The National Library of Australia will feature one of the rarest maps in the world in its summer blockbuster exhibition, Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia.
The first large-scale map of New Holland has been acquired by the Library. Titled Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus (the Eastern and Asian archipelago), it was created in 1663 by the Master Cartographer for the Dutch East India Company, Joan Blaeu.
The map was found in a storage facility in Sweden in 2010. A few examples of it are known worldwide, but none have come to light since the 17th century.
Star of summer blockbuster
Chair of the National Library of Australia Council, Ryan Stokes described it as the most important map documenting Australia’s presence before the arrival of the British.
“It is the map on which all subsequent maps of New Holland are based, the primary source for the mapping that Cook had to complete the picture in 1770,” Mr Stokes said.
“It also has the distinction of including, for the first time on a map, details of the sighting of Tasmania by Tasman’s crew aboard the Zeehaen on 24 November 1642.”
He said its survival was remarkable, and probably due to the fact no-one knew it existed for about a century.
Mr Stokes said expert National Library Preservation staff had examined the map, which was in a very fragile state, and had begun specialised conservation work to stabilise it.
“Four conservators are working on it full-time so it can safely be displayed in Mapping Our World when it opens on 7 November,” he said.
Many of the other greatest maps in the world will be on show in the exhibition, including treasures which have never before been allowed out of their European vaults.
Maps from the British Library, the Vatican, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France as well as from Australia’s leading institutions will go on show in Mapping Our World. Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, opens at the National Library of Australia on 7 November and runs until 10 March 2014. The exhibition is free but bookings are essential.
Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus
(The Eastern or Asian Archipelago)
undergoing preservation (detail)