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An invaluable resource of primary material for research

Contained within the Fagel Library is its map collection, one of the finest in the world, and unsurpassable in terms of quality and standard of preservation. It is the only extant contemporary collection of this size that was assembled as the material was published as opposed to retrospectively. As an example of an early modern working library, the collection is unique.

The Collection comprises:

  • 600 volumes of contemporary accounts of travels, books on geography and other geographical material
  • 142 bound atlases comprising approximately 8,200 double folio maps
  • The ‘Fagel Atlas’: 2880 single map sheets contained in 25 portfolio boxes, and a further 3,500 cartographic items, mainly smaller in size and contained in 500 travel and historical volumes.

The Fagel Atlas is arranged into 25 portfolios, by geographical region, and a catalogue of these maps was published as the “Catalogue of the Fagel Collection of maps, plans, etc” as an appendix to T.K. Abbott’s Catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (1900). Catalogue descriptions are based on the bibliographical information recorded on the printed maps, but many items are undated and the author unrecorded.

The bound material ranges in date from 1490 to 1798 with the greater volume of material published in the eighteenth century. There are maps of all parts of the world, but with a particular emphasis on Europe and areas outside Europe where the Dutch had trading or colonial interests. This content includes examples of all kinds of cartographic material, from celestial charts to detailed plans of buildings and fortifications, with volumes on geographical theory and methodology.

Engraved titlepage of Blaeu’s Atlas Maior (Fag.Z.1.22)

From the collection:

  • The complete coloured set of Blaeu’s Atlas Major
  • The complete set of atlases published by Jacob van Meurs
  • Atlases, many coloured, by de Witt, Jannson, D’Anville, J.B. Homann, Sanson, Jaillots, van der Aa, Cantelli and Coronelli.
  • A large collection of first hand accounts of voyages of exploration, including those of Hudson, Tasman, Cook and Bligh.
  • Several hundred battle plans showing all major conflicts in Europe from 1650 to 1800, approximately 30 of which are in manuscript.
  • Detailed city maps including Ogilby’s 1676, 20-sheet map of London, and Buillet’s 1676, 12-sheet map of Paris.
  • The celestial atlases of Cellarius and Doppelmayr.
  • Sea atlases by Colom, van Keulen and the Neptune Français.

The atlases, and their contents, have never been fully catalogued. The cataloguing of the atlases is particularly important as many were assembled on a custom basis – atlases of the same name do not necessarily contain the same maps but reflect the individual requirements and budgets of each customer. For instance, the World Sea Atlas by Jacob Colom, 1668, contains 18 charts in the standard version, 56 in the Fagel edition.

The special nature of this collection, in terms of both its scope and condition, make it an invaluable resource of primary material for research across a number of disciplines. A project to digitise the cartographic material has been completed resulting in an image bank of in excess of 10,000 maps, and considerable progress has been made towards developing an initial catalogue of this material.