Author Archives: stuart

Casablanca

Casablanca is one of those names which is more than a location; how many of us think of the movie before the place? The film features the best use of a map (a globe really) in an opening sequence

With France under Marshal Petain agreeing a neutrality which favoured the Germans after French defeat in the Second World War Casablanca became one of the key points in safe passage of people escaping Fascist rule from Europe. From Casablanca boats and planes would go onto to Lisbon and from there across the Atlantic to America (as explained in the opening sequence). This map of Casablanca is contemporary with the film

Mil.-Geo.-plan von Casablanca, 1941. E23:20 Casablanca (12)

Published by the cartographic department of the German Army (Generalstab des Heeres), this is typical of German town plans from the war. Based on a French map published in 1935 the map has been enhanced by the highlighting of key administrative and military positions in the town. It was common for German military cartographers to make maps of countries and locations which were either neutral, as in this case, or actual allies of the Germans during the war.

Here is another version of the  French map from 1935 the German plan is based on, this time published by the War Office in, like the German plan, 1941 (Plan de Casablanca, 1941. E23:20 Casablanca (14)).

These maps by both Allied and Axis forces shows the importance of Morocco generally and Casablanca in particular in the North African Theatre of War. Comparing the two maps it is evident how much more information the German maps included, as is the case with most of the mapping that the Germans produced throughout the war. By using existing guide books, maps and postcards and gathering information from spies, Embassy staff and the general public the German military were able to map important locations to a level that up until the plans for the D-Day landings Allied forces often weren’t able or attempting to match (a blog on D-Day mapping can be found here)

 

Danger hills

The advent of motoring as a popular pastime allowed publishers to add a new angle to their map sales, the map specially designed for the Motorist. This cover from an early example (Bacon’s new half-inch maps for cyclists and motorists, circa 1908) shows a view of a new open-topped car with it’s wealthy owners out for a nice jaunt on well-lit streets, accompanied by that other new phenomenon (and additional new source of revenue), the cyclist. But included in this idealised view is a warning, for the map shows ‘Danger hills’.

The first cars started to appear on British roads in the mid 1890s, a mixture of imports from France and Germany and home-made efforts, with maps specifically aimed at motorists appearing soon after. These were often reprints of earlier maps with additional titles and, in many cases, some new information relevant to this new form of transport. In the case of the Bacon map this was the highlighting of dangerous and steep hills, with arrows indicating different degrees of steepness. This extract from the map shows the Marlborough Downs, with the fluted arrows indicating a steep hill and the non-fluted indicating hills to be approached with caution.

The danger seems to have been just as likely to be having a car with enough horse power to ascend such hills as to the danger of any physical harm involved. Luckily the car on the cover looks like, according to ‘Cars and how to drive them, Part 1‘ (1903, 384415 d.11), the French model De Dion-Bouton. According to the well-whiskered Mr. Roger H. Fuller, author of the chapter on the De Dion, the car is not only one of the most popular of the ‘modern light car’, with over a 1,000 now in Britain but, with 8 horse power ‘is speedy, its hill-climbing powers are hard to beat, and it is preferred by many who can afford a more costly car’.

In contrast to the Bacon map is the Ordnance Survey equivalent at the same scale (both maps are 2 inches to a mile, 1:126,720). This map offers no extra thrills, the cover is plain with title and diagram showing neighbouring sheets only, nothing to tempt the motorist into thinking this is something aimed at them.  This extract shows the same area, and while there are no indicators of anything dangerous the cartography on show is both more aesthetically pleasing and better laid out than the Bacon version, even if that is ‘Reduced by permission of the New Ordnance Survey’. This is evident in the way that both maps show relief. Both use contours and spot heights but the use of shading on the Ordnance Survey gives an immediate and pleasing sense of terrain.

Due to the expense involved driving was both for the rich and a leisure activity (in 1903 the De Dion cost £325, well over two years wages for a skilled tradesman). At the time of the map a speed limit at 20 m.p.h meant any long journeys would have been more practical by train. These maps show how, for a pootle in the country, it really was an open road, just be careful of those hills.

Юні друзі!

Young friends! This illustrated atlas of the Kiev region of Ukraine is a wonderful mix of both thematic and topographic maps and guides for young cartographers and naturalists. As the translated introduction says ‘This atlas is for those of you who are interested in geography and history, love nature. Explore your homeland in local history hikes and excursions’. The front cover has one of our young outdoor explorers striding out, his rucksack the outline of the Kiev Oblast.

