Philippe Vandermaelen (1795-1869): Atlas Universel (1827)

Atlas universel de géographie physique, politique, statistique et minéralogique, sur léchelle de 1/1641836 ou d’une ligne par 1900 toises. Dressé par Ph. Vandermaelen . . . Lithographié par H. Ode . . . . Brussels, 1827. 6 vols.: v. 1. Europe.--v. 2. Asie.--v. 3. Afrique.--v. 4. Amérique Septentrionale.--v. 5. Amérique Méridionale.--v. 6. Océanique. Each volume: 56 cm. high, 41 cm. wide. Princeton University Library call number: MAP Oversize 2009-0008E.

In March 2009, with substantial funds provided by the Friends of the Princeton University Library, supplemented with money from Rare Books, the Historic Maps Collection acquired a copy of Belgian cartographer Philippe Vandermaelen’s Atlas universel, consisting of approximately 380 conically projected sheets of maps and 40 pages of statistical tables in six volumes. This folio-size atlas is remarkable for several reasons. It is the first atlas produced by the then new printing process of lithography. It is also the first atlas to show the whole world in maps using a large uniform scale—about 26 miles to the inch. Moreover, the maps are designed to be joined into a three-dimensional terrestrial globe with a diameter of approximately 7.75 meters (almost 25 feet). The library's Digital Studio joined in our project to digitize the sheets so that they could be made available, in high resolution, over the web. In addition, because of the projection of the maps, we felt that stitching the continental maps together and wrapping their "skin" over a generic globe would provide a unique viewing experience--creating a virtual 3D version of Vandermaelen's physical globe. This was achieved by the library's GIS librarian, with some help from the university's Media Center.

This video shows a virtual rotating globe constructed from the Vandermaelen continental maps: the world as it was mapped in 1827. (The file takes a moment to load.).


© 2011 Princeton University Library


Individual sheets of the atlas can be accessed via the volumes below: