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Photo courtesy of the British Library

The mother of all atlases!

FOR US GEOGRAPHY nuts, the world’s largest book – the Klencke Atlas – in the possession of the British Library will be unveiled to the public for the first time in over 350 years this summer.

Yes, the book is three and a half centuries old.

The Atlas contains 37 encyclopedic maps which provide summary views of the world at the time of its inception.

Here are just a few stats on this stupendous book.

  • It takes six people to carry it
  • It is 5ft tall
  • It is 6ft wide
  • As previously mentioned, it is 350 years old

Given as a gift to the king by Dutch merchants and preserved in the king’s cabinet of curiosities for centuries, its pages have never been publicly opened until now.

The grand exhibit featuring the Atlas is called Magnificent maps: Power, Propaganda and Art, and will be on display at the British Library in London from April 30th to September 19th, 2010

And the smallest map in the world?

A bird’s eye view of Nuremberg etched on a fingernail-sized 1773 German coin which will also be on display as part of the exhibition.

Book Reviews


About The Author

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is a MatadorU faculty member and Network contributor. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Vogue, BBC,, and many more. Follow her photoblog at

  • Michelle Schusterman

    Holy cow! That’s awesome!

  • Aaron

    Reminds me of that Borges story with the cartographers in China(?) making a map which spanned the entire country. Is it really only five feet tall? Those people don’t look that short.

  • neha


  • Matt

    I love reading but books take up so much room when you’re traveling. Guess I should concider myslef lucky this isn’t in my bag.

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