Lehigh Libraries Special Collections announces a new fall exhibit featuring historic maps and atlases celebrating the gift of a number of rare books bequeathed to the Libraries by a Lehigh alumnus Duncan Payne. The exhibit will include unique hand-colored maps in Linderman Library and reproductions of 30 city views from Braun’s atlases displayed in Fairchild-Martindale Library (6th floor south).

The exhibit and the programs attached to it throughout the semester will be aimed to increase awareness of who we are and where we are headed, both in spirit and in the spaces we possess. Visitors will enjoy remarkable maps which tell a story and provide a visual representation of understanding of geography and cartography over time. Much as the atlases included have enabled armchair travelers and adventurers to discover the world for centuries, the journey doesn’t stop there. Included in “Where Do We Go from Here?” in the Linderman Cafe Gallery are examples of faculty teaching with several of these texts and others in Special Collections. It is our hope that these atlases will continue to inspire travel, exploration, and discovery.

In 2013 on the occasion of his 50th Lehigh reunion, Duncan Payne visited the Lehigh Libraries Special Collections with the intent of discussing a gift of atlases from his premier collection. During the course of a meeting with Special Collections librarians, Mr. Payne marveled at the richness of Lehigh’s collection, including a 15th century portolan chart. He mused aloud about how examples from his vast personal collection might supplement the maps and atlases preserved by Lehigh for over a century. In the weeks following his campus visit, Mr. Payne shared an inventory of his vast collection of maps, atlases, and supporting texts, giving the curator the opportunity to weigh the importance of each text and determine which might best complement Lehigh’s collection of historical atlases.  

Duncan Payne designated a number of rare books, including atlases and travelogs containing maps, that his family ensured came to Lehigh’s Special Collections for preservation and access. Among the atlases and Americana included in this exhibit are those donated by Duncan Payne, including a 1587 French translation of Ortelius’s Theatrum orbis terrarum that complements the English and Latin editions of the same title acquired by Lehigh in the 19th century. Mr. Payne’s bequest also included the four volumes of Braun’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum displayed in the Linderman Library Grand Reading Room and reproduced for display in EWFM Library.

Read more about the exhibit on Lehigh News.

The exhibit will be on display in Lehigh’s Linderman and Fairchild-Martindale Libraries through December 20, 2023 during regular building hours and online. For more information please contact Special Collections.