Rare map of Virginia added to our Collection

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MSM 1---1914.jpeg
New Map of Virginia, J. W. Randolph, 1861. MSM1-1914

The Mariners’ Library is pleased to announce the addition of a significant map of Virginia to the cartographic collection. Titled New Map of Virginia compiled from the latest maps 1861, this pocket map was published in mid-1861 by the Richmond, Virginia firm of J. W. Randolph. Other Richmond area firms involved in the printing of the map include Husted & Nenning, credited with drawing and coloring it, and Hoyer and Ludwig, credited as the lithographers. Scholars consider this map a rare Confederate imprint, with fewer than ten known examples in libraries and museums throughout the United States.

The map depicts Virginia on the eve of the Civil War, with the counties that would eventually form West Virginia still shown as part of the Commonwealth. A more precise dating of the map indicates that it
must have been printed after April 1861, as it includes Bland County, which was formed from portions of Giles, Tazewell, and Wythe Counties by an act of the General Assembly on March 30, 1861. In addition, the map includes insets in the upper right corner of the areas around Harpers Ferry and Norfolk Harbor and vicinity.   Read more

Carta Marina, 1567 Edition

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Carta Marina, from DL45 .O43 1567 Rare, Museum Library

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Library has a 1567 Latin edition of Olaus Magnus’ Historia Olai Magni Gothi archiepi scopi vpsalensis, de gentium septentrionalium (History of the Northern Peoples).  It contains a simplified woodcut of his famous Carta Marina map.  Unfortunately, I was not able to show a photograph of it due to its condition and the difficulty of photographing it.

Thanks to the efforts of Brock Switzer, cultural heritage photographer, and Emilie Duncan, paper conservator, I can now share an image of the 1567 edition of the Carta Marina.   Read more

Sea Monsters Revisited – The Carta Marina and beyond

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Olaus, Magnus, Archbishop of Uppsala, 1490-1557. 1572. “Carta marina.” University of Minnesota Libraries, James Ford Bell Library., Accessed March 23, 2021. https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/item/p16022coll251:138

As noted in a previous blog, one of the most famous and intriguing maps of the 16th Century is Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina, first published in 1539.  The Carta Marina depicts the geography of Northern Europe, the British Isles and Iceland. More importantly, it is populated with figures from Scandinavian history and folklore, and with animals both real and imagined.

In 1555 Magnus published his Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples), which included a black and white version of the Carta Marina.  The library has a 1561 Italian edition of the work, Storia d’Olao Magno, arcivescovo d’Vspali, de’ costvmi de’ popoli settentrionali, as well as a 1567 Latin edition.  The 1567 edition in the library contains a simplified version of the Carta Marina. The 1572 version depicted below is from the University of Minnesota Libraries, James Ford Bell Library.   It will have to stand in for the example in the Museum’s library due to the condition of the map and the difficulty of photographing it.   Read more

African Americans and the Newport News Port of Embarkation in World War I

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Corporal Benjamin Harrison Splowne, Museum Collection

He stands there, tall and proud, gazing into the camera, a backdrop of the United States Capitol behind him.  Dressed in a high-collared wool uniform with a corporal’s rank insignia sewn on his right sleeve, Benjamin Harrison Splowne had reason to beam.  Drafted in June 1917 into the National Army, he was promoted to the rank of corporal within a few months of his induction.

Exactly where and when this photograph was taken is subject to speculation.  It is conceivable that it was taken in Newport News, as Benjamin Harrison Splowne was stationed at Camp Hill, Virginia for a brief while in 1917.  In fact, he was promoted to corporal on November 16, 1917 at Camp Hill, shortly before shipping overseas.  The Museum is fortunate to have his promotion certificate, along with his studio portrait, for they help document the often-overlooked role of African American soldiers during World War I, both in Newport News as well as abroad.   Read more