Magnificent Maps
April 30, 2010 4:43 AM   Subscribe

The Klencke Atlas of 1660 (video), the world's largest book.
Grayson Perry's Map of Nowhere (video)
Many more maps and videos at the BBC's The Beauty of Maps site.
Would you like to see these maps in person? The British Library has just opened their exhibition Magnificent Maps where you can see these among 80 treasures from their map collection, many never seen before.
posted by vacapinta (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure he'd be too modest to mention it himself, but RokkitNite's recently-released book about the perils of publishing has a sequence of events where he goes to a book fair and poses as a publisher whose company's only aim is to produce a "big book" – no ideas for actual content yet, but it's going to be a physically massive book.

The Klencke Atlas – what is it, six feet tall? – is the closest thing I've yet seen to a realisation of that ridiculous dream. It's good to know that amongst the Dutch nobility of the seventeenth century, there was the same dream of impractically massive books as status symbols.
posted by him at 5:07 AM on April 30, 2010

On Exactitude in Science . . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658
posted by empath at 5:19 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been watching The Beauty of Maps and it is a fantastic series. The first episode introduced me to the Hereford Mappa Mundi and now I hope some day to see it in person. Lucky Brits who get to see the museum exhibit-- your British Library is such a magnificent resource.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:21 AM on April 30, 2010

The world's bigggest book
posted by dhruva at 5:38 AM on April 30, 2010

I hate to disagree, but that is not the word's largest book. That title goes to my brother, who published a book on Bhutan in 2003.
posted by plinth at 6:38 AM on April 30, 2010

Your brother is the world's largest book? That must be awkward.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:05 AM on April 30, 2010

"Not available in your area"

*sniff* Now I know what it feels like to be a European trying to watch a Hulu post.

Anyway, the British Library remains one of my favorite things ever.
posted by Think_Long at 8:23 AM on April 30, 2010

[Not available in your area]

If I turn my webcam on so they can watch what I'm doing, it's like I'm in the UK, right?
posted by xedrik at 9:05 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The first episode introduced me to the Hereford Mappa Mundi and now I hope some day to see it in person.

I'm really tempted to get the replica they showed in that episode.
posted by Tenuki at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2010

This was going to be a post until I searched and saw vacapinta had beaten me to the Magnificent Maps site. Was looking at just the one artist, Stephen Walter:
The Island "satirises the London-centric view of the English capital and its commuter towns as independent from the rest of the country. The artist, a Londoner with a love of his native city, offers up a huge range of local and personal information in words and symbols." "It's a kind of proto Google Maps, rendered in crude pencil rather than crisp pixels. But it's a heroic attempt at a individual reading of the city..." Walter has done Liverpool too. He features in this BBC programme, but you'll have to be in the UK to view.
posted by Abiezer at 1:29 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Damn. The Island did deserve its own post! Sorry, Abiezer.
posted by vacapinta at 6:14 AM on May 1, 2010

From the exhibit:

Ten of the Greatest: Maps that Changed the World

posted by mlis at 9:53 PM on May 13, 2010

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