Old Maps in Rapperswill

When Mrs. Joanna Umiastowska donated in mid-eighties to the Library of  the Polish Museum in Rapperswil a marvellous cartographic collection of her late husband, the Museum decided to create a full catalogue of its maps. It had already been in possession of several maps given by Tadeusz Szmitkowski and other occasional donors, whose names remain unknown. Among many other persons who greatly contributed to the development of the Collection of Rapperswil is Jan Nowak Jezioranski, who not only convinced Mr. Roman Umiastowski to bequeath his valuable maps to Rapperswil, but he himself donated some excellent specimens which are exhibited together with Jadwiga and Jan Nowak collection, in the Burghof tenement house, adjacent to the reading room of our Library. Another contributor to the collection was Mr. Adam Heymowski of Stockholm, who frequently presented the Museum with maps of historically Polish territories, which he discovered in Sweden.

The Library and the Nowak Collection are outside Rapperswil Castle, which for more than a hundred years has been housing the Museum of Polish History in the building at the Main Square of the "Town of Roses", just on the side of the Zurich Lake. Burghof a tenement house owned by Polish Cultural Foundation Libertas, which finances the Museum, is one of the grandest buildings in Rapperswil. No wonder that Cartographia Rappersviliana Polonorum, or a collection of more than 750 maps of historical Polish territories was placed in an archive located in that pearl of architecture. The collection itself may seem not too rich, but it provides a very interesting insight in the history of Polish cartography and includes many unique copies of the most characteristic maps of Poland and bordering territories, dating from 15th to end 19th century. The maps have been grouped by geographic regions: World/Europe, Poland as such, Galicia/Little Poland (Malopolska), Livonia, Lithuania, Pomerania, Prussia, Silesia, Ukraine, Creat Poland (Wielkopolska), water charts, Eastern Europe, city maps and, fmally, atlases and books of charts. The collection includes a few maps of Italian province of Lavoro, where the hill of Monte Cassino is. The maps are a part of Roman Umiastowski's separate collection of Monte  Cassino, which includes also many precious documents and books on the famous effort of Polish army during World War II. The "geographical" key to cataloguing the maps is undoubtedly controversial and may prove unacceptable to some experts who prefer grouping by author, atlas or publishing house; another preferred method is by specific historical period or by printing style or technique. Each of those keys has its virtues and faults and clearly reflects interests and attitudes of the author of description or catalogue. However, let us avoid here a discussion on the techniques of cataloguing. All the above dilemmas considered, the division by geography was chosen for the catalogue of  Cartographia Rappersvlliana Polonorum, as some other method would result in splitting the already limited collection into remote groups with very weak topical interconnections. The geographical method emphasises the contents of maps and acquaints readers with territorial changes of the Polish state in history, which is of basic importance, as some of the visitors may not be residents of Poland. The technique also seemed correspondent to the historical profile of the Museum, and, finally, it was the handiest to me, as a geographer.

The catalogue is preceded by a short essay on some outstanding cartographers works included maps of Poland belonging to the collection of Rapperswil. Some celebrities of cartography are mentioned due to their input in the development of the presen-tation of the part of Europe in question; they include Ptolemy, Wapowski, Grodecki and Wilhelm le Vasseur de Beauplan. On the other hand, there is no mention on sucli luminaries as Ortelius, Mercator, Blaeu or Sanson, as they had no influence on the development of cartography of the area in question, although their works included maps of Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Silesia and Livonia.

Individual items of the catalogue are descriptions of all the maps included in the collection as of February 1st, 1994, chronologically, numbered from I to X within eac chapter. The chapters cover individual geographic regions (please see above notes on the division by regions). Descriptions are complete and integral, with as little cross-references as possible, so that the reader could find under one heading all the information available in the catalogue. Each heading has the following structure:

No. Full Title
Authors, Place and Year of Publication
Scale, Gauge
Type of Copy, Character of the Map
Characteristic Features
Physico-geographical Elements
Anfropo-geographical Elements
Frame, Size
Map Inventory No/Library Inventory No

The above key allows for correct and error-free interpretation of the contents of th catalogue. The "|" marks division of the title into lines, while the original print style an size was preserved wherever possible. The above refers also interpretation of all the additional texts on the map or on its reverse side. Characteristic Features include water marks and hand-written notes or commentaries by previous owners. Such notes are often valuable hints for identification of a map. Wherever possible, I tried to reflect the size of a map, by providing three standard dimensions: (a) size of the sheet, (p) size of the matrix and (r) size of the frame. Size of the sheet is often another important hint, suggesting the atlas of which the map may be a part. Probable or uncertain data are given in brackets (), while square brackets signify that it is impossible to verify a piece of information, which is supplied only by analogy with other maps or atlases. Finally, the catalogue includes numerous illustrations which present maps or their fragments and the colour cover with reproductions of 64 maps, which are a source of information in themselves and reproductions of 8 grate maps and views from one of the most interesting private polish cartogtaphy collection in Switzerland - collection of Jerzy Kitkowski (Opfikon).

The catalogue is appended with five indexes: of names, places of publication, illustrations, inventory numbers and collections, which allow for fast search and identification of necessary data.

The full catalogue with black-and-white illustrations is available on diskettes in AmiPro 3.0, for convenient access and regular update; it may also be wholly or partially converted into other formats.

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