occurred in the following year. There is no possibility that a Berlin publisher who specifically issued two versions of this map to celebrate the birthday of the prince (who, by the time of his birthday in 1758 was the heir to the empire) could have made a mistake. Might there have been a convention in Germany at that time of designating a person's birth as their 'first birthday'?

1758.  Anich 20 cm celestial globe. Title and chronogram both repeat the wording on the terrestrial pair, see next entry. Image - detail of the cartouche (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich).

1758.  Anich 20 cm terrestrial globe. 'Excelsae Repraesentationi Regio-Caesareae Oenipontanae. Cujus gratiosis favoribus privilegium artefacta sua distrahendi gratus adscribit, Mappas Has utriusque Globi Astronomici et Geographici ex Doppelmayeri et Hasii Mappis planis huc applicatis à se excusas summa qua par est veneratione Dicat Dedicat Servorum infirmus et Obsequentissimus' (Innsbruck, 1758).
Chronogram: 'PetrVs AnICh AgrICoLa DoMo OberperfassensIs' [=1758]. Image.

1781.  Bieheler/Rinderle globe. 'Compiled and drawn by Landelin Bieheler and made by Thaddius Rinderle at St Peter's Benedictine monastery in the Black Forest'. Chronogram: 'LIncVIt In Isto MonasterIo reLIgIosVs fr. LanDeLInVs bIeheLer IbI professVs' [=1781].
Kurt Schmidt, 'Die St. Peterer Globen im Freiburger Augustiner-museum', Information (Wien: Coronelli-Gesellschaft für Globe- und Instrumentenkunde), 11 (March 1986) pp.7-15 [previously published in Zeitschrift des Breisgau-Geschichtsvereines 101 (1982).

Top of page

Other general references

Chronogram (a useful introduction by Jürgen Köller, though mostly concerned with German buildings).

James Hilton, Chronograms 5000 and more in number excerpted from various authors and collected at many places (London: Elliot Stock, 1882); and supplements from the same publisher: Chronograms continued and concluded (1885), and Chronograms collected - more than 4000 in number (1895). [This last is available online from Google Books.] In 1989, the British Library acquired further Hilton material, Additional MSS 68939-41, on which see the online Manuscripts Catalogue [select "Index search" from the top line, then enter ''hilton' in the first line and 'james' in the second, to retrieve a list of MSS by him or owned by him]. A search on the British Library Integrated Catalogue, for 'hilton, james' as author and restricting the date to '1860->1920', brings up some other publications by him, including a further example of his major work, 'Humanities Cup.410.g.419', which has additional material. These other works have not been consulted.

Veronika Marschall, Das Chronogramm: eine Studie zu Formen und Funktionen einer literarischen Kunstform: dargestellt am Beispiel von Gelegenheitsgedichten des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts aus den Beständen der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Frankfurt am Main; New York: P. Lang, 1997).

Wikipedia (though largely concerned with Hebrew examples). "Chronograms in versification are referred to as chronosticha, if they are a hexameter, and chronodisticha if they are a distich".

'LIncVIt In Isto MonasterIo reLIgIosVs fr. LanDeLInVs bIeheLer IbI professVs' (= 1781)

Top of page

HOME (main menu)  |  Tony Campbell articles menu  |  Index   |   Sitemap   |   What this site is about   |   What's New

eXTReMe Tracker