Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

FOUND: A Very Early and Very Rare Ottoman Atlas

The recently discovered copy of the Cedid Atlas (Photo: Nikolaj Blegvad / The National Library of Norway)

In 1803, when the Cedid Atlas Tercumesi was printed in Istanbul, the city was still the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the first printed Ottoman atlases—earlier maps were usually hand-drawn—and only 50 copies were printed.

One of those copies was sitting in the National Library of Norway for 60 years, unbeknownst to modern curators, the Washington Post reports.

But late last year, a reference librarian came across the library’s copy. He didn’t know exactly what he had found, but the book was interesting enough that he scanned some of its pages and posted them to Reddit. Not long after, another Redditor posted a scanned map from the Library of Congress’ copy of the same book, identified as the Cedid Atlas. The Norwegian library noticed the similarities between the two maps, and soon he and his boss were certain they had an original copy of the atlas. 

Previously, the locations of only 14 copies of the Cedid Atlas was known; this makes 15. The previous owner of the book was a textile importer from Oslo: he traveled to the Balkans in the 1930s, which is likely where he bought the book, and brought it back to his own country. 

Bonus finds: Skulls in a painting of John Deegiant earthworms.

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.