Painting of Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby by James Tissot

Slim Paley Photo

Slim Paley photo

From the top of the mountains in Montecito, CA. this afternoon.



I love this saying.  The phrase denotes dangerous or unexplored territories  and derives from the medieval practice of painting dragons or sea serpents and other mythical creatures in uncharted or blank areas of maps.   I thought of it today when a friend and I hiked up to the top of the mountains above my home in Santa Barbara.  As you can see, it was the most glorious of Autumn afternoons, and the endless vista over the Pacific Ocean reminded me – Oh yes, Here indeed Be Dragons..

Then, lo and behold,  tonight, I saw real Dragons – much scarier than any our imaginations could possibly conjure!

OMG-  another doozy episode. I cringe for Kelsey Grammer.

But all is not lost, or adrift in treacherous territory, so don’t write me off as a completely vapid HWOBH addict just yet…

I offer you some charming and fun ways to bring the real beauty of cartography into your home-

sans serpents & silicone!

Some classic music to travel by (I’ve Got The World On a String- Frank Sinatra)


Nate Turner Design

Replica of vintage map of London from Restoration Hardware

Restoration Hardware.

Map of Paris cake via cakeasart

The true story of the “Al Capone” of map thievery.

Map Chest from


Slim Paley photo

The Palazzo Farnese

The “Map Room” of a beautiful private villa outside of Rome (people really lived like this!)

Slim Paley photo

Axis Maps has created these amazing maps made up entirely of text.

OK, I’ll admit it.  I think it’s magic.

Both levitating globes available on

Scratch off Maps via I Want One Of

via Martha Stewart Magazine.

Ballard Design


Book shelves and a ceiling “wallpapered” with map wrapping paper via Garden & Gun

Slim Paley photo

A panel (one of forty) in the “Map Room” of the Vatican

Slim Paley Photo

The story of the man who first mapped the earth from beneath the surface (by fossils and rock layers)


Little White Dog on Etsy

While compiling this I remembered reading somewhere that the London Tube Map had been voted the most beautiful subway map in the world.

So I typed  “The Most Beautiful Map in the World” into Google. Guess what? Google doesn’t believe that’s what you really want to know. They keep insisting you mean “The Most Beautiful MAN in the World”.  Seriously. And some of their choices are questionable.  Don’t believe everything you read on Google-No photos of Sawyer anywhere…although Joni over at Cote de Texas‘ favourite guy made the cut.   Check it out if you don’t believe me (after you finish my post of course 🙂 )

Restoration Hardware


The Gold and Gem-Set Cigarette Case, Cartier 1935  (Estimate 150,000-200,000 (British pounds) ) to be auctioned at Sotheby’s November 30th, 2010

Say what you might about the Duke & Duchess of Windsor- they had amazing style and a flair for choosing romantic gifts for each other.

Cartier was commissioned to design this cigarette case commemorating the three holiday voyages Edward  and Wallis took together during 1934-1935- a particularly poignant time in their relationship, as Edward made the historical decision to abdicate in order to marry Wallis less than a year later.


I had a boyfriend once who gave me a full Car and Tire Repair Kit for my birthday.

I’m just sayin’

Perhaps that’s why, many years later, I bought myself several pairs of the The Duchess’ evening gloves from the famous Duke & Duchess of Windsor auction (1997) at Sotheby’s.

Take that Car Repair Kit Boyfriend.

“Gerhard Mercator 1595 World Atlas- Cosmographicae”

Gerhard Mercator was the greatest cartographer of the 16th century- his most famous contribution being “Mercator’s projection” the technique of rendering the globe onto a flat surface.

Whatever would he made of G.P.S. ?!

I always have some map wrapping paper on hand for gifts for boys. I like it tied with plain, rough brown twine- no bows of course. Stocking up on a few plastic dragons from a toy store could complete the package- a perfect moment to teach kids what “Here Be Dragons” means!

