Historical Maps

This section presents a selection of fully digitized Italian manuscript maps, atlases, and views from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries in order to display a sample of one of the major strengths of the Newberry’s collections and to provide another space for examining a variety of handwritings from the period. These maps not only represent the Italian peninsula but also depict the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and the world, including several portolan charts. The majority of the maps derive from Venice and Genoa, major centers of cartographic production in the premodern world. The Newberry collections include over 500 manuscript maps and 2,200 manuscript map reproductions. The majority of the Italian manuscripts form parts of the Edward E. Ayer and the Franco Novacco collections. The Ayer collection includes 30 portolan charts and atlases of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and over 6,500 printed maps, manuscript maps, and other atlases, while the Novacco map collection includes over 700 maps printed in Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one of the strongest such collections in the world. Overall, the Newberry library holds over 20,000 atlases, very broadly defined to include works containing five or more maps (over 5,000 dating from before 1850). These include a great variety of books issued with maps, including, for example, over 70 copies of Ptolemy’s Geographia.