Over 180,000 manuscripts, maps, photographs, sheet music, lithographs, postcards, and other images were released online Wednesday in incredibly high resolution, and are available to download using the library’s user-friendly visualization tool. It’s a nostalgist’s dream come true.
The Dunhuang Star map is one of the first known graphical representations of stars from ancient Chinese astronomy, dated to the Tang Dynasty (618–907). Before this map, much of the star information mentioned in historical Chinese texts had been questioned. The map provides a graphical verification of the star observations, and are part of a series of pictures on one of the Dunhuang manuscripts. The astronomy behind the map is explained in an educational resource posted on the website of the International Dunhuang Project, where much of the research on the map has been done. The Dunhuang Star map is to date the world’s oldest complete preserved star atlas.
Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (General atlas of all the islands in the world) is the greatest work by Seville cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz (1505–67). The atlas was begun during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and finished in that of his son King Philip II, to whom it was dedicated. It consists of 111 maps representing all the islands and peninsulas of the world, and showing all the discoveries made by European explorers from 1400 to the mid-16th century. The atlas begins with a letter by Santa Cruz to the king, in which he justifies his work and explains different geographic concepts. Preceding the maps is “Breve introducción de la Sphera” in which Santa Cruz makes a cosmographic description, illustrated by 14 astronomical figures. The maps are organized in four parts: the first deals with the North Atlantic; the second, with the Mediterranean and adjacent areas; the third, with Africa and the Indian Ocean; and the fourth with the New World. The maps include scales in latitude and some in longitude and bodies of water with varied scales and oriented with compass roses. The Islario general is the earliest atlas in which paper is used, instead of the parchment that was previously most commonly used for such charts. The design of the maps is more functional, with less attention to aesthetics and more to geographic detail than in the late-medieval portolan maps and atlases. Scholars have determined, on the basis of the dates that appear in the descriptive texts on the islands, that the maps were made beginning in the fourth decade of the 16th century, around 1539, and that the entire atlas was completed circa 1560. It is highly probable that the Islario general was a part of a Geografía Universal that Santa Cruz never finished. Santa Cruz was one of the key figures of the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) in Seville. One of his first works was a set of the spherical charts of the New World. He created various other works on cosmography and geography, such as the Libro de longitudes; and on historical themes, including Crónica de los Reyes Católicos (Chronicle of the Catholic kings) and Crónica de Carlos V (Chronicle of Charles V). Following Santa Cruz’s death, his successor, Andrés García de Céspedes, attempted to claim credit for this work. On the cover the name Alonso de Santa Cruz has been erased, García de Céspedes’s name is inserted as if he were the author, and the work is dedicated to King Philip III. In the manuscript itself, apocryphal texts have been superimposed over the originals, with the aim of disguising the real authorship and date of creation.
Map of the River Nile from its estuary south to Cairo, 1525
One of the golden ages of cartography occurred in the late middle ages and the Renaissance. Here we see a masterpiece of the period from the Ottoman admiral, Piri Reis. The manuscript map, taken from a larger work called the Book of Navigation, represents the Nile river as it approaches Cairo, including Rosetta, namesake of the famous stone. Maps like this were extravagant works of art destined to adorn the coffee-table or bookshelf of a wealthy Renaissance merchant.
Map of Korean Peninsula. This map of Korea is one of twelve handcolored maps in the manuscript atlas, Tae Choson Chido (Great Korean Map). The atlas, dating to circa 1800, has individual maps of the provinces of Korea
In a volume of transcriptions made from 17th and 18th century documents related to the Spanish colonization of America, there was a manuscript map that, while colorful and interesting, was in pretty rough shape. But fear not. The conservation team has already flattened, mended and rehoused it. The map was also digitized, and a small facsimile now holds the place of the original.
Transcriptions, correspondence and maps. 1854-1858. Buckingham Smith papers and collected materials. New-York Historical Society.
