In this section we explore in more detail some of our favourite rare maps, atlases, and first editions of travels and voyages, as well as antique globes and scientific instruments.
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In 1820, self-proclaimed Scottish nobleman Gregor MacGregor launched one of the most audacious and elaborate frauds of all time, tricking thousands of Brits into investing in “Poyais”, a territory in Central America which turned out to be entirely fictional.
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The history of colonial exploration in Australia has often been depicted as heroic drama, by turns a tale of extraordinary good luck and terrible tragedy; extremes of fortune mirrored by the landscape, in which either “undulating grazing country”, or “stony desert” may be around the next bend.
The vocabulary of disease runs parallel with the language of place and space. We talk of “spread”, “dispersal” and “distribution”, of “global” pandemics, and, however inaccurately, “The Spanish Flu” and the “China Virus”. Indeed, “The Plague of Athens” 430 BC is often cited as the earliest recorded epidemic (item 1). Our view of disease can appear decidedly geographic. The word “pandemic”, however, also has Greek origins, and comes from “Pan”, meaning “all” and “Demos”, meaning “people”. This points the finger in an altogether different direction. Whilst maps and data visualization can help us to track and understand disease, it is the actions of people that determine its cause, its dissemination, and its cure.
“Heute Deutschland! Morgen die Welt!” - (Germany today! Tomorrow the world!) was a popular slogan among the Nazis during their rise to power, not disguising at all their plans for world domination. The scale of this ambition is visible in the detail and the efficiency of the cartography of the Third Reich, and was made explicit with a series of maps related to Germany’s projected global empire.
Louis, Dauphin of France was the only surviving son of King Louis XV and the father of three kings of France
A glass-fronted chart case and set of charts from Queen Victoria’s Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert (II)
Inscribed and attributed to Agnese by the eminent bibliographer Henry Harisse
Petrus Apianus’s Astronomicum Caesareum
Jacques Bassantin’s Astronomique discourse par Jacques Bassantin Escossois