U of M Libraries receives 540 year old book containing first printed maps

December 14, 2015

A rare example of the Rudimentum Novitiorum, a chronicle of the world printed in 1475, containing the Europe's first printed map of the world, has been acquired by the James Ford Bell Trust for the benefit of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.

“The Rudimentum Novitiorum is one of the rarest and most significant pieces we have,” said Dr. Ford W. Bell, trustee and the grandson of James Ford Bell, who was the founder of General Mills. “We are thrilled to have acquired it and are looking forward to sharing it.”                 
                                                                                                                                               
The 474-page volume was intended to educate the novice with an encyclopedic collection of human knowledge, incorporating history, geography, and scripture.

Among the Rudimentum’s thick 18-by-12-inch folio pages and some 150 pictorial woodcuts. The maps incorporate Biblical history and mythology, including the Garden of Eden and the Pillars of Hercules, suggesting that they were not intended to be literal, but rather broad teaching aids for new learners. The first is a map of the world in a circular form, with a hill representing each country. The second is a more familiar-looking map of the Holy Land, which features Jerusalem at its core and the Red Sea to the south.

The rare volume “is exactly what James Ford Bell envisioned for his library, which is showing the growth of human knowledge through trade. There are very few books that do that as well as the Rudimentum,” Crouch said.

“This recent addition shines a light on the Bell collection, already one of the best in the world, and we are thrilled to make it available as an important resource for scholars and the public alike, ” said Wendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian, University of Minnesota.

About The James Ford Bell Library
The James Ford Bell Library documents the history and impact of international trade prior to ca. 1800 C.E. Its premier collection of rare books, maps, and manuscripts illustrates the ways in which cultural influence expanded worldwide, with a special emphasis on European interactions. Through its collections, and innovative programs, The Bell Library supports scholarship and education at all levels, and enriches our community. More at https://www.lib.umn.edu/bell.

About the James Ford Bell Trust
The James Ford Bell Trust is best known for its strategic acquisitions with the purchase of the second most expensive printed rare map ever sold, Matteo Ricci’s 1602 “Impossible Black Tulip.” It is a massive map showing the world with China at its center and the first in Chinese to show the Americas, and to incorporate both Eastern and Western cartography house.


More at http:/jfblassoc.org.  

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