May 2, 2017

Digitizing a very large book — the Klencke Atlas



See the images here — at the British Library website.
The Klencke Atlas is one of the world's biggest: it measures 176 x 231 cm [5'9"x 6'3") when open.

It takes its name from Joannes Klencke, who presented it to Charles II on his restoration to the British thrones in 1660. Its size and its 40 or so large wall maps from the Golden Age of Dutch mapmaking were supposed to suggest that it contained all the knowledge in the world.
It was the largest atlas in the world until some Australian publisher made a larger atlas in 2012.

12 comments:

Fernandinande said...

Pretty accurate representation of the Americas (4th plate or so) but California north thru Alaska are missing.

Unknown said...

This was the equivalent of Broadband in 1660. Interesting.

CWJ said...

California is not missing. It was thought to be an island at that time as shown on the map. I'm more interested that it appears that only Lake Ontario is depicted.

CWJ said...

Looking again at North America, it appears that they conflated the other four great lakes into one giant ill defined lake upstream of Lake Ontario.

Fernandinande said...

CWJ said...
California is not missing. It was thought to be an island at that time as shown on the map.


You're right - I took that to be Baja California, but looking again it extends much further north, maybe up to Oregon or so? Then the west coast disappears.

Michael K said...

I have some maps from this, or a similar atlas. Rick from "PawnStars" bought the map I really wanted which showed California as an island. I could not afford it.

The one I have shows California to Monterey but not north of that. It's about 1759.

CWJ said...

More boring geographer/cartographer stuff -

The technical term for making a map is that you compile it. That captures the flavor of old map making where you compiled your information from earlier maps as much or more than incorporating new information. Looking at the Island of California Wikipedia entry, I noticed that both historical illustrations* showed 4 islands in the "strait" between California and the mainland. Since the islands don't exist, clearly one or both cartographers cribbed off, either the other, or an earlier map. Sure enough, the Klencke version also shows the same four islands with a slew of northern islands thrown in for good measure. These may be explained by the fact that at least one explorer thought Puget Sound was the Northern entrance to the "strait."

But back to the four islands. They reminded me of the four islands which appear in a number of historical maps of Lake Superior. Of course, the only real one is Isle Royale. The other three came from the imagination of the original cartographer who was trying to suck up to his patron. They "surprisingly" were named for his patron, his patron's estate, and his patron's patron saint. I wonder. What are the chances that the original cartographer named the four mythical islands in the California "strait" in a similar fashion?

Long way around the barn to say that historical cartography is fascinating, at least to me.

* - "Illustrations" because the first is a chart and the second is a map. I warned you this would be boring.

John Nowak said...

>More boring geographer/cartographer stuff -

Well, I found it fascinating.

Rae said...

...andI thought I had a big job when I decided to digitize three boxes of old family slides.

Etienne said...
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Etienne said...
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Owen said...

Fascinating. Thanks for the wonderful comments. I remember reading how Mercator worked, collecting stories and notes and scraps of knowledge from travelers, assembling them like a jigsaw puzzle as much in his mind as on a page, weighing their credibility and coherence. Also worth noting that this kind of visual knowledge was strategic: a good chart gave military and commercial advantage, and was closely guarded.