Posts Tagged ‘library of congress’

Ancient map with China at center goes on show in Washington, DC (BBC)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

[Editor’s note: “A rare, 400-year-old map that displays China at the center of the world will be on exhibit at the Library of Congress from Jan. 12 to April 10 2010, before it is digitized and then heads to its intended home at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. If you haven’t checked our Ricci in China, it’s a fascinating time period in the history of cartography. Thanks Curt and Mary Kate!]

Republished from the BBC.

Visitor instructions from the Library of Congress . . .

A visitor studies Matteo Ricci's 400-year-old world map at the Library of CongressThe huge map is being displayed at the Library of Congress in Washington

A historic map of the world, with China at its centre, has gone on display at the Library of Congress in Washington.

The map was created by Italian missionary Matteo Ricci in 1602. It is one of only two copies in existence in good condition.

Because of its rarity and fragility – the map is printed on rice paper – the map has become known as the “Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography”.

This is the first time it has been on public show in north America.

Ricci created the map at the request of Emperor Wanli who wanted it to help scholars and explorers.

‘Revered by Chinese’

The map was purchased by the James Ford Bell Trust in October for $1m (£0.62m), making it the second-most expensive rare map ever sold.

It denotes different parts of the world with annotations and pictures.

A detail from the China section of Matteo Ricci's world map

The map had China at the centre of the world to underline its importance

In the Americas, for example, several places are named including Chih-Li (Chile), Wa-ti-ma-la (Guatemala) and Ka-na-ta (Canada), and Florida is described as “the Land of the Flowers”.

Ford W Bell, a trustee for the James Ford Bell Trust, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper, that the map was “one of the two best in terms of quality, as far as we know”.

“Ricci was a very smart missionary. He put China right at the centre of this new universe, this new globe, to underscore its importance,” he said.

“Ricci, of course, was the first Westerner to enter Beijing. He was revered by the Chinese, and he was buried there.”

The first secretary for cultural affairs at the Chinese embassy in the US, Ti Ban Zhang, said in a statement that the map represents “the momentous first meeting of East and West”.

DC @ Nov. 13: Lecture On Waldseeműller Map And Johannes Schöner At Library Of Congress

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

[Editor’s note: If you’re in Washington DC tonight this looks like a great lecture. There is a chance that this will be posted as a web video later and I’ll update this post with that link. Thanks Patt!]
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. 101 Independence Avenue SE.Washington DC   20540. Phone:  (202) 707-2905

Johannes Schöner, an astronomer, mathematician and globe maker, was the original owner of the Waldseemüller 1507 and 1516 world maps now in the Library of Congress. It was Schöner who placed the maps in a portfolio that was later acquired by a German prince and stored in a castle for nearly 400 years.

The Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Washington Map Society, will hold a lecture to discuss how Schöner used the Waldseemüller maps and other materials to produce his globes and develop new methods of mathematical cartography.

John Hessler will present “Zeno’s Mice: Regiomontanus, Martin Waldseemüller and the Life of Johannes Schöner 1477-1547” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, in the Geography and Map Division Reading Room on the basement level of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Hessler, a senior reference librarian in the Library’s Geography and Map Division, will also give the same lecture in a two-part presentation at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 12 and at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The Nov. 12 presentation is titled “Exploring Waldseemüller’s World: Mysteries of the 1507 and 1516 World Maps” and Dec. 3 is “Strange Effects: The Life and Astronomy of Johannes Schöner, 1477-1547.”

The 1507 world map by Martin Waldseemüller is known as “America’s Birth Certificate,” because it is the first document on which the name “America” appears. The Library of Congress purchased the map for $10 million in 2003, concluding a long effort to bring the map into the United States. In 1901, Schöner’s portfolio was discovered in the library of a castle owned by the family of Prince Waldburg-Wolfegg in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The map was uncovered and revealed to the world by the Jesuit priest Josef Fischer, who was conducting research in the Waldburg collection.

According to Hessler, Schöner collected manuscripts of many cartographers and astronomers of the period. Schöner also owned some of the most important books on cartography and geography that were available to him, including copies of the 1482, 1509 and 1513 editions of “Ptolemy’s Geography,” now in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and Martin Waldseemüller’s “Cosmographiae Introductio.” These works contain a great number of handwritten corrections and complex annotations that reveal Schöner’s thinking about theoretical cartography and the state of the art in the early 16th century.

Hessler will show for the first time how Schöner used the Waldseemüller maps and other materials for the production of his globes and also in the development of new methods of mathematical cartography. In addition, Hessler will discuss the difficulties of researching Renaissance cartography and will try to dismiss many of the myths and platitudes that have plagued Waldseemüller scholarship for more than a century.

Hessler has written extensively on the history of classical and Renaissance cartography and is the author of “The Naming of America: Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map and the Cosmographiae Introductio” (2008), which is a new translation of, and commentary on, Waldseemüller’s seminal text. A fellow of the Society for Archaeogeography, he is currently at work on a new Latin edition of the 6th-century “Corpus Agrimensorum,” a collection of Roman surveying manuals from Late Antiquity. He also runs the historical map analysis Web site

Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540-1610 United States

Geography and Map Division (202) 707-6277

Map that named America on Display in DC

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

waldseemuller mapFrom Reuters: The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress (LOC), but even as it prepares for its debut, the 1507 Waldseemuller map remains a puzzle for researchers. More of that article. Info from LOC on the map and how to visit here.

I’ll be sure to make the pilgrimage after I return to DC in January. Thanks Caryn 🙂