Each double spread has a map or maps on the left with an illustration on the right of children doing something linked. So for instance where there is a thematic map on fauna, including diagrams for different bird boxes and animal prints, opposite is a picture of our naturalist heroes bird-spotting (Практичні поради юним біологам, or ‘Practical advice for young biologists).

There are pages on weather and climate, flora and minerals, along with topographic maps and town plans. The atlas is published by the Main Department of Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 1997.

The atlas also includes illustrations and text on surveying techniques and, shown here, orienteering. Text above the star chart in the top corner shows how you can find north by looking for the Big and Little Dipper in the sky, while notes on the ground explain how studying the landscape can help find direction (мох укривае піеічний біх дерее і каміння, or ‘moss covers the north sides of trees’, for example). And then, finally, the healthy benefits of being a ‘young tourist’. 

Atlas yunoho turysta-krayeznavtsya, Kyyivsʹkoyi oblasti, 1997. C410 c. 3

Triangulation, rare maps and an annoyed King…

Once fought over by the English with claims to territory dating back to the conquest France has seen revolution and invasion as well as the courts of Kings and, for a short time, Popes, and throughout this time maps have played a key role in the development and history of this strategically important country. This is an early and rare printed map, dating from 1592 and the copy held in the Bodleian is one of two thought to exist of the first printing of ‘Gallia’, by the Dutch cartographer Cornelis Claesz. The map has come from a copper plate engraving, which allowed for finer detail and greater artistic reproduction than earlier wood-cut maps and was engraved by Baptista van Doetecum following an initial drawing by the Flemish geographer Petrus Plancius.

Gallia, 1592. (E) C21 (182)

Despite the text under the main title stating that the map is ‘…is a complete description in French, amended in many places, and distinctly within the limits of the regions’ the area shown covers a region of Western Europe whose border and name dates back to the Roman Empire. The map features a number of compass roses with rhumb lines which would have been used in sailing, though considering how little sea is featured on the map the use of the lines to navigate would have been secondary to sailing close to the coast to complete the journey.

The coastline of France was to change dramatically with a map produced in the 1680s following the discovery and then implementation of the use of triangulation to measure distances. Triangulation works by taking a fixed and measured line and then from the ends of the line fixing on a point in the distance. By measuring the degree of the angle made by the fixed line and the point you can measure the distance to the point, and then can use one of the existing points and the newly measured point to create a further triangle, and so on. This revolutionized the way distances could be accurately recorded and changed the way that countries looked on maps, not always to the satisfaction of those in power. This map is an English copy of one first produced in France in 1684 by members of the newly established Académie des Sciences, the first time a country was mapped using triangulation. Over an outline of how the country had been previously mapped

lay a new, and noticeably, smaller France. The King was shocked, suddenly his kingdom had shrunk, and he complained that this new map had cost him more territory than an invading army. The cartouche rubs salt into the wounds, claiming that this was  ‘A new map of France, showing…the errors of Sanson’s map compared to the survey made by the order of the late French King*‘ (this map by John Senex was published in 1719, Louis XIV had died four years earlier). Two maps for the price of one, here’s an extract of the map covering Brittany showing the pre and post triangulation coastline. Compare the width of France in the first map to the newly calculated width in the post-triangulation map above.

As is typical of maps of the time the cartouche is rich in allegory, Mercury, winged messenger and god of trade, communication and travel, is often depicted, as is Ceres, goddess of agriculture and abundance. Ceres represents both Summer and, due to her control over the

life cycle within nature, also the course the soul takes through life. Putti surround the two figures, winged spirits who are often shown working at something, in this case appropriately  enough surveying and map-making..

A new map of France shewing the roads and post stages thro-out that Kingdom…, 1719. (E) C21 (119)

With thanks to Katherine Parker of BLR Antique Maps for help with information on the Gallia map.

* Nicolas Sanson was the Royal Geographer to the French Kings, active in mapping France during the mid to late 1600s.

 

It’s all about perspective

The question of how to show relief on maps has taxed cartographers since the days of Ptolemy. A string of mountains over a landscape, deep shadows, contours, hachures? All have been used to varying degrees of success in the past. Tourist maps and town plans have often used different perspectives in the same image to portray hills and buildings. This dual approach, where there is a need to show both the street layout from a bird’s-eye perspective and prominent buildings from an angle, is an excellent way to make the map look more dramatic while at the same time fulfilling the basic function, that of telling you where things are. This works because the eye isn’t confused by the two different approaches to a view and you can appreciate the ‘artistic licence’ involved to create a pleasing whole. Examples here with this map of Durham from 1754  (Plan of the Parish of Durham, by T Forster, 1754. (E) C17:70 Durham (1) )

and this beautiful panoramic map of Liverpool from 1847, complete with sailing ships at dock. (Panoramic view of Liverpool, c1847. (E) C17:70 Liverpool (16) ). Panoramas are designed to be looked at at an oblique angle, but they still need to include the information that a ‘normal’ map such as street layout and names include. Both maps also give a nice sense of the hills and landscape surrounding the towns.

