CL -- Geography

Sammlung Ryhiner: Karten, Pläne und Ansichten aus dem 16. bis 19. Jahrhundert = Ryhiner Collection: Maps, Plans and Views from the 16th to the 19th Century. Ed. Thomas Klöti. 4 vols. Bern: Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek, 2003. 1,786 p. 30 cm. ISBN 3-9521539-0-7: SFr. 164 (Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek Bern, Postfach, CH-3000 Bern) [04-1-315]

Der Weltensammler (Murten, 1998), a 60-page exhibition catalog (see IFB 99-1/4-396), celebrated the complete restoration, cataloging, and scholarly interpretation of a valuable collection of the Bern City and University Library. Assembled by Bern politician and geographer Johann Friedrich von Ryhiner (1732-1803), this is one of the most important and virtually complete map collections to have been held by private persons, containing around 16,000 maps, plans, and topographical views from the 16th to the 18th centuries, bound together by subject in 501 atlas volumes.

The four-volume catalog of the entire collection, with texts in German and English, begins with an introduction describing in detail the contents of the collection and earlier catalogs, including handwritten catalogs (some in Ryhiner’s own hand). A fivepage article describes a conservation and cataloging project in the 1980s, when the importance of the collection was first recognized. A two-page bibliography lists earlier publications on both the collection and its restoration.

Volumes 1-3 list the maps, numbered 1-16,428, arranged systematically as they appear in the atlas volumes, sometimes subdivided according to geographical areas, landscape types, etc. The emphasis is heavily on France and Germany/Austria (with 3,403 and 3,557 maps, respectively). Italy, with 1,153 maps, ranks well above the remaining regions, maps for some of which number in the mid- to high hundreds: Africa (352), British Isles (630), and the Iberian Peninsula (602), to name a few. Descriptions of the maps, in ISBD format, include the following data: title, subtitle, originator, scale, printer, extent, method of production, format, source (many are derived from collected works) or series title, footnotes, and call number within the collection. Volume 4 includes a list of source works, detailed contents, place and subject index, name index (primarily printers and publishers, whereby an additional index to places by country would have greatly increased the usefulness of the indexes), and a map title index.

Even though all the maps are listed online in both the Bern Library’s catalog and the German-Swiss union catalog, IDS, this print catalog is absolutely justified, given the scope and significance of the collection. Portions of the collection have been digitized and are available in preview and working versions on the internet. Use of the actual maps is very restricted, but users may make black-and-white copies of the microfilm or order high-quality scans or color enlargements. [sh/mm]

Petermann’s Planet: A Guide to German Handatlases [sic] and Their Siblings throughout the World 1800-1950. Ed. Jürgen Espenhorst; transl. from the German by George R. Crossman. Schwerte: Pangaea-Verlag. 25 cm. [04-1-316]

Vol. 1. The Great Handatlases. 2003. xx, 684 p. ill. maps. ISBN 3-930401-35-5: EUR 90

In 1994, Jürgen Espenhorst published his exhaustive and very well-received bibliography of hand atlases under the title Handatlanten des deutschen Sprachraums (1800-1945). Encouraged by that work’s reception in the United States and by further research at the Library of Congress, Espenhorst here presents an English translation of the historical essays that formed the first section of his 1994 work. The bibliography itself is not reprinted here, on the assumption that even those whose native language is not German can understand the formal bibliographic entries in their original form. The historical essays, on the other hand, have been thoroughly revised and expanded, compared to the original 1994 publication.

The first volume of the English translation is the subject of this review. It begins with a 93-page introduction explaining the concept of the hand atlas, the national and international atlas market, and special aspects involved in the printing of atlases. The rest of volume 1 is devoted to the six great “families” of atlas publishers who had the greatest impact on atlas cartography (named in honor of their founding cartographers, with the exception of the first, to which Espenhorst assigns the name of the city in which it was located): Weimar, Stieler, Meyer, Sohr-Berghaus, Andree, and Debes. Each of these six sections addresses the following topics: historical overview, the family’s first atlas, international editions, editions in various formats, atlases with topographical maps, special editions, and historical atlases. The volume is beautifully illustrated. The forthcoming second volume will contain chapters on 50 smaller “families” of atlas publishers, an index to both volumes, and a bibliography of secondary literature. This work functions as an excellent handbook of the history of cartography, as well as a fine history of an important sector of the German publishing industry during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. [sh/crc]

