Many historic maps are as much works of art as they are tools for getting from one place to another, and one of the most engaging artistic embellishments of these maps are the decorative frames called cartouches, which often surround the map’s title and other details. Cartouches were an important cartographic design element from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, and continue to be used on twenty-first century pictorial maps. Cartouches are not just visually appealing, but are also often the key to interpreting maps, because it is through the decoration of the cartouche that the cartographer speaks most directly to the viewer, revealing his or her interests or prejudices. Yet until now, there has been no detailed study of cartouches, no discussion of their earliest history or development, and no attempt to interpret the symbolism of a large number of them together. In this talk I will discuss the early history and development of cartouches, examine some of their sources, and explain the symbolism of several remarkable cartouches in detail.