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About the Lanman Collection

In 1980, a significant cartographic collection came to Yale as a gift from the family of the late Dr. Jonathan Trumbull Lanman, Yale '40, Yale Medical School '43 .

Dr. Lanman was truly "a man of many parts." He was instrumental in discovering that excess oxygen use in treating premature babies was a major cause of infant blindness. He was professor of pediatrics and chairman of the pediatrics department at the Down State Medical College of the State University of New York, and the author of many articles. He was director of the Center for Research for Mothers and Children at the National Institutes of Health. In addition to a distinguished career in medicine, he built an elegant collection of maps, books and globes, many focusing on the Orient, where he had served during World War II as a medical naval officer.

This early experience kindled a life-long interest in the Far East. Over the years he collected Japanese and Chinese maps, early travel accounts of voyages to the East, and prints, but his interest in cartography extended beyond those distant lands. He also collected important Italian maps of the sixteenth century, seventeenth-century Dutch maps from the Golden Age of Dutch cartography, and an outstanding group of globes.

Maps captured Dr. Lanman's attention while he was still a young student in the 1930's. His serious interest, however, began in the late 1960's. Over the next 15 years, prowling in shops at home and abroad and working with knowledgeable dealers, he built his collection. Purchases were made in Istanbul, Vienna, Copenhagen, Milan, London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Cambridge, and in many cities in the United States.

The collection includes 24 globes, with representative examples of the work of English, American, German, French and Italian makers. Notable are a fine pair (celestial and terrestrial) of early American Wilson globes and a pair of very rare globes dated 1699 by Vincenzo Coronelli, the leading Italian map and globemaker of his time. More than 50 maps portray Asia, China, or Japan, both as mapped by such leading Europeans as Ortelius, Blaeu, and Speed, and by Chinese and Japanese cartographers. Several o f the latter are magnificent, beautifully-colored manuscript maps. There are fine copies of printed maps of the Tokugawa Era in Japan (1603-1867) done in woodblock on rice paper, folded in typical fashion and secured by small ivory pins.

Early cosmographies and travel books enhance the collection, including such important works as Petrus Apianus' Cosmographia (Paris 1553), and a rare edition of Pomponius Mela's De Situ Orbis Libri Tres (Basel 1522). The collection also incl udes a striking group of ukiyo-e prints which capture 19th-century Japanese scenes and Japanese impressions of Westerners.

Dr. Lanman retired from the National Institutes of Health in 1978. He made use of his new-found "leisure" and his proximity to the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress to continue scholarly work in the history of cartography, writing art icles and a monograph On the Origin of Portolan Charts (Chicago 1987). In 1979 he co-founded the Washington Map Society and in 1984 started its journal, The Portolan, which he edited until his death in 1988. Glimpses of History from Old Maps (Tring, England 1989) reflects a collector's joy and excitement in his collection. Now users of the Lanman Collection at Yale can share in his pleasure by using the materials which Dr. Lanman gathered together.

An endowment fund accompanied the gift of the collection and will ensure its continued growth.

From Nota Bene: News from the Yale Library, Vol. IV, No. 2, Spring 1990

Maps of the Lanman Collection

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Last updated August 10, 2000.