* Martin Waldseemüller was a German cartographer, who was regarded as one of Worlds finest cartographers, best known for his Universalis Cosmographia, a 12-sheet woodblock map dated 1507. Not only was it one of the first maps to precisely chart latitude and longitude, but it was the first to reference the name "America" (honoring Amerigo Vespucci). One of Waldseemüller's gore globes sold for $1002,267 USD, thus fetching a world record price for such items.
** Vincenzo Coronelli born in Venice in 1650, was a highly regarded Italian cartographer. His construction of two globes for the Duke of Parma earned him an invitation to Paris, where a pair of globes built for King Louis XIV were of such a grand scale that they were constructed with trap doors so craftsmen could enter and work from inside. As Royal Cartographer, he was granted access to the latest documentation sent from the colonies to the French Academy of Sciences.
Nicolo Da Conti was a Venetian merchant who explored the possibility of trading routes to India and Southeast Asia during the early 15th century. His voyages greatly influenced European understanding of the areas around the Indian Ocean. Da Conti is said to have described that part of the world as "exceeding all other regions in wealth, culture and magnificence. The accounts of his travels greatly influenced 15th century cartography.
Rene-Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer who sailed to Canada when he was 23 years old. He learned from the Iroquois people of a grate river which led to the sea. Assuming the river in question flowed into the Gulf of California, the enticing thought of a possible profitable western trade route to China arose. LaSalle led an expedition to the Great Lakes in 1679, and four years later sailed down the Illinois River to the Mississippi River and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, claiming the entire Mississippi River Basin - what he called the Louisiana Territory - for France.
Sir Francis Drake was a famous English navigator, who took to sea at the age of 13, becoming mater of a cargo barge at 20 and honing his sailing skills. Piloting a ship eventually renamed the "golden Hind", Drake was sent by Queen Elizabeth to start an expedition against the Spanish, and set sail from England on December 13, 1577. He eventually returned to Plymouth in 1580, and was proclaimed to be the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth. Queen Elizabeth knighted Drake aboard the Golden Hind on April 4, 1581.