Dutch 17th cent. world map found stuffed up a chimney and restored

A rare Dutch Golden Age map of the world that was discovered, scrunched up in a ball, in a house in Aberdeenshire has been restored by conservators in a project said to be the most difficult one in their carriers.

Restoration of the map (by National Library of Scotland)

The map named Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula (“new map of all the world“) was designed by the Amsterdam-based cartographer Gerald Valck. It was probably published in London by George Wildey in around 1690. Until now, only two copies of Valck’s map were known: one is in the British Library in London and the other is in the Maritime Museum Rotterdam. The map was discovered by builders renovating an old house, rolled up and inserted into a chimney, probably to prevent draughts. More recent reports suggest that it was in a roof void in a historic house. Seeds and insect remains were found inside the map, which suggests that it had become home to rodents or birds.

Unrolling of the map (by National Library of Scotland)

Almost half of it had been lost, and the remainder was torn, distorted, dirty and extremely fragile. Gelatine was used to moisten the old adhesive and the map was separated into its eight sections. The sections were then placed in a humidifying chamber, to relax the paper and make it possible to open the folds and gradually flatten the map. The eight pieces were then dried under weighted boards. Fortunately, the inks and pigments were not water-soluble, so sections could be washed for one hour. The final step was to mount the eight sections together on a new paper lining. The restored map, which is now being digitised, will be displayed in Edinburgh for six weeks.

(after National Library of Scotland & The Art Newspaper)

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