Atlases Online: 15
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This component of Mr. Darlington’s collection provides keen insight to his sharp interest in geography and exploration. It includes more than one hundred volumes ranging from world travel and exploration to state atlases with county maps. The oldest world atlases, in contemporary bindings, contain maps enhanced with beautiful illustrations of sea monsters or beasts, sometimes a unicorn, occasionally cannibals, frequently a sailing vessel, mermaids of course, and other figures that cause one’s imagination to run wild.
Amongst the rare atlases, Simon Gyrnaeus, in his 1532 edition of Novus Orbis Regio, adequately defines South America but North America appears as a very narrow strip of land described as “Terra de Cuba.” By 1573, the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, includes in his atlas a group of seven maps of “America,” providing better definition to the New World than many other atlases had up to that time.
While the world atlases occupy a special niche in the Darlington Collection, atlases of Pennsylvania and those for neighboring states reinforce the appreciation that Mr. Darlington had for colonial American and state history. Indeed, while the regions depicted in faraway places in world atlases may conjure up vivid images, Mr. Darlington never strayed from his romance with the French and English struggle for the empire that constituted the New World.