Author Archives: stuart

The things you find in boxes

This blog post deals with the strange and wonderful things that sometimes appear in unexpected places. It’s something that happens often, making the job all the more rewarding for it. While having a tidy up in the map storage area we found an old rectangular box. Inside were 3 rolled maps; one from just after World War I by the Geographical Section of the War Office, the other two from 1857 published by the wonderfully named ‘National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principals of the established Church’. Underneath these three objects was this single sheet of paper.

The translation of the main text is ‘Insignia of Iraqi warplanes, equilateral green triangle with black border, red sign in the form of an 8, white square’. The page comes from a booklet made by the German Army, presumably about Iraq though it could equally be about Syria or the Middle East. Iraqi involvement in the Second World War was brief. The Golden Square, a group of army officers, staged a coup in 1941, deposing the ruling family. British concerns that oil supplies would be diverted to the Axis powers lead to a brief, and for the British successful, war in May 1941.

It is hard to identify where this sheet has come from. Throughout the war General Staff of the Germany Army prepared pamphlet packages on a large number of countries, including all European countries, most of the African countries north of the equator and those in the Middle East, but this sheet hasn’t come from one of these.

The pamphlets included maps, information booklets and books of photographs. The books were usually compiled by academics familiar with the country in question and there are pamphlets produced for neutral countries as well as allies such as Italy and Romania. The earliest pamphlets date from 1939 and were produced in strong red cases, by 1943 shortages of materials meant that weaker card cases were used.

Considering the single sheet deals with airplanes it’s appropriate that one of the maps in the Irak  collection deals with airfields.

Until we can find out where this sheet belongs we’ll put it in the ‘Irak’ pamphlet box, ‘Militärgeographische angaben über den Irak’, 1943. D19 e.1

The league of Nations

This large (84 x 53 cm) cloth-backed map of the World issued by the League of Nations

highlights the changes that took place after the First World War following mandates issued by the League. Below a general World map insets for Africa, Arabia and the Pacific Islands show colonial possessions once owned by the defeated nations redistributed amongst the victors.

A League of Nations Mandate is a legal transferring of a Country from one nation to another, this was set up in June 1919 following the Treaty of Versailles.  The map is full of evocative names of countries from former times; Persia, South West Africa, Tanganyika and the Gold Coast, and also includes tables showing the birth of the League as well as flags of member and non-member countries as well as pie charts comparing area and populations of member and non-member countries, presumably as a way of showing the benefits of belonging.

The mandated countries are split into three classes. Class A, the countries of the Middle East formerly in the Ottoman Empire, were countries considered ready for some level of independent control. Class B, which consisted of former German possessions in West and Central Africa which would still need to be in some level of control by a mandatory power, while

Class C, the rest of the German Possessions in Africa and those in the Pacific would need to be under full control of the mandatory power. Each transferred country has a box giving details of possession, surrender and mandate, as in Samoa here.

The League of Nations Map of the World, c1926 (C) B1 (1628)

 

A tale of two maps

The contrast between these two maps is striking, considering they are both the same.

The Bodleian has two copies of South America corrected from the observations comunicated to the Royal Society’s of London & Paris… by John Senex, and dating from 1710. The copy on the right is a single sheet which has been folded and then incorporated into an atlas of maps by Senex soon after printing. As can be seen from the image the colours are strong and there is no damage or staining on the sheet.

The copy on the left has just come into the library as part of a large donation of rolls. To protect rolled maps from damage they were often attached to a linen backing and then varnished, hence the frayed and stained appearance of the map. It is now hard to see too much detail on the map compared to its cleaner cousin.

This map has also had additional strips added to the sides and top, with the new title (at top of this blog) and then text on either side about the continent.

The map has a beautiful cartouche, which as well as giving title and printing details also gives

an idea of a European viewpoint of South America, with an Amazonian warrior, decapitated head and cannibal feasts in the background. The warrior is a common symbol of America and is always shown with a bow and arrow and a crocodile.  Just above is a  representation of a Penguin, with descriptive text stating ‘In this icy sea there are many animals which are half fish, half fowl. They have a neck like a swan which they often thrust above water for air, the rest is allways under water’. To the right of the penguin is the inscription ‘ Here Cap. Halley found the sea full of ice’.  In 1699 Edmund Halley, astronomer and mathematician,  sailed on the Paramore across the Atlantic to carry on experiments on mapping the magnetic currents and flows of the World as well as mapping the Southern Hemisphere constellations and stars. On his return to England in 1700 he published the first magnetic declination chart of the World and then in 1703 he was appointed Savilian Professor of geometry at Oxford University. The map, made by John Senex, is dedicated to Halley. Senex was a prolific publisher of maps and atlases and was at one time cartographer to Queen Anne. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1728 and when he died in 1740 his wife Mary continued his work.

