Princeton University Library acquires rare Ottoman atlas

April 13, 2010 10:12 a.m.

Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has acquired a rare Ottoman atlas, Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (New Atlas Translation), as part of its Historic Maps Collection.

Printed in Istanbul in 1803 in an edition of just 50 copies, the atlas is the first Muslim-published world atlas based upon European geographic knowledge and cartographic methods.

The Library of Congress reports just seven extant copies in Istanbul, and it appears that there are only three other copies located in the U.S.: the Library of Congress, Newberry Library in Chicago and the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, R.I. These are the only known complete copies outside of Turkey.

The atlas is based upon the General Atlas of William Faden, a copy of which was acquired by Mahmud Raif Efendi when he was a private secretary at the Ottoman embassy in London. While still in London, Mahmud Raif Efendi wrote a geographic work, İcalet (or Ucalet) ül-Coğrafya, in French. This was translated into Turkish, printed in 1804 and bound with the Cedid Atlas Tercümesi. This modernizing bureaucrat also is the author of Tableau des Nouveaux Reglemens de l'Empire Ottoman, a work describing military reforms undertaken in the empire. The Princeton University Library also owns a copy of this important work.

The purchase of Cedid Atlas Tercümesi was supported by the Rare Books Division and the Friends of the Princeton University Library. 

Media interested in more information should contact Curator of Historic Maps John Delaney.