Mondays at Beinecke Online: Richard Pflederer on Portolan Charts

A talk in conjunction with the current building-wide exhibition,

The World in Maps, 1400-1600

Part of Mondays at Beinecke online, a virtual series of gallery talks every Monday at 4pm. Talks focus on materials from the collections and include an opening presentation at 4pm followed by conversation and question and answer beginning about 4:30pm until 5pm.

Dick Pflederer began his detailed study of portolan charts in the year 2000 when he was invited to produce a detailed digital catalogue of the collection of the British Library. In the years that followed he has completed similar catalogues of six other important collections, including NMM (Greenwich), Bodleian Library (Oxford), Huntington Library, Library of Congress, the Newberry Library and Archivio di Stato di Firenze.

In addition, he has extensively studied charts in the collections several other institutions in Italy and France. He has also assembled and published a detailed census of all known portolan charts, including as many in private hands as are known (published in 2009 and periodically updated). His book Finding their Way at Sea (HES & DE GRAAF 2013) is a heavily illustrated work intended to introduce the subject to a general audience.

His work with the charts, which he prefers to call manuscript sea charts, has expanded to cover broader issues in the history of navigational practice in the medieval and renaissance periods.

He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has completed programs at Columbia University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management (Arizona). He is the founder of the Williamsburg Map Circle and the Vice Chair of the Phillips Society of the Library of Congress.

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