“Listen, either I was going to buy it or it was going to go to some classless Dubai-dwelling nouveau-riche who wouldn’t have the taste nor tact to have any consideration for this.” she announced, patting the case filled with leather-bound books, maps and manuscripts as it rested next to the coffee table in her living room.
“… Why do you ask? I thought it was obvious? They went whining about ‘oooh someone spent millions on this, what a waste!’ and didn’t bother saying my name?” she whined and mimicked, giving a little huff before she looked back to the Russian. “Millions isn’t much to me, you know that. It’s not shocking.”
Trinity College Library at University of Dublin, Ireland
The Library of Trinity College is the largest research library in Ireland. As a result of its historic standing, Trinity College Library Dublin is a legal deposit library (as per Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003) for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and has a similar standing in Irish law. The College is therefore legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland and consequently receives over 100,000 new items every year. The Library contains about five million books, including 30,000 current serials and significant collections of manuscripts, maps, and printed music. Three million books are held in the book depository, “Stacks”, in Santry, from which requests are retrieved twice daily. (wikipedia)
When you see inside someone as deeply as we did in one another, nothing can ever be orderly, nothing will ever make sense, nothing will ever be definite. To this day, despite everything, I still say he knew my soul as if he’s lived in it forever, as if he’s crafted it from cell to meteor. And I knew his like the story I was born knowing and could never quite mouth. And that killed us, if we loved each other less, if we knew each other less, if we weren’t so goddamn much, we would’ve made a perfect match. They say it’s never possible to reveal yourself to someone. But that’s not quite true, they can only say that because they were never me meeting him. Not only was I spilled open on his floor like piece of glass turned to shreds, I was an open map, I was a manuscript in a language that the gods invented only in him a few million star namings and star gazings ago. Oh I saw a pretty image of wind blowing snowflakes in all directions on a foggy 5 am with white lights on one end and my window glass on the other. I looked for words for it but I found none. I named that moment, feeling and image after him. There was never anything else to fit anything better. He filtered himself through my skin the way moonlight does through water. From afar, hardly altering anything, illuminating to its greatest depths without ever laying a touch on it. Who would’ve thought I was so transparently opaque. If he could be anything he’d be foggy blue, lime yellows, the green of a beer bottle, red and amber, black eyelashes, really red cheeks, white sheets blood stained, my backbone, 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, a car crash, patching up open wounds, alcohol that stings, alcohol that’s sweet, my favourite taste, my favourite smell, my favourite favourite. Tears are salty, he says blood tastes delicious, he should know, I’ve bent my back in his mouth a thousand times, I forgot my heart in his teeth a hundred, choking me is him. I’m not linear. All I dream of is him him him him. I wish he’d take my face in his hands, let me cry until I nosebleed, french kiss his way into my tears and crack me in two like a stick. He surrounds me. If there’s anything I’d like to say it is:
Don’t you dare forget we were never alive except within each other, you punk. If you die I die, for better or worse. I’ll need you.
In addition to our book recommendations and bookish news from around the web, we’re now also going to be showing off some of our favorite images from the NYPL Digital Collections. We have over 840,000 digitized items and counting, spanning a wide range of historical eras, geography, and media and offering drawings, illuminated manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, prints, rare illustrated books, videos, audio, and more. We hope you’ll find these images as fascinating and beautiful as we do!
One of the major geographic misconceptions originating during the discovery and exploration of North America was the depiction of California as an island. Based on erroneous Spanish manuscript accounts, European cartographers began in 1622 to portray the western coast of North America as a separate island. Major publishers, especially the British and the Dutch, accepted this concept well into the early eighteenth century, long after Father Eusebio Kino confirmed during exploration of the American southwest from 1698 to 1701 that California was not an island. Shown here is one of fourteen manuscript maps acquired by the great nineteenth-century collector of Americana, Henry Harisse.
Duke Humfrey’s Library primarily functions as one of the reading rooms of Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. It accommodates stacks of maps, music, Western manuscripts, theology and arts materials. The books in the oldest portions of the reading room are organized in fine oak bookcases. (Photo by J. Ostrich)