Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Treasures of the Newberry Library-Part1

This fall I had a chance to visit the Newberry Library in Chicago, home of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and one of the nation's best map collections.
Upon entry, they direct you to a locker room for security purposes. The locker room has this nice map detailing the history of paper from its roots in China. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good picture of it without light reflecting off the glass frame.
You can look at the map catalog for a complete list of maps but that can be overwhelming if you're not looking for a specific item. Your best bet is to look through their copy of Cartographic Treasures of the Newberry Library to see some of their most significant holdings. I began with a map from Mexico, probably dating from the 1560's. I was drawn to this map for both its age and its rare, non-Western influences.  

The map is encased in a huge glass frame and had to be wheeled into the room. I attempted to photograph it with my phone with mixed results-you can see the light reflecting off the glass.

The map shows mines, smelters and haciendas in Temascaltepec, a mining region southwest of Mexico City. It was printed on a traditional Mexican paper made from the maguey plant. As the previous map indicates, paper was brought to Mexico with the invasion of Cortes in 1519. Spanish and Aztec pictographs are both used. The Aztecs used horseshoes to indicate roads and spirals for rivers. Below is a poorly photographed detail of a road meeting a river.

In the coming weeks I will highlight many more maps that I saw on my visit - stay tuned.

1 comment:

Michael5000 said...

Oh man... this sounds great...