The famous Klencke Atlas reigned supreme as the world’s largest atlas for 352 years until 2012 when the publication of the 6ft by 9ft tall Earth Platinum atlas took over the title. Published in 1660, the Klencke Atlas is 5′ 9″ by 6′ 3″ when opened. Diarist John Evelyn, upon seeing the book in 1660, described it as ‘a vast book of mapps in a volume of neare four yards large’. Johannes Klencke gifted the large book to Charles II as a way of gaining favor for a consortium of Dutch sugar merchants. The book contains 41 detailed maps of the British Isles, the Netherlands, Italy, France, China, the Middle East, the East Indies, and Greece. These copperplate maps were intended to be hung on walls although the atlas was given a place of honor in Charles’s cabinet.
The Klencke Atlas is now in the possession of the British Library which made digitized versions of it available online in 2017. Digitizing such a large book required a coordinated effort, something captured extensively by the British Library. You can view a time-lapse of the entire process thanks to this video produced by the British Library:
- The Klencke Atlas, British Library