Above photo via Curious Sofa

Bought these fun paper place mats at Pierre La Fond Upstairs in Montecito. A tablet of 50 with city maps of NY, Tokyo, London & Paris

Another fun teaching tool for kids!  Also available on line at Switch

A beautiful and unusual map

(photo via Cote de Texas)

Susan Stockwell.

Paper Map dresses by

artist Susan Stockwell.


P.S. I intended including some travel/map “Apps” on this post, but seeing as I’ve already time traveled way past midnight, I’m going to leave those, and any other cool cartographic comments open to suggestions…


Navigate Safely Friends 🙂



  1. You are making me feel right on target. Just bought some 18th c. maps (America and Paris)–now I’m inspired to get them framed and into inventory. I love this post –I learned volumes. Thanks. Mary

  2. hi slim,

    i am probably the least well-traveled person i know but that does not mean i don’t love maps. i think they are beautiful and you have shown amazing examples. my favorite though is the last one, the greeting card that says…wherever you are, it is your friends that make your world. i need about 12 of those.

    have a great weekend.


  3. I love this post! One of my favorite things to do is just sit and look through an atlas. When I was a teenager I took the maps that came with my National Geographic magazines and wallpapered my ceiling with them. I thought I was pretty clever, but apparently I wasn’t the first to think of that, lol!

  4. As always “Slim” a wonderful blog. I especially like the world/map wrapping paper.
    Let’s them know too, “the world is theirs” and their lives and the shaping of the world in the future is in their hands . Oh those subtle messages…… Now the map and philosophy are linked……
    Happy weekend where ever you are on the map….

  5. When you take us somewhere Slim, you really, really take us there. I learnt more about maps here than I did in school. That they can be make into dresses for one, even levitate, but the gift wrap idea is stylishly masculine. Happy weekend. XO

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more regarding your comments about the RHOBH – wow. All of the images of maps are stunning. I love the idea of the “scratch maps” to catalogue where one has traveled.

    Recently I stopped into Restoration Hardware, and the first thing that caught my eye was the oversized framed map of Paris. They really are a versatile decorating accessory. Thank you for sharing all of the images. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

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  8. How lovely to start the day with Frank and all of the wonderful, inspiring photos of beautiful maps, not to mention some perfect gift ideas! My husbands g-g-grandfather was a sea captain, we have his old maps, marked and noted upon framed in our family room. They are not very ornate, no dragons, but I love seeing the former borders and names.

    Your hike looks just amazing — how beautiful.

  9. Maps! A total obsession of mine, thanks for picking up on that…
    Have always used them to paper at least one smallish area, entrance hall in NY,
    small study in Long Island, (antique Long Island maps, amongst the best!)
    a powder room, etc. That map of Paris cake was astonishing.
    I can open an atlas and not come out of the trance for hours, even of one city.
    (Not every city of course) but almost.
    Thanks Slim.

  10. Love the map art, just gorgeous.

    So when my son was born he really ruled the roost around here, from nanny, to neighbors to Nana. For his first birthday I had a map of the world put on his cake and wrote on it…”One Karl to rule them all”.

    I think I love maps because I love to travel. sigh…


  11. I also really loved this post, one of my favourites i think.

    Also somewhat educational, I mean who knew that Kelsey Grammer’s wife was in HWOBH ?

  12. Maps… how interesting… trying to find a place when all that we intent is to get lost, so maybe one day we find what we’re really looking for.

    The beauty of this post is that even if we can have maps covering every single little “rues” of this world, yet we wouldn’t be able to keep track of all the places that we’ve been or we’ll be going… life is so unpredictable and so is our path.

    Luciane at

    Yeah… sometimes I can philosophy even with pieces of paper… lol

  13. Hi Slim-

    Another blog post that is PERFECTION. You are amazing. I love maps and books and here you delivered a world class sampling. Yet amidst all the beauty I too marvel at the Housewives – I can’t NOT watch! I feel a tiny bit better that someone with great taste also watches this train wreck in awe. so, so horrible from every aspect. For some reason, last week’s over the top Mad Hatter Tea Party topped with the beyond intolerable Russell gifting the puppy in spite of his wife is most memorable.

