Georg Braun (1541-1622) never visited the majority of the cities he wrote about in Civitates Orbis Terrarum (The Cities of the World), the earliest systematic city atlas. Still, the book he edited and produced--published in six folio volumes between 1572 and 1635--had global ambitions. Thanks to the generosity of Michael R. Stone T'84, the first of these spectacular volumes is now part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
The Civitates portrays more than 450 cities across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America in hand-colored engravings. Within the cityscapes, the illustrations are most notable for showing scenes of everyday life in each location--diverse people in contemporary costume, tools, musical instruments, livestock, and ships. Like many scholarly projects today, the Civitates was conceived as an international effort. Braun secured contributions of artwork from a European network of cartographers and artists, among them Dutch mapmaker Jacob van Deventer and the Flemish Abraham Ortelius, whose Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World) is considered the first modern atlas.
The acquisition of this atlas marked a turning point for Rubenstein Library's collection of rare maps and atlases. In addition to this remarkable work, the Rubenstein Library has received a number of important materials for its growing collection, all thanks to the kindness of Michael Stone.
One of these works is Theodor de Bry's Historia Americae siue Noui Orbis (The History of America), a magnificent collection of voyages published during the early golden age of European exploration. Published in 1634 in 13 parts, the collection presents more than a century of European effort to take possession of the New World. Rubenstein Library holds all 13 parts, including the "Elenchus," which was printed separately and gives a comprehensive view of the American voyages and the order in which they should be read. Only six known copies of the "Elenchus" remain.
Both the Civitates Orbis Terrarum and the Historia Americae siue Noui Orbis are available for viewing at the Rubenstein Library. We are deeply grateful to Michael Stone for these extraordinary gifts.
Learn More: Rubenstein Library's Rare Maps & Atlases