Highlights of 2022 JCB Acquisitions

Image of the Harpie item acquired by the JCB in 2022.

Curators Berie Mandelblatt and José Montelongo and Director Karin Wulf selected a handful of the new items we acquired for the Library in 2022. These ten items point to the range of our collecting interests, and also our focus on the totality of the collection; we are always considering how an item enhances and interacts with what we already hold and what areas we are aiming to enhance. Once an item is acquired it still needs to be formally accessioned, cataloged, and digitized. We are working hard to make them discoverable through our catalog and available for researchers as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, please enjoy these 2022 highlights, and stay tuned for news about 2023 acquisitions!

Watercolor of a Danish Slaving “Castle” on the Coast of Ghana

Christiansborg Castle, c. 1800. Christian August Lorentzen (1749-1828).

This watercolor was painted by a Danish artist more associated with royal portraiture in oil than landscape or watercolor. We think this was painted not from life but from information and possibly another image included in the records of the Danish West India Company. The highly stylized, romanticized representation of the “castle” and the individuals around it, the manner of its production, the importance of this structure for independent Ghana, in addition to the relative paucity of contemporary views of these structures, all make this a compelling image for the JCB.

Locating Women Writers and Creators

[Milcah Martha Moore], Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive. Philadelphia, 1787.

This is the first edition of a many-times reprinted volume compiled by the Philadelphia editor, writer, and teacher Milcah Martha Moore. Though it has a contemporary binding, like many copies of this book, it shows evidence of intensive ownership and use –in this case by three generations. It is significant in itself, and particularly as the work of a woman author/creator, but also because, in the process of researching whether our Library held a copy, we turned our attention to a major, still uncatalogued, acquisition made by the JCB some years ago–hundreds of volumes of mostly 18th century, English language North American imprints. It turned out we didn’t have a copy, and now we do.

An Inside View of an Early New England Prison

[Richard Brunton] A Prospective View of Old Newgate (c 1799 or 1870?)

When engraver and counterfeiter Richard Brunton was imprisoned at Connecticut’s Old Newgate Prison in East Granby, he turned his talents to the geography of his incarceration. Many of Brunton’s engravings, largely of family record forms, are held by libraries and societies throughout New England, and his work has been the subject of a recent book and a small database. This piece is unusual for Brunton because of the people and structures he depicts. There is also a mystery around this engraving, as paper and other analyses have failed to determine whether it was printed from the plate later in the 19th century. 

Funeral Procession in-Absentia

Pompa funeral y real mausoleo (México, 1645)

This book describes the funeral monument erected in Mexico’s Cathedral for Queen Isabel de Bourbon, wife of Philip IV of Spain, who died in Madrid in 1644 at the age of 41. It chronicles the ceremonies and composition of funeral processions: bureaucracy and nobility, religious orders and schools, indigenous caciques dressed in mourning clothing according to their custom, free and enslaved Black people, and every corporation and confraternity active in colonial society. This exciting acquisition offers a microcosm of New Spain united in mourning following the passing of the Queen.

Hand-colored Engraving of a Mythical Monster Captured in South America

Harpie. Description envoyée à M. de Soubise par M. le duc de Crillon. Turin, 1784. 

This broadside illustrates a monstrous creature allegedly captured “in the Kingdom of Santa Fé in Peru in the province of Chile.” It includes a description of the harpie’s discovery, capture, gargantuan appetite, and the route by which the creature would be transported to Europe and presented to the Spanish Royal Court. An anonymous revolutionary caricature depicting Queen Marie-Antoinette as this monstrous harpie circulated in the 1780s.

Tarantula Trigger Warning

Ramón María Termeyer, Opuscoli scientifici d'entomologia, di fisica e d'agricoltura. (Milan, 1807-1810) 

These five volumes contain the results of the studies in entomology, physics, and agriculture conducted by Jesuit naturalist Ramón Maria Termeyer, a Cadiz-born missionary assigned to Paraguay in 1764. Termeyer conducted research in the natural sciences, mainly on spiders, and on the agricultural practices of the Guaraní and Mocoví peoples at the San Javier Mission near the Paraná River. After the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish domains, he traveled to Europe with the spiders he had collected, established himself in Italy, and experimented with the manufacture of garments made out of spider webs.

The City of the Kings in Full Color

Ignacio Martorell, “Plano de la Ciudad de los Reyes, o Lima Capital del Reino de Perú.” N.d. [ca. 1780]. [Lima]. Pen and ink manuscript map.

