Wednesday, December 14, 2011

300 Years of the Biblioteca Nacional

I´m in Madrid right now and I went to a new exhibit today that commemorates the 300th anniversary of the National Library. The building in which it is currently located was built for it in the 19th century, and it had been located in a couple of other places in the preceding century or so.

They have brought out wonderful things for the exhibit, and you can see original documents – not facsimiles – from the earliest times of the book  - or even written document – in Spain.  You can see parchments, books, maps, photos, and even hear early sound recordings.

I lucked out, however, because I saw something completely different downstairs in their permanent exhibit. They had moved something from that exhibit upstairs to the special exhibit and replaced it with this:


What is it? Part of a set of measuring and mapping tools made for the Spanish king Carlos II when he was 14 years old in the late 17th century.  I was delighted, because I am going to be giving a talk on early maps of St Augustine and I wanted to show people the tools used in creating them. So here they are.

However, this set was a multi-purpose tool.  It was designed by a Jesuit in Toledo, and even included a way the user could use the device to tune instruments.