Maps were registered and kept in the library the same way as books for over a hundred years. Their different nature and shape have increasingly demanded a distinct handling from that of the books. This resulted in the creation in 1935 of the Library's Department of Prints and Maps from materials of single sheets, and paved the way for the establishment in 1939 of the Map Room as an independent department also caring for atlases.
The following objects are collected by the Map Dept: maps, atlases, relief maps, globes (terrestrial
and celestial), landscape drawings or vedutes (up to 1800). As part of the national library it
particularly seeks to preserve
The maps of the Map Dept are subdivided into several groups, namely: manuscript maps, printed maps showing Hungary or parts of it (until 1918: historical Hungary), other printed maps, landscape drawings, wall maps, relief maps, atlases, manuscript and printed cadastral maps, property sketches, globes. Most of the manuscript maps cover Hungarian territory. They include topographic maps of several Hungarian counties from the 18th century, drawn by Samuel Mikoviny (1700-1750), pioneer of modern Hungarian cartography. Hydrographic maps from the late 18th and early 19th centuries showing river control and drainage works are also very important. The earliest pieces of this group include two portolan maps of Hessel Gerrits drawn on parchment in 1621 and 1623. The Department also keeps the first cave map of Europe featuring the Aggtelek Stalactite Cave from 1794.
Mention should also be made however of Gratiosus Benincasa's 7-sheet portolan atlas made in 1474, showing the Mediterranean and the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean from the North Sea to present day Liberia. Although this work is one of the most valuable pieces of the entire Library but, as a work predating 1500, it is kept not by the Map Dept but by the Manuscript Department. The Library - and not the Map Dept (because it is part of a one-time closed private collection) - also possesses the only surviving copy of the oldest known map of Hungary made by Lazarus, secretary of Tamás Bakócz, archbishop of Esztergom, and printed by Petrus Apianus in Ingolstadt (Germany) in 1528.
The Department does hold however the works of outstanding Hungarian cartographers besides those
of almost all famous European mapmakers of the 16th - 18th centuries. Among those made by
foreigners the recently discovered fragments of the German version of the Map of Hungary, drawn by
Wolfgang Lazius of Vienna in 1556 (whose only copy in Latin language was the one kept in Basle)
Likewise among atlases works of major authors of the golden age of atlas cartography are also present, as is a masterpiece in 3 volumes of the dynasty of Willem Jansz. Blaeu from 1640.
From among the globes of the Department an interesting manuscript one, 132 cm in diameter, made by the Hungarian László Perczel in 1862, as well as a real rarity, a combined terrestrial-celestial globe with diameters of 21, 8 and 16 centimetres of the Czech Felkl Company may be mentioned.
Total registered units of the Map Dept now number close to 220,000. This makes it one of the largest cartographic collections of the country. Considering works related to Hungary however, it is the most comprehensive and exceptionally rich map archives in this country.
Handling of maps of the Department are made easier by catalogues. They include: alphabetical (by author and address), professional (based on the universal decimal classification), by press and publisher. Besides these atlases have chronological, while manuscript maps have printed volume catalogues, too (see next chapter).
Due to lack of space the Department had been moved several times into different buildings at various locations of Budapest during the first 35 years of its existence before finding its final and fitting place in the west wing of the one-time royal palace of Buda in 1975.
Manuscript Maps in the Map Department of the National Széchenyi Library. (Volume I. Separate Manuscript Maps)
The second largest manuscript map collection in Hungary is housed by the Map Department of the
National Széchenyi Library. Its origins are identical with the Library itself, as the bequest (dating
from 1802) of the library's founder Ferenc Szé-chényi contained a number of maps, among them over
200 manuscript maps. Over the years the number of manuscript maps has gradually grown, but there
were only three instances of considerable increase: the incorporation of the sets of the State Printing House between the two world wars,
of the Museum of Ethnography, and of the Keszthely Archives of Prince Festetics following the second world war.
