The Hispanic Society, founded in 1904, houses a treasure-trove of cartographic manuscript material. It is amazing to realize the bulk of its collection was acquired in a few brief years prior to the First World War. The book succeeds on two levels -- as an exhibition catalog its high quality plates illustrate many rarities, some never before published. It also updates and expands E.L. Stevenson's 1911 Brief History of Portolan Charts, a scarce and important reference work. Research conducted since Stevenson's time has shed new light on some of the Society's holdings, and recent cleaning and restoration of some charts and globes revealed new information, which has been documented in this volume. Material acquired since Stevenson's book was published is included. Each plate is described in detail; a helpful feature in each caption is a notation which cites the page number for the descriptive text. There is an index and a room-by-room listing of material on display at the Society. The works of dozens of early cartographers are arranged chronologically, ranging from a chart of the Mediterranean by Jacobus de Giroldis in 1447, to an anonymous Spanish chart of the Caribbean dated circa 1750. There is a separate section devoted to globes, including a rare model by Herman Moll of circa 1711. This volume does justice to the Society's collection, and to the memory of E.L. Stevenson.
Jon K. Rosenthal, 1993
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