Dr. Richard A. Lobban, Jr. Map Collection

Welcome to the online home of the Dr. Richard A. Lobban, Jr. Map Collection.  Currently the site includes only a small portion of the total collection.  The fourteen maps currently found here are also on display at Plymouth State University in the Lamson Library and Learning Commons. 

The exhibit, Mapping European Consciousness of Africa:  A Survey of the Cartography of Africa from 1535 to 1897, runs from February 1 – March 31, 2013.   Dr. Lobban will speaking about the exhibit and the larger collection at Lamson Library and Learning Commons on March 5, 2013 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm.  Light refreshments will be served.  All are welcome to attend this free event.  

Maps are a window into the consciousness of the age, and demonstrate the prevailing wisdom, ranging from accuracy to  fantasy.  Arranged chronologically, these fourteen maps from the collection of Dr. Richard A. Lobban, Jr. explore the myths and realities surrounding the “Dark Continent” as manifest in maps. The maps follow the discoveries over the centuries that erased our ignorance and replaced fictional depictions of Africa with accurate information.

Many topics can be explored through these maps: history, culture, technology and exploration. Themes to look for in this exhibit include:

The evolution of the ways in which Africa is described. Africa was described from the outside looking in by Europeans who were mostly interested in maritime navigation and coastal trade. Africans met Europeans on the coast as trading partners until the rise of colonialism in the late 1800s. Notice the changes in nomenclature from the pre-colonial to the colonial period.

Improvements and standardization of mapping conventions. Today we take for granted that maps will include scale information and that longitude will be measured from Greenwich, England, but this was not always the case. The exhibit traces the changing reference points in longitude and latitude and the various ways in which scales were expressed (if at all).

Development of different printing methods. As the history of book printing evolved from Gutenberg, map making followed the same path, from woodcuts to copper plates to lithography. Most of the exhibit’s maps are made from copper engravings and include hand-painted watercolors.