The vast empty spaces of the Poles were the last frontier to be assailed by explorers intent on achieving a geographical goal & tile North Pole was finally reached in 1909. But long before that men sailed the seas searching for an easier and shorter path to the riches of the orient, and the mapmakers of the day translated sparse information, turning it into often stunningly beautiful maps. The fact that most of the information required to stake such a map was missing or erroneous mattered little; the maps live on as testimony to hopes and dreams. The idea that the Arctic Ocean was an open sea, unable to freeze due to movement and size, drove early mariners to attempt to sail across tile top of the world to reach the spices of the east. In so doing, maps were made showing tile routes men thought they could take, and the routes they actually took, which were usually vastly different. Almost 200 historical maps, many never before reproduced, front collections around tile world, illustrate all the significant Arctic explorations from the sixteenth century until well into the twentieth. Readable yet scholarly text informs the maps, as each double-page spread tells a story in itself.