Friday, October 20, 2017

Illustrated Iberia

An engraving of the Iberian peninsula with hand-colored borders to mark the separate regions.
This week at Rauner Library, we hosted a high school class that was studying the history of Spain. That gave us an opportunity to explore the Bryant Spanish Collection at Dartmouth College. This phenomenal collection was begun in 1952 and now consists of over several thousand volumes of books in Spanish and books that reflect the culture and history of Spain. The collection was created by William "Junior" Bryant, class of 1925, with the assistance of Dartmouth's Associate Librarian Harold Rugg, class of 1906. Bryant had taken a class from Rugg during his student days at Dartmouth and had fallen in love with books as a result. Over several decades, Bryant worked with Rugg and his successor Edward Lathem, class of 1951, to curate an amazing gathering of texts that is rich in archeological works, histories of Spanish towns and institutions, dictionaries, travel guides, art books, philology, various ethnic groups within Spain, and geography.

While selecting materials for the Spanish class, we came across many fascinating items, including a A hand-colored engraving of the entire world, represented as two circles to portray both sides of the globe.pocket atlas that was printed in Madrid in 1711. The charming little volume is filled with fold-out illustrations and maps, most of which have been hand-colored with enthusiasm, if not with care. The map of Spain colorfully divides the country into clear regions, and there is a delightful map of the heavens that shows all of the creatures of the zodiac filling the sky. The engraving of the entire world includes a representation of California as an island and some random mountains above it, a signal that the reader's guess is as good as the engraver's or author's as to what awaits future explorers to the region. One of the high school students was struck by the fact that these images of the world would have been taken as fact for Spanish people of the 1700s, despite their many inaccuracies. For us, helping to provide these sorts of intellectual discoveries is even more exciting than finding a lost treasure among our stacks.

To explore Francisco de Afferden's Atlas Abreviando, come to Rauner and ask for Bryant G1015 .A3 1711.

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