The Dixson map collection
DL Pe 276
Sir William Dixson was born in 1870. He began collecting books and manuscripts in the 1890s and focussed on Australiana, although his collection also includes many rare and valuable European works. Dixson’s collecting soon widened to include many formats - not only books and manuscripts but pictures, coins, medals, curios, relics, postage stamps, bookplates and maps.
In 1919 Dixson offered a collection of pictures to the Library on the condition that a suitable gallery was built to accommodate them. The Dixson Wing of the Library building was opened in 1929. Following his death in 1952, his entire collection including books, maps, coins and stamps, was transferred to form the Dixson Library. The Library's magnificent Chaucer windows, bronze entrance doors and Shakespeare Library chandelier were also donated by Dixson.
The fantastic map collection which made up part of the 1952 bequest reflects Dixson’s interest in early navigation, geography and the European exploration and settlement of the Pacific, in particular Australia. The collection includes examples from the 16th through to the 20th century including hand coloured maps by Dutch mapmakers, Ortelius, Blaeu, de Wit, and Jansson. Many of the maps are rare manuscript copies by inland explorers including Sir Thomas Mitchell, Ludwig Leichhardt and Augustus Gregory.
With thanks to the collaborative support of our many generous benefactors, we have been able to scan over 1 000 rare and beautiful maps from the collection.