    Happy weekend!

  14. Wow—was there anything better than a Harold Arlen and Frank Sinatra collaboration? I have every single rendition from all the greats on this tune.
    Okay–this is one of my favorite Slim’s. I’ve been obsessed with maps since a wee girl when I thrilled to my very first placemat map at Howard Johnson’s. I’ve used maps as wrapping paper for years and always try and get the country outlines to balance perfectly atop the package–a bit obsessive, but that’s me.
    Perfection, Slim. You just keep topping yourself.

  15. so good- so rich
    thank you so much for all you do to lift the spirit
    and inspires me to get off my kiester
    and get moving
    the last pic is BYB
    (beyond the beyond)
    as you are

  16. I am guessing it ultimately wouldn’t have worked out with Tire Repair Kit Boyfriend. How funny, some guys have no idea.

    Great post. I love love maps. Hope to force my children round to same view also.


    • To say the least! Trying to think of a worse present….

      It’s difficult….

      Maybe a DIET book??!

      hmmm….you might have just given me an idea for a new post Jane!

  17. SP ~ Beautiful as usual. As my sister says “It’s hard to have a narrow mind with a wide passport”…Seeing the World, my favorite pastime.

  18. Ah, maps – one of my pet addictions since a little boy – many moons ago. I think I got started on maps through my boyhood hobby of stamp collecting (at about age 10, and I still have the album!). But as you would say, I digress – the stamps led to an interest in geography, and thus naturally to maps, of all kinds. To this day I probably look at one map or another every week, often relevant to some item of daily news. I can even take out the Rand McNally road atlas and study it for an hour! Thanks for an interesting post.

  19. working on a bermuda destination wedding save-the-date and scanned a vintage map of bermuda and printed it at 25% to use as the mailing label for a tidy package of event details tucked into a ???? have to keep that secret. Anyway, maps make fun labels too and even letterpress really well for fabulous invitations.

  20. Beautiful mountain view. Watched the BH Housewives – I thought Camille’s handsome young friend looked a bit sad (next to his wife) talking about their baby and all. Guess he’s in trouble! Love the maps. I have a few Christie’s and Sotheby’s catalogs including the Windsor sale. Never have purchased anything sorry to say – love to look though. I’ll have to peruse it again soon.

  21. Dragons and BH Housewives, and Frank – all before 7 a.m. in the morning! Very scary, very. Give those Bhers some carbs, and get rid of all that hair – yuck – all mermaidy and scary. Mermaids and sea dragons – too early in the morning for this!
    A King’s case – now that is something I can wrap my mind around this early – so beautiful!!!

  22. I swear, Slim, little else sets up yearning in me the way this blog does. You are a master. Trivia – the Duke of Windsor’s golf ball once whizzed so closely past my Mum’s head, he marched right over to her to apologize for his mistake. Cool, huh? Your blog is the absolute best. Thanks, Slim

  23. Hi!
    A very cool woman, now gone, (but lived to 97!) travelled more than anyone I have ever known! She had a room with the map of the world on one large wall……and little pushpins in all the places she had been.

    It was smashing! I love this post!

    the room with wallpapererd ceiling and baskets is so chic!

  24. The round framed map is beautiful. Great find. As always LOVED the blog and you as well!
    I am always happy after I read your blog……really.

  25. Maps as art – fabulous. In my first lesson as an volunteer art teacher for K-1 kids, I used maps as examples since everything starts with lines.

    In the fashion world, might I suggest this blog:
    Scroll down to see the adorable little boy in pom pon socks. It was selected as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Design Influencers – a list I will see you on soon!

    Sincerely, Terri

Would love to hear from you!