Weltgeschichte der Seefahrt [World History of Seafaring]. Helmut Pemsel. Wien [et al.]: Neuer Wissenschaftlicher Verlag; Hamburg: Köhler. 25 cm. [04-1-318]

Vol. 4. Biographisches Lexikon: Admirale, Seehelden, Kapitäne, Seeflieger, Seefahrer, Reeder, Ingenieure, Kartographen, Ozeanographen, Politiker und Historiker; von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart [Biographical Encyclopedia: Admirals, Sea Heroes, Captains, Naval Pilots, Seafarers, Ship Owners, Engineers, Cartographers, Oceanographers, Politicians, and Historians from Antiquity to the Present Day]. 2003. 462 p. ill. ISBN 3-7083-0024-6 (Neuer Wissenschaftlicher Verlag): EUR 49.40; 3-7822-0836-6 (Köhler): EUR 48

Although the foreword tends to obscure the fact, this is an expanded and revised edition of a differently-named 1986 reference work by Helmut Pemsel: Biographisches Lexikon zur Seekriegsgeschichte [Biographical Encyclopedia of Naval War History] (Koblenz, 1985). The latter was itself a biographical addendum to his Seeherrschaft: Eine maritime Weltgeschichte von den Anfängen der Seefahrt bis zur Gegenwart [Ruling the Seas: A Maritime History of the World from the Beginnings of Seafaring to the Present] (Koblenz, 1985). The 406 short biographies average one page in length and are introduced in each case with a portrait of the individual—or, alternately, a facsimile of a contemporary document—followed by a sketch of a ship from the period. These artistic and visual elements evidently cost Pemsel a great deal of effort. Each biography is preceded by indicators of nationality, occupational relationship to the sea, and birth and death dates and places. The highest number of seafarers listed for a country is 107 for Great Britain, followed by 45 for Germany, 38 for the USA, and 35 for both Italy/Roman Empire and France, while other countries are represented by fewer than 20 each. [sh/rdh]

Dictionnaire illustré des explorateurs et grands voyageurs français du XIXe siècle [Illustrated Dictionary of French Explorers and Great Travelers of the 19th Century]. Numa Broc. Paris: Éditions du C.T.H.S. 31 cm. ISBN 2-7355-0157-4 (set) [04-1-319]

Vol. 4. Océanie, voyages autour du monde et dans plusieurs continents, voyages maritimes et polaires; augmenté d’un supplément général [Oceania, Voyages around the World and on Several Continents, Maritime and Polar Voyages; with a General Supplement]. 2003. 406 p. ill. ISBN 2-7355-0461-1: EUR 69

This volume concludes the important four-volume biographical lexicon of French explorers and travelers of the 19th century (from the end of the Napoleonic era to the outbreak of the First World War), which was begun 15 years ago. Volume 1 (Africa) was published in 1988, volume 2 (Asia) in 1992, and volume 3 (America) in 1999. Volume 4 deals with French explorers of Oceania, with the addition of circumnavigators and those who traveled on several continents and in the polar regions. A personal index groups the explorers according to thematic categories, and a geographical index arranges them by regions visited. The articles describe the life and accomplishments of each person and are accompanied by numerous illustrations and maps, as well as bibliographical references.

There is also a general bibliography for the entire volume and a bibliography of biographies of individual explorers. The volume concludes with 20 additional articles, intended as a supplement to the first three volumes of the set. It would have been desirable to have more collective indexes to all four of the volumes, not only by name (since one person can appear in several volumes), but also by the other categories noted above, and perhaps one for the relatively few women mentioned. One other flaw: in contrast to the colored, fold-out maps accompanying the volume, the black-and-white ones in the text are poorly reproduced and difficult to decipher. [sh/akb]

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Last update: July 17, 2007 [TB]
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