Freed from Western rules and conceptions about how to represent perspective this beautiful Japanese map of the port city of Yokohama from 1859 shows the city as it would be viewed on the ground. Different features in the city are viewed from their best vantage point, leading to straight-on, upside-down and sideways views. The distinctive look to this map is partly due to the fact that the cartographer was an established artist.  Based in Yokohama Ichigyokusai was famous for a series of woodcuts representing the months of the year, and he brings this style of art to his map.

Detailed pictorial map of the port of Kanagawa…6th year of the Ansei period (1859).  (E) D20:70 Yokohama (3)*

Yokohama seems to have been a popular place to map, due to its importance as a port city near to Tokyo. It was also one of the first Japanese ports to open up to Western traders. This change from a seclusionist policy to one of open trading after a fleet of American warships sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1853 led to Yokohama changing from a small fishing village to a major port in 1859. To show this change in the role of both the port and Japanese relations with the outside world the cartographer of the next map includes foreign sailing ships in the harbour (flags show ships from France, Russia, the United States and the English Merchant Navy as well as  Japan).

[A map of Yokohama. Bird’s eye view of the town…by Gyokuransai Hashimoto]. 1859. J Maps 3

This second map of Yokohama is a more traditional ‘bird’s eye view’ and unlike the earlier map sticks to one perspective, that of a view from the east. This style of mapping gives a more realistic sense of the hilly landscape surrounding the port city. Mount Fuji is at top right, (the map is long, and has been digitally stitched together).

Switzerland has a well-deserved reputation for good maps, and befitting a land of mountains and valleys the way that Swiss maps portray relief is particularly vivid and life-like.  This map of Ticino, the southernmost Canton of Switzerland, is an excellent example of how two different perspectives can be used to show off such dramatic land.

Ticino Suisse meridionale [bird’s-eye view]. 1945. C39:7 (2)

This truly is a ‘bird’s-eye view’, at the bottom of the map we are directly over the  city of Locarno but as we look northwards the mountains of the Alps appear in profile, as they would in real life. When relief is portrayed in such a realistic fashion it brings to life such dramatic landscape.

*Kanagawa is one of the 47 prefectures in Japan, a level of administrative division just below National Government. Yokohama is the main city of Kanagawa Prefecture.

With thanks to Alessandro Bianchi, Bodleian Japanese Librarian, for help with the Yokohama maps.

As if we were never there

The different levels of mapping produced by the Ordnance Survey is astonishing. The Landranger and Explorer maps we buy in the shops are the tip of an iceberg that currently includes maps on Roman, Prehistoric and Civil War Britain, maps designed for children as well as a complete online digital service,  while in the past the OS has published military, geological and administrative mapping as well as commercial maps for travellers and tourists. Amongst all these variations of themes and scales there is one set of maps that are contrary to what we imagine the purpose of map is. We expect a map to show the means to plan a journey, or a holiday or walk. In the 1930s a series of maps appeared that defied these expectations, maps that showed a land devoid of any human interference. Free of buildings, towns, cities and any transport infrastructure these maps show a landscape not seen for thousands of years.

22 sheets of the 5th (relief) edition map of England and Wales were published between 1931 and 1936, and were available not only in a range of themes; coloured, physical features only, black outline and special district sheets, but also in a range of formats; paper flat, paper folded and mounted on linen. This sheet, number 146, was priced at 2 shillings and covers the Penwith Peninsula at the tip of Cornwall, a land of ancient field boundaries, roads that hug the coast and signs of early industry. It is also a land rich in prehistoric remains, though there is no indication of any of this on the map, instead you have physical features alone, contours, rivers, coastline and shading to give an idea of hills and valleys. It is a beautiful example of cartographic art. Here’s the normal edition for comparison, both maps date from 1934.

