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J. D. B. News Letter

January 23, 1933
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Sixty beautifully illustrated and decorated maps, some of which show the quaint conceptions of the world that existed in the later Middle Ages, have recently been acquired by the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem as a gift from Mrs. Norvin Lindheim, of Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.A. They show in striking form what the ancient cartographers knew of the terrestrial globe in those times.

The romantic nature of life in the Middle Ages is vividly depicted in colors that are still fresh, although three or four hundred years have passed since they were first produced. Many of them were drawn and designed by John Speed in the early seventeenth century, as part of the old Speed Theatre (Collection) in London. These cartographs of “Ye Theatre of John Speed in Empire of Great Britaine” are embellished with colored reproductions at the sides of ancient peoples in mediaeval garb.

One of the striking items in the collection is “A New Mappe of the Romane Empire, newly described by Iohn Speed . . . and are to be sold by Roger Rea the Elder and Younger at the Golden Crosse in Cornhill against the Exchange.” It is dated 1610, and there is a description of the Roman Empire at the foot, in the ancient script in which “the’s” were “ye’s” and “s” was “f.” One of the illustrations is a view of steeples and spires that is called simply “Iervsalem,” and there are gallantly-clothed figures of “Spainyards,” “Italiens,” “Chineans,” and “Molvccans” around the borders. Speed has also a 1626 map in the collection.

A later cartograph, dating 1685-88, is of “The Empire of the Great Turke in Europe, Asia and Africa, divided into all its Berglerbeglicz or Governments in which are also distinguished the States that are tributary to him,” and is “humbly dedicated and presented by your Majesties loyall subject and servant, William Berry,” to King James the Second.

There are maps and diagrams of Mercator, Janszen, Ortellus, de Witt and Blaeu, and other celebrated cartographers of the Middle Ages. But probably the most fascinating is that of the 1513 edition of Ptolmey, being the fourth map of Asia (including the Holy Land) and lithographed on parchment of those times. Given in the old Latin that was Ptolmey’s tongue, the letterpress constitutes a remarkable tribute to that ancient mapper of the world. Its history is that it was commenced “by the Saint-Die geographer, Martin Waltzmuller

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