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Ortelius' map of the Mediterranean world, showing the travels of St. Paul, circa 1570.

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In the News

Watson Map and Atlas Collection Part of Archives' Conservation Program for 2008–2009

imageEarnest Watson (1892–1970) was Caltech's first dedicated historian of science. Trained as a physicist under Robert Millikan at the University of Chicago, Watson came to Caltech with his mentor in 1920. During his many years of teaching physics and serving in the administration, Watson pursued his passion for collecting the rarest and most valuable early books and prints for the study of the history of science and technology. His collection was later donated to Caltech.

Shown right: Antique binding, Jan Blaeu's atlas of the Netherlands, 1649.

imageAmong Watson's choicest acquisitions were rare and beautiful early atlases and maps. With the generous support of the Friends of the Caltech Libraries, six early maps are being included in this year's conservation work. They include two hand-colored examples by the father of modern geography, Abraham Ortelius of Antwerp, who published the first systematic world atlas in 1570. Four additional maps identified and dated by Watson to 1657 are by the Amsterdam printer Jan Jansson from plates acquired from the early German atlas of world cities, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, by Braun and Hogenberg of Cologne. For a reception for the Friends in February, Watson's copies of both Latin and French editions of the hand-colored Braun and Hogenberg atlas were displayed, along with the magnificently bound Dutch atlas of cities by Jan Blaeu, printed in 1649, which was last displayed at Caltech in 1949.

Shown above left: View of Vienna from Jansson's reissue of the Braun and Hogenberg atlas, printed 1657. Photo ID FA-PR-0135

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Above: View of Buda (today Budapest), Jansson's reissue of the Braun and Hogenberg atlas, printed 1657. Photo ID FA-PR-0134

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