As a result the Department was keeping a set of 2,081 units at the time of producing the register, apart from the cadastral manuscript maps and property
sketches that preceded them in the mid-19th century. The volume being reviewed here is a catalogue of these works.
The majority of these manuscript maps were made during the 18th and 19th centuries and most of them are unique pieces of work. They contain a huge amount of data that only survived in these maps. As a result they are valuable source materials for various studies. Maps showing the hydrography provide especially good information on the former terrain conditions.
The backbone of the volume is formed by the description of titles of maps. Each unit is attributed a detailed and systematic description (annotation).
The description of each map contains the following:
|Author||Provided that the map bears the name or it can be ascertained by some other way.|
|Title||If there originally was no title, or is missing due to damage, a title is given that fits the map's content and language.|
|Scale||When only linear scale is displayed on the map, unit length is given in mm. Units in other than metric system are conversed.|
|Place of production||If not expressly given, but the geographical area of the author's activity is known, then this area is recorded.|
|Time of production||For maps without dates the author's period of activity serves as basis but, as a last resort, style of drawing can also give a clue.|
|Draughtsman, copier||If different from the author, or if the map is only a copy, then the person's name is always recorded provided it can be ascertained.|
|Size||Given with 0.5 cm accuracy within the neat lines, for maps without borders full size is given, for atlases: height of spine, for globes diametre.|
|Insets||In some cases it happens that a detail of the main map is enlarged next to it, or a graphic view is displayed with a title; they are recorded both at the end of the description and in the index of titles.|
|Geographical position of the represented area||For settlements or estates:|
|For maps of counties of historical Hungary:|
the old Hungarian name of the county.
|Names of rivers, lakes, mountains, hills are recorded only in their familiar Hungarian names.|
|Theme - e.g. fief (socage), hydrological, litigation etc. maps||If hint on these subjects is expressly given in the title, then it will not be given in the description.|
|Colouring, drawing technique||e.g. pen-and-ink drawing etc.|
|Relief representation||e.g. hillocks, hachuring etc., lettering, height data.|
|Forest representation||recorded in graphic maps.|
|Representation methods of settlements.|
|Built-in and rural ("internal" and "external") areas||representation of plot boundaries, buildings, land use in the settlements; other related features.|
|Road and rail network.|
|Ornaments||cartouche, graphic events, features etc.|
|Explanation of colours, symbols, texts|
|Material of the map||if other than paper (e.g. parchment, transparency etc.).|
|Origin||name of original collection, or person from which or whom it was transferred to the Department.|
It was already mentioned that the set of manuscript maps have been built up of 4 major groups. The collection of Ferenc Széchenyi, the founder of the library, most of which was bought by his agents, is a medley; it does not seem to be a result of purposeful collecting. Many of them show the Hungarian- Turkish frontier zone of the 18th century.
The collection acquired from the archives of the family of Prince Festetics is basically divided into two groups. One of them is a mixture, consisting chiefly of 18th century maps. They had been collected by György (Georg) Festetics (1755-1819), a member of the family who had a great impact on Hungarian cultural life. Of the maps the topographic maps of 9 Hungarian counties made by Samuel Mikoviny (1700-1750), founder of modern Hungarian cartography, are considered by Hungarian scholars as especially valuable. Aspects of defence and military history are also numerous here, depicting 18th century Hungarian-Turkish frontier areas along the rivers Una, Sava and Danube. The other group of maps represent the latifundium of the Festetics family with its agricultural and forestry units totalling 100,000 hectares.
Most of the maps transferred from the Ethnographic Department of the Hungarian National Museum consist of fiefs of settlements in areas united with Austria and Czechoslovakia after the first world war. Among those from the State Printing House there are several administrative maps (e.g. of cadastral administration).
With the present volume activities of this kind have not been finished by the Map Department. Catalogues of other (e.g. cadastral) manuscript maps are also expected to be published in the future.
both chapters by
Dr. Klára PATAY
Curator of the Map Department
National Széchenyi Library