The National Library of Australia has placed on display a rare seventeenth century map of Australia,
which was thought to have been lost.
The unique map, one of just two left, was created by renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1659, who drew a map of the region of Australia, known at the time as Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago).
Library officials stated the map is based on a sighting of Tasmania by Abel Tasman’s crew aboard the Zeehaen in 1642.
Despite its high value, it is believed that the map had actually been buried away in the 1950s when an antique bookseller who owned a stockpile of books and maps went out of business. When it was discovered again in 2010, the owners were not aware of the map’s rarity until it went for sale at an auction.
“I think someone stumbled onto a treasure,” the library’s curator of maps, Dr Martin Woods, told news.com.au.
After being rediscovered in 2010, the map was acquired by the National Library of Australia in 2013 for an estimated price of AUS$600,000. After a few years of restoration, the map is now being put on display for the first time in the library’s Treasures Gallery until mid-2018.
According to the library, the map is the most current reflection of Australia at the time of its creation before the template was changed when Captain Cook explored the eastern coast in 1770. Like most maps at the time, it is likely to have been originally used as a decorative piece or a diplomatic gift.