And then side-by-side extracts covering St. Ives Bay (click on maps to zoom in).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As expected the 5th edition is the fifth edition of a series of 1 inch to a mile maps first published in 1801. Weaving around these previous editions are a number of revisions, large and small sheet versions and, as mentioned already in this blog, variations on each to include outline, coloured or not and physical features mapping.  When all of these are taken into consideration there as many as nine previous editions, depending on how you count all published versions (and you could make an argument for more if you include military and geological maps as well). The covers were also beginning to be part of the whole package, with trained artists employed to capture the post-war spirit of the outdoors as a leisure activity, be it cycling or walking. With the 5th edition each cover had a similar design, with sheet number and name and a small portrait of a hiker. Soon covers would become more individual, reflecting the area mapped, and were miniature works of art in themselves (more on OS cover art can be found here) 

Fifth (Relief) Edition England & Wales, sheet 146  1934. C17 (30c) and C17 (30b).

Before and after

Is there a more famous event in the history of London than the fire which started on the 2nd of September 1666? We call this the Great Fire to separate it from numerous conflagrations that had beset the city both before and after. One unexpected outcome of the disaster was the amount of mapping produced in the immediate aftermath, mainly to support the number of different proposals for redevelopment. One of quickest to print was this map, made a mere fortnight after the end of the fire by Valentine Knight.

Several proportions and scheems were offer’d to rebuild the City of London after the great fire. This one was proposed by Val. Knight, 1666. (E) C17:70 London (485)

This hastily made map isn’t the important part of Knight’s proposals, that comes in the accompanying text which sets out his ideas for redevelopment. The map does give an immediate view of the damage caused by the fire though, almost all buildings in the City destroyed, including over 13,000 houses, close to 90 Parish Churches and then some of the major buildings within the City, including St Paul’s. Of his proposals number 9 suggested a way that the rebuilding could be paid for, setting out a scheme of rent and deposits that could be charged on the grander houses. In part of the proposal Knight writes ‘…with all the fines [fees] shall be paid to the King, his heirs and successors, towards the maintenance of his forces by land and sea…’. The idea that the King could profit from the fire so incensed Charles II that Knight was temporally imprisoned.

This neater map was made in the year of the fire by the diarist and contemporary of Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn. Evelyn’s plan allows for a neater layout of the City but was rejected as being too expensive and cumbersome with the large number of different land holders involved, as was Knight’s.

What with the destruction to life and property the fire made any earlier maps outdated, such as this wonderful panorama of the city (stitched together digitally from the three sheets that make up the set for this blog) which was printed earlier in the year of the fire by Wenceslaus Hollar

 

The Prospect of London and Westminster taken from Lambeth. Version I, the original state, 1666, C17:70 London (1365)

The view of the City, from Lambeth Palace from the south bank, shows a host of church spires, with in the middle of them all St Paul’s. All were destroyed so Hollar had to make a new map showing the post-fire cityscape. Here’s the original sheet covering the City

and here’s the revised sheet with the new St Paul’s and Parish Churches.

This image of the new design for the dome of St Paul’s is part of a small set of maps made by Sir Christopher Wren for the rebuilding of the Cathedral.

Old St Paul’s; a section showing the choir with Wren’s suggestion for a dome over the crossing and a new nave. [Together with] Ground plan, 1666. (E) C17:70 London (498).

Hollar produced many maps of the city, including one showing the area destroyed in the flames. An inset shows the fire at its height

When one name leads to another

Most of the blogs here are fairly easy to write. You have the map, you have enough knowledge to write about the map, and if not books in the library will help. Occasionally you start looking into something where one clue leads to another, where one name stands out or where something doesn’t seem right.

This seemingly innocent small atlas , with three maps from the U.S. Geological Survey at 1:125,000, looks at first glance to be a simple presentation to friends.

But the dedicator, Albrecht Penck, is a familiar name. Penck was a German geographer and geologist who was the instigator of the acclaimed mapping series the International Map of the World. At the 5th International Geographical Congress in Berne in 1891 Penck proposed that there should be a standard map coverage of scale and design covering the World, and after further discussion in following congress meetings a design and a way of producing the maps was agreed on at the London Congress in 1909. More on the IMW series of maps can be found here

As for why Penck was sending out best wishes from the Townshend Ranch, that is more of a conundrum. He travelled to the United States a number of times but there seems to be no biographical information about a trip to Colorado. The story takes another twist when you look into the Townshend Ranch, which annoyingly doesn’t actually appear on any of the three maps in the atlas, something not helped by the fact that the ranch was by Black Squirrel Creek, and there are a number of different creeks in El Paso County with this name (the extract on the right is just one of two Black Squirrel Creeks on the three sheets in the atlas, Big Springs Sheet, Colorado, 1:125,000 1900). Born in England in 1846 Richard Baxter Townshend emigrated to the United States in 1869, moving around the south west before building a ranch alongside the creek. Townshend returned to England after making money in the States, married and eventually got a tutor’s position in Wadham College, across the road from the Bodleian here in Oxford. He wrote about his adventures in ‘Tenderfoot in Colorado’, first published in 1923.

