I. A Map Collector’s Odyssey – Peter M. Enggass

My interest in maps began when I was eight years old. My grandfather sent me his bound volumes of the National Geographic magazine, dating from 1903 to 1935, and their maps became a constant source of learning and pleasure as I grew up. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1949, serving in Korea, and then working in the family retail business for five years, I returned to Michigan for the M.A. program in European History. Intrigued by those old Geographic maps, I finally sampled a semester of geography courses and decided that geography was the field of study for me. I purchased my first map while studying and traveling in Europe during 1961. In the window of Martin Veeneman’s antiquarian bookshop in The Hague, I spotted a 1554 map by Sebastian Münster, depicting an “upside down” Old World with Europe at the bottom and Africa at the top. My interest in early maps was reinforced the following year, when I enrolled in George Kish’s course on the history of cartography at Michigan. Prof. Kish was a leading scholar of early maps and was, until his death in 1989, a director of Imago Mundi: The International Journal of the History of Cartography. He became my mentor. At the Clements Library I researched several map bibliographies for him, including one listing every Ortelius atlas in the Library’s collection. In 1964, while I was living in Spain, Prof. Kish invited me to join him in London for the first International Conference on the History of Cartography. I have since attended a few other such conferences, most recently in Amsterdam in 1989, and I look forward to 2003 when the Osher Map Library will co-host the conference with the Harvard Map Library. The turning point in my life as a map collector occurred during a sabbatical in London, in Spring 1972, when I met Tony Campbell. Now head of the British Library’s map library, Mr. Campbell was then working in the map department of Weinreb & Douwma, a well-known antiquarian map store. He advised me to focus my embryonic collection on either a country, region, or cartographer in order to develop thematic coherence within the collection. He also sold me what has become my favorite map–the 1613/1617 Typus Hispaniae by Hessel Gerritsz (39)–then known to be one of only two copies in existence. I subsequently sold off most of my non-Spanish maps to pay for my new acquisitions.

Since that fateful day, over twenty-five years ago, I have gradually added to my collection of Iberian maps. It now totals over eighty-five maps, covering the period 1486 to 1829. As my collection grew, I treasured each map for what it had to offer: a graphic and pictorial history of religion, exploration, custom, and trade. I have tried, for the most part, to collect representative maps from as many different cartographers as I could find. The rate of new acquisitions has steadily declined as I already owned most of the available maps. Thus hampered by the limitations of the marketplace, I further narrowed my focus to regional maps, in particular those of Andalucia (24-28), the subject of my doctoral dissertation, Land Reclamation and Resettlement in the Lower Guadalquivir Basin (Spain). Next, I sought out early sea charts from 16th-century European coast pilots by Dudley, Wagenhaer, Janssonius, and Sellers (9-15). I continue to purchase 16th-century maps whenever they become available which, I’m sorry to say, is not often nowadays. Most recently, just last December, I acquired a map by Bernardus Sylvanus, notable for being one of the earliest examples of two-color printing, from the 1511 Venice edition of Ptolemy’s Geography (4). When I retired as Chair of the Geography and Geology Department at Mt. Holyoke in 1992, some twenty framed maps decorated my office walls. Other than a few more mounted on the walls of my den in my home in Maine, my map collection was stored in closets and under my bed. Finally, I had accumulated so many maps that I had no place to hang or store them! When I met Dr. Harold L. Osher in 1993, he suggested that I might consider giving my collection to USM, just as he and his wife Peggy had done in 1989, complementing the Smith Collection which had been deeded to the university several years before. I agreed with him that the Osher Map Library was the perfect place for my collection. Not only would the collection be properly housed in a secure, climate-controlled, state-of-the-art facility, but bibliographic access would be provided through an online (internet) database. My maps would thereby be available to students, faculty, and scholars for research. Furthermore, the general public would be able to see and learn from my maps through the library’s rotating exhibitions and public outreach programs. Giving my maps to USM has been doubly rewarding, both for me as a collector and scholar, and, I trust, for the Osher Map Library, in support of its mission as a public resource for the people of Maine. I hope the visitors who attend the Maps of Spain exhibition will derive as much pleasure in viewing the maps as I had in collecting them.