Rediscovering the Jansson & Hondius Atlases of Henry Vignaud

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Exhibit Summary

Rediscovering the Jansson & Hondius Atlases of Henry Vignaud

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Henry Vignaud, an American diplomat living in Paris, was amassing a large personal library, including books, atlases, maps, and other publications.  In 1923-4 the University of Michigan acquired his library from his widow.  His map collection was divided between the William L. Clements Library and the Stephen S. Clark Library.

Part of his extensive collection includes maps from the 17th century publishing houses of the Hondius & Jansson families. Many of Vignaud's maps were extracted from broken atlases.  Erin Platte and Tim Utter, staff of the Clark Library, have sought to organize these maps based on physical characteristics and similarities, with the goal of reconfiguring the original atlases.  This exhibit features samples of the results of their efforts.

These atlases in the Vignaud Map Collection present the opportunity to study how maps were printed, compiled, bound, and sold in the publishing houses of 17th century Amsterdam.  One of the reasons that these maps and atlases are so unique is that they lack text on the verso.  Generally, after the maps were printed and the paper and ink were dry, the text would be printed on the reverse side.  Sometimes the map stock would sit without text so that updated or translated texts could be printed on older maps.  Also, a map pile could become out of order when newer maps were put on top instead of at the bottom, and this may account for the great variation in states of maps in the same atlas title.  This is an important point and forms part of our understanding of why so many differences exist between Hondius and Jansson's Appendices and Theatri.

This exhibit features only a portion of the Vignaud Map Collection at the Clark Library.  Additional Vignaud maps can also be found at the William L. Clements Library. 

Curated by Erin Platte, Rare Map & Cataloging Assistant