Cartographic Collections

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The cartographic patrimony is constituted from over 50.000 geological, geo-thematic and topographical maps preserved in the Cartographic section of the Library. The Cartographic Collection descends from that of the historical Library of the Geological Survey of Italy, from which it has inherited the rich patrimony.

The collection has origin in the years immediately following the unity of Italy, with the institution of the Geological Committee and the Library in 1868.

Actually, it couldn’t be spoken of an organic establishment of the collection before 1883, when the Geological Survey, to which the Library had been in the meantime assigned, finally had a permanent headquarter in Rome.

Since then the library has been at the center of a dense network of exchanges of publications with the most important national research institutions and with similar institutions in other countries.

The geographical covering of the maps extends to about one hundred and seventy countries of the world and represents, also for the period of more than one hundred and fifty years, a priceless historical and cultural value. In this huge collecting over a thousand have a particular value as they are first editions or cartographic originals; many are handmade watercolor drafts with margin notes and archival documents that complement their deep historical and cultural significance.

The handwritten Italian cartographic production of the late 1800, realized by famous scholars who had worked or collaborated with the Geological Survey of Italy, like Giuseppe Ponzi, Domenico Zaccagna, Igino Cocchi, Torquato Taramelli, Bernardino Lotti, Luigi Baldacci, Vittorio Novarese and others, represents the emblem of a science with a solid cultural foundation, which was being born in that period in Italy.

The cartographic section, where historical maps are located, is divided by geographical area. The Italian maps are arranged by originating region; foreign maps are arranged by Nation.

Almost the totality of these maps have been restored, historically analyzed, catalogued with ISBD-CM Standard, indexed through the ThIST Thesaurus of Earth Sciences, digitized (at 300 dpi) and many are already viewed and downloaded in high definition from the on-line Library catalogue: