Gothenburg University Library receives 300-year-old sea atlas in unique donation

21 September 2023

Gothenburg University Library, together with the National Library of Sweden and Lund University Libraries, has received a unique donation of sea atlases from the period 1695-1850. The oldest item in the collection is Peter Gedda's sea atlas from 1695 and it has been given to the Gothenburg University Library. The atlases are a welcome addition to the University Library's maritime collections, which were strengthened earlier this year by a large donation of literature on the subject of lighthouses.

Image from Peter Gedda's sea atlas from 1695

The donation of sea atlases is from Björn Carlson's map collection and covers 300 years of cartological works by Swedish, Russian and French authors, depicting the Baltic Sea in various ways. Björn Carlson had a keen interest in both sailing and history, which sparked his desire to collect nautical charts and sea atlases of the Baltic Sea. In 2005, he founded the Björn Carlsons Östersjöstiftelse (Baltic Sea 2020).

Following Björn Carlson's death in 2021, the family decided to donate the nine sea atlases to libraries to make the material available for research on the Baltic Sea. Gothenburg University Library has received three valuable items from the collection.

– The donation is particularly appreciated as it fits well with one of the University's profile areas of interdisciplinary marine research. We received a very large donation earlier this year in the form of Esbjörn Hillberg's library (on the subject of pharology, the study of lighthouses), so we have had the privilege of significantly enriching our collections in the maritime field, says Anders Strinnholm, Cultural Heritage Coordinator at Gothenburg University Library.

Collection of lighthouses

The lighthouse collection was created by Esbjörn Hillberg, founder and long-time chairman of the Swedish Lighthouse Society. The material is approximately 40 shelf metres and is one of the world's most comprehensive on the subject. The collection contains literature on all aspects of lighthouses, such as technology, operation and staffing, as well as documentation on the life of a lighthouse keeper and fiction on the subject. The collection consists of both Swedish and international literature from the 17th century to the present. The material is currently being catalogued to make it searchable via the national library catalogue Libris. The collection is located at the Biomedical Library at Medicinaregatan 4 under the name Esbjörn Hillberg's library.

[Find more special collections on the University Library's website ] ](