This magnificent manuscript map was the only map of this caliber produced by architect Ignacio Martorell. It depicts Lima - the City of Kings - in contemporary wash color. Martorell’s own work as one of the premier architects working in Peru in the latter 18th century, specifically his work on the Cathedral of Lima, helped experts to date the map to ca. 1780. The Cathedral is included in the ornate numbered key, which lists a total of 70 notable urban structures such as state buildings, churches and hospitals. Most sat within the city walls, but 14 city gates and sites found beyond the walls are also included. The map’s central visual contrasts are the vivid red of the urban built environment, the greens of the cultivated land, the gold decorative frame of the key, and the gray and black rendering of the topography of Cerro San Cristobal. The latter was the closest Andean peak to the fertile floodplain occupied by the city, and it sat across the Rimac River in the upper part of the map. This map is the capstone of the JCB’s collection of Lima maps, which includes the first printed map of the city, the “Lima, Ciudad de los Reyes” engraved by Joseph Mulder (1688).

Mapping Liberty in the Revolutionary Caribbean

“Carte géométrique et géographique de l'île de Sainte-Lucie La Fidèle…” [1792-1794]; Manuscript watercolour map.

This oversize manuscript map of the island of St. Lucia in the eastern Caribbean was either made by or for Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau. The vicomte de Rochambeau was the son of the victorious Marshal Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, commander of the French land forces who joined Washington in 1780, who served in Rhode Island. Rochambeau fils had an extraordinary military career that took him throughout the French empire, including a period as governor of the Windward Islands, including St. Lucia, in the revolutionary years of the 1790s when this map was made. The map provides a series of uniquely rendered perspectives of the topography of the mountainous island, but its most striking feature is the exceptional naming of the regions and districts. We see names that would soon disappear in full revolutionary republican fervor, including “Quartier du Tricolor,” “Quartier de la Nation,” and “Quartier et Paroisse du Patriot.” The contradictions between this utopian visualization of France’s overseas territories under Rochambeau and his own role leading the brutal and ultimately unsuccessful French campaign against revolutionaries a decade later in what is today Haiti make this map an invaluable tool for understanding the role of cartography in revolution.

The “Mother Map” of North America

Guillaume Delisle, “Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi…” [Paris],1718.

This expansive map of the interior of what is now the United States stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern seaboard. It was produced by Guillaume Delisle, the foremost French cartographer of the early 18th century. Delisle’s attention to accuracy, insistence on measurement, and verifiable evidence in mapmaking ushered in a new era of scientific cartography. This map is one of the most historically significant maps of North America, including, for example, the first iteration of the name “Texas” on a printed map, present here as “Teijas.” Delisle incorporated the most current information from explorers’ expeditions into his maps. This depiction derived from the reports coming from the French who were actively settling the mouth of the Mississippi River. Indeed, the map sets out the broadest possible French claims for the Louisiana colony and beyond, even harkening back to the French origins of the Carolinas. As the leading authority on the Louisiana territory for many decades, it was widely copied by European cartographers. The JCB has several other editions and states of the map printed over a 65-year span. This year, however, we were able to acquire the very rare first state of the map. It dates back so far, in fact, that the name “New Orleans” - just founded in 1718 - does not appear on the map, as it does on every subsequent state. 

The World’s a Game: Who’s in the Lead?

André Basset. Jeu Instructif des Peuples et Costumes des Quatre Parties du Monde et des Terres Australes. Paris, Basset, 1815.

This geographical board game takes the form of a journey around the world that stretches from China to France, with each game square showing one of the designated peoples of the world. These peoples include many from the Americas (California, Chile, Iroquois, Peru, Mexico, the Amazon River, Guiana) in addition to peoples from territories recently discovered by Europeans in the late 18th century, such as Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Java, and Tahiti. The game’s instructions are printed in the center of the game board, and the game itself follows the spiral form of a traditional French game played as early as the 1570s, called jeu de l’oie or ‘game of the goose.’ Produced by the firm of André Basset, which published maps, games and engravings, the game combines European-dominated world geography and playfulness. But in this game - as in all games - there are winners and losers. Landing on a European country advances you more quickly than landing on other game squares despite the attempts made by the game designers to depict the world’s geography, as known by Europeans in 1815, with some kind of accuracy. This game joins the JCB’s growing collection of geographical games and playing cards which similarly manifest diversion and geopolitics in equal measure.