by Ben Huseman
July 27 2021
The purpose of The Compass Rose is to raise awareness of Special Collections’ resources and to foster the use of these resources. The blog series also reports significant new programs, initiatives, and acquisitions of Special Collections.
This coming Fall — Thursday, September 30th, Friday, October 1st, and Saturday, October 2nd, 2021 — UTA Libraries Special Collections celebrates the donation of a major collection of antique maps of Africa along with the Twelfth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography and joint meetings of the International Cartographic Association’s Commission on the History of Cartography and the Texas Map Society. The lectures have the overall theme “Coordinating Cartographic Collections” and will be both in-person and virtual. The lectures will include distinguished international guest lecturers as well as members of the UTA faculty. The lectures will be accompanied by a “BLOCKBUSTER” exhibit, also both physical and virtual, “Searching for Africa: the Map Collection of Dr. Jack Franke” consisting of over 180 items (mostly original rare maps, but also original printed images and rare books) covering four centuries, from 1493 to 1900. The physical exhibit promises to be a rare treat – the largest exhibit ever mounted at UTA Libraries Sixth Floor Special Collections – covering a total of three rooms: the Virginia Garrett Map Library, the four bays of the Jenkins Garrett Library, and the “Parlor” where the lectures will be held. Visitors will find themselves literally walking into an old-fashioned “Cabinet of Curiosities.” In addition, a gallery guide will accompany the exhibit and include extensive explanatory information about how the maps were produced and for whom they were intended.
The growing Africa Map Collection of Dr. Jack Franke (UTA Distinguished Alumnus, Class of 1987) already consists of over 500 rare original maps, and it adds a whole new dimension to the UTA Libraries cartographic collections, already renowned for their breadth in the cartographic history of Texas, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Dr. Franke’s maps offer students, researchers, faculty, and the public greater opportunities to see in person and compare a wider variety of antique maps relating to the histories of the diverse peoples that comprise the DFW area, Texas, the nation, and the world. Our local collections acquire a better global perspective with this acquisition.
This large double-sheet map of Africa is the work of the Venetian cartographer, theologian, and mathematician Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) who gained international fame as a globe-maker for French King Louis XIV and as the author of atlases and books on globes. His Africa map and his map of North America, already in UTA’s collection, are quite similar to the images of Africa and North America on his other globes and maps. Coronelli drew upon a variety of French, Portuguese, and ancient sources available to him in France and Italy just as he based his map of North America upon a variety of French and Spanish sources. The decorative title cartouche with drapery at lower left in the Africa map bears a dedication (in Italian) to a member of the Colonna family and includes African animals derived from earlier published works. Coronelli strategically placed the second cartouche over a portion of Africa’s interior for which he had little information. It shows a geographer-scholar-scribe recording upon a cloth draped over an Egyptian stele various reference sources for the depiction of the Nile or “father of waters” – here personified by a reclining old man holding an oar next to an overturned vase spilling water over a crocodile.
In 1540 German humanist, theologian, and scholar Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) produced “new” woodcut maps of Africa and the Americas for an updated edition of the second-century Geography by Claudius Ptolemy. Soon translated and published into several languages in addition to the original Latin, the maps were among the earliest maps to focus upon and show each of these continents in their entirety. An unusual feature of the Africa map, here seen in a 1558 Italian-language edition, was the vignette depiction of the one-eyed “Monoculi” or Cyclopes near the Bight of Benin, derived from ancient and medieval sources. In addition to an elephant and parrots in trees, Münster included cities or towns, mountains, rivers, lakes, kingdoms (denoted by royal crowns and scepters), and a medieval ship – a single-masted cog — off the western coast of southern Africa. Near the confluence of several rivers leading from the “Mountains of the Moon” (near the source of the Nile as described by the ancient Greeks), other mountain chains, and lakes to the Nile he added “Hamarich” described as the seat of Prester John, the long sought-for mythical Christian King believed to administer a realm somewhere outside Europe. The text for the maps in Münster’s works were printed with movable metal type in various fonts and sizes attached to carved-out portions of the woodblocks used for printing the maps and images.1