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Universe of Maps - Opening the David Rumsey Map Center

New Acquisitions

Systema solare et planetarium, in Atlas novus coelestis in quo mundus spectabilis. Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr; Johann Baptist Homann. Nuremberg: 1742
This image of the sun and planets illustrates the heliocentric view introduced by Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus in the early 1700s. It depicts the orbits of the planets and their moons as they revolve concentrically around the sun, and includes description by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens.
Turcici Imperii Descriptio. Concordia parvae res crescunt, Discordia maximae dilabuntur, in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Abraham Ortelius. Antwerp: 1570
The map reflects a European view of Turkey and the surrounding Middle East.
Port du Passage. Anonymous. Manuscript: ca. 1628
This map is part of a manuscript compilation of nine charts of ports in the Mediterranean and Atlantic bound as an atlas. An accompanying manuscript log book of over 500 pages (not shown) describes the ports in the charts, as well as others, in detail. The cover of the atlas has been identified as taken from printed sheets of a book published in Lyon, France in 1628 (with thanks to Chet Van Duzer).
(The Siege of the Citadel of Saint Martin on the Isle de Ré). Jacques Callot Nancy. France: 1631 (but later restrike)
This large map is a compilation of six prints illustrating the Siege of the Citadel of Saint Martin on the Isle de Ré in southwestern France. It is extraordinary in its use of engraving line darkness to indicate depth of space, a technique that Callot pioneered. Callot received commissions to commemorate this spectacular battle scene from Louis XIII in 1628. Restrikes from the plates were made in 1784 and 1861, and this copy could be from either date.

The maps in this case and the adjacent wall range from a serene view of the whole solar system to maps and an atlas focused on the details of human conflict. Johann Baptist Homann depicts the solar system with the sun at its center, according to the “hypothesis” of Copernicus, and we descend to the earth only in the lower left corner, where a diagram shows the solar eclipse of May 12, 1706, casting its shadow over Nuremberg, where Homann lived.

Abraham Ortelius’s Map of the Empire of the Turks first appeared in the 1570 edition of his atlas; the great fear caused in Europe by the Turks’ expansion finds expression in the quotation below the map’s title: “Through peace small things grow, but through discord the greatest things are ruined.” Jacques Callot’s spectacular view-map of the Île de Ré on the western coast of France shows the island under assault by an English force of force of 100 ships and 6,000 soldiers led by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, in 1627. Here we see the siege in full swing, but after three months a French relief force managed to repel the attackers.

Finally we have a mystery. An anonymous atlas of hand-drawn charts, made in about 1628, shows nine European ports with very little emphasis on the towns, but much on the fortification and topography. This leads one to suspect a military purpose to the compilation, but determining the cartographer’s specific intentions will require further investigation, particularly of a logbook, (not displayed), which may or may not have been written to accompany the atlas. The map shown depicts the Puerto de Pasajes, just east of San Sebastián on the northern coast of Spain, in a bird’s-eye view.

—Narrative by Chet Van Duzer, Independent Scholar