Maps and Atlases

The Huntington has a rich and varied selection of European and American cartographic material that supports historical and geographical research and includes numerous rarities.

The Library's pre-1800 print holdings are outstanding. Continental works include thirty-six editions of Ptolemy's Cosmographia as well as numerous editions of the works of Sebastian Münster and Abraham Ortelius. The great Dutch mapmakers—the Mercator, Hondius, Blaeu, Visscher, and Goos families—are all well represented. English material is the strongest, with such highlights as Christopher Saxton's Atlas of the Counties of England & Wales (ca.1590), and Joseph Des Barres's volume of coastal charts, The Atlantic Neptune (1784). Notable post-1800 holdings include the Sir Richard Francis Burton Map Collection.

American cartographic materials reflect the Library's interest in Colonial and Revolutionary War America, the Trans-Mississippi West, and California. Mapmakers represented include Mathew Carey, Lewis Evans, William Faden, John Melish, and John Mitchell. For the 19th century, there are abundant state and road, Civil War, geological, and topographical survey maps. For Los Angeles, the Solano-Reeve collection and the Los Angeles County Assessor's Road Maps are invaluable resources.

The Huntington holds a truly distinguished collection of early manuscript maps, including a world map in Ranulf Higden's "Polychronicon" of the 1340s and a choice selection of portolan maps and atlases. Among the most important of the latter are the King/Hamy world chart, with its outline of South America, reflecting voyages on which Amerigo Vespucci sailed. The splendid Vallard Atlas, created no later than 1547, is one of the most visually impressive examples of the Norman or "Dieppe" school of cartography.

Image credit: Portolan Chart, ("King-Hamy Portolan Chart"), 16th century. HM 45. Purchased from A. S. W. Rosenbach, 1923.

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