The maps are published by the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.). The rather bland description ‘U.S. Geological Survey, J.W. Powell, Director’ doesn’t do justice to a remarkable man. Born in New York to English parents Powell had explored most of the major rivers of the Eastern United States before signing on as a cartographer and engineer with the Union army in 1861. During the Battle of Shiloh the following year his right arm was blown off, making his subsequent achievement of being the first man to sail down the Colorado and Green Rivers, passing through the Grand Canyon on the way, even more remarkable.

Townshend’s story didn’t end there though, as his name continues to ring out every time the ‘Enigma Variations’ is played. Townshend was a close friend of Edward Elgar, who dedicated the third of the Variations to ‘R.B.T.’

 

 

The first of these next two images comes from ‘My friends pictured within‘ by Edward Elgar, (17402 d.799) which shows the people Elgar dedicated the different variations to. The second image is the start of the score to variations No. 3, dedicated to R.B.T. This is from the first published copy of the score from 1898 (Mus 221 c.40)*.

The Townshend Ranch, El Paso County, Colorado U.S.A.’ 1908 F6:14 b.1

  • Thanks to colleagues from our excellent Music Department here at the Bodleian

дорожное путешествие!

This beautiful map, published in 1965, shows that it’s not just the U.S. that does lovely road maps. Over three strips in a small atlas the road from Moscow to Simferopol via Kursk and Kharkiv (in Russian Kharkov) is shown in pictorial form.

It is the perfect map for a road trip. Starting at Moscow, with the white Grand Kremlin Palace visible behind the trees, going south following what is now the E105, part of the International E-Road network which starts in the north of Norway and finishes at Yalta, the map (and road) finishes in Simferopol, capital of what was at the time of the map the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Next to the map is text giving tourist information along the way. Throughout the map and amongst the text are small pictures of life on the road, camping

or, just in case you were having too much fun and needed a reminder of Soviet achievement, tanks on a War memorial

The map is part of a series, the Bodleian also has a version going from Moscow to the Trans-Carparthian region of Ukraine. This follows the same design as our featured map (including the lovely picture of the crane shown here) but does include a warning to the perils of the road.

As the introduction says, ‘Traveling by car from Moscow to Simferopol enjoys well-deserved popularity. The route of travel passes along a well-equipped highway, suitable for traffic at any time of the year’. Time for a holiday, mid-60s Soviet style.

If you fancied something a bit more sedate here’s a page from a travel guide to the Oka River, which flows south of Moscow.  All three maps are published by the Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography of the State Geological Committee of the USSR.

More on U.S. road maps here

Moskva Khar’kov Simferopol‘. 1965, Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.3

Moskva – Kiyev – Zakarpat’ye, 1964 Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.4

По Оке (On the Oka), 1964. Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.5

A map of the most beautiful place in the World (perhaps)

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Don’t just take my word for it, take Peter Crosthwaite’s. This map, created by Crosthwaite, is titled ‘An acurate map of the matchless lake of Derwent (situate in the most delightful Vale which perhaps ever human eye beheld) near Keswick, Cumberland…’  Considering that Crosthwaite alludes to himself as ‘Admiral to the Keswick Regatta, Keeper of the museum at Keswick, guide, geographer and hydrographer to the nobility and gentry who make the tour of the Lakes’ he obviously wasn’t one for modesty.

The map itself doesn’t quite match the beauty of the location but it does include a lot of useful information; spot depths in the lake and travel and tourist information. As with most maps of the time Gentlemen in the area are named and the major houses in the area are portrayed. Crosthwaithe made maps of other lakes, including Windermere (shown here) and Coniston. While neither have such flowery titles both have poems extolling the landscape shown.

All the maps feature ‘West’s stations’, viewpoints mentioned in one of the earliest guides written about the area, Thomas West’s ‘A guide to the Lakes: : dedicated to the lovers of landscape studies, and to all who have visited, or intend to visit the lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire’. West and Crosthwaite were promoting the Lake District at a time when tourism to the area began to grow.

Many cartographers make bold claims with their maps, with titles including such phrases as ‘an exact survey’, ‘new and improved’ and ‘drawn from the best authorities’. These maps flip that convention around by putting the praise back where it belongs, the countryside.

An accurate map of the matchless Lake of Derwent (situate in the most delightful vale which perhaps ever human eye beheld) near Keswick, Cumberland; with West’s seven stations 1784. (E) C17:22 (9)