The Atlantic has been overly blessed with places that either never existed or have changed names completely. Pepys Island is one of the more celebrated of the ‘phantom islands’ of the Atlantic. Pirates in 1684 sailed close to the Sebald de Weerts Islands and marked this in the ships journal. Later this was heavily rewritten and published by someone keen to gain the favour of the Secretary of the Navy, Samuel Pepys, and named a new island after Pepys despite the original journal stating the island was part of the de Weerts group.  Pepys Island went on to feature in numerous maps up until the mid-1800s.  The Sebald de Weerts islands are now known as the Jason Islands. Just as strange is the naming of the southern part of the Atlantic as the Ethiopic Ocean, a name which dates back to classical times when most of Africa south and west of Egypt was called Aethiopia.

South America corrected from the observations comunicated to the Royal Society’s of London & Paris… by John Senex, 1710. Allen 15a.

Home defence during World War I

It’s always interesting when you get added to the collection a fairly routine map which has been personalized in some way, as in the case here.

London Area is a one sheet in a series at 1:253,440 (1/4 inch to a mile) published by the Ordnance Survey in 1916. This sheet belong to Capt. C.L. Wauchope of 39 Squadron and he has marked all the landing grounds according to class and searchlights in the area around the capital.

39 Squadron was formed early in 1916 as a ‘Home Defence’ Squadron protecting London from enemy attack, in particular from the night-time raids by Zeppelins.  Two rings of landing grounds surrounded the city, one at 5 miles and one at 9 miles and some of these went on to play a prominent role in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War, most famously Biggin Hill.

Landing grounds were classified according to number of different approaches and ground conditions and these landing grounds were used mainly by pilots who had either lost their way or had engine problems, which suggests that Wauchope’s map may not be the only one doctored in this way. The manuscript legends are at both corners of the bottom of the map. Due to limited space in the cockpit of the aeroplanes the map could be folded in half and still have an obvious key, which was important as in an emergency the pilot would want to find as safe a grounding as possible. A first class landing ground would have landings possible from most directions and a smooth, unobstructed surface whereas third class had a limited approach and were usually only used as a last resort.

Despite the small amount of fatalities and damage caused by Zeppelin raids during the war the psychological harm caused by the airships was considerable, as can be seen from this title page of an issue of the War Budget, a weekly illustrated periodical about the War.

London Area, 1916. C17:40 (268)

 

The battle of the Medway 1667

This is a remarkable map of a remarkable event. Interleaved amongst Naval papers and letters to and from Samuel Pepys in a volume of manuscripts is a drawing by another noted diarist, John Evelyn, of one of the few examples of enemy action on British soil since 1066, the attack on the River Medway in 1667 by the Dutch.

The volume of papers is part of the Rawlinson collection. Antiquary Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) donated to the Bodleian over 5,000 manuscripts and nearly 1,800 books on such subjects as theology, literature and history.  Evelyn was a contemporary of Samuel Pepys and his diary, which he wrote for most of his life though not to the detail of Pepys’s shorter work, was first published in 1818. This map by Evelyn is included in the collection of Pepys manuscripts because of Pepys’s role in the Navy, first as an administrator and then, from 1673, as Secretary. The raid was part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, fought between the two nations from 1665 to 1667 to gain the upper hand in trade and World dominance. Between the 11th and the 13th of June Dutch ships sailed into the Medway, firing on Chatham and Sheerness and sinking a number of British ships.

This is an extract of the area around Rochester and Chatham                                                        Yard.  The dotted line between ships 2 and 3 and 7 and 8 is a heavy chain laid across the river to prevent the Dutch breaking through, a measure which failed, allowing the Dutch fleet to sail on and attack the British fleet at will. Ships 12 to 14; the Royal Oak, the Loyal London and the Royal James, were all burnt while the flagship, the HMS Royal Charles (10) was captured and towed back to the Netherlands.

The map is a sketch in pen and ink and there is a letter from Evelyn to Pepys with the map. Dated the 20th of June the letter starts ‘I am heartily ashamed I could not performe yr command before now. It was Friday ere I could possibly get home, and find I am here. I have been so afflicted with ye gripping of the guts that I was not able to bestow the pains intended on the scheme I send you…’A later map of the Essex coast, made in 1686 by Capt. Grenvil Collins, is dedicated to Pepys and features as part of the cartouche a small picture of a battle at sea (posted on this blog in January 2016).

 

Extract from Harwich, Woodbridg and Handfordwater with the sands from the Nazeland to Hoseley Bay…1686.   (E)C17:28 (46)

A few pages after this map is a letter Pepys wrote to the Earl of Sandwich when the Earl was Ambassador to Spain in 1667. Pepys often used code when writing his diary, and it is interesting to see that this skill was also important in his official role.

Lord Sandwich was a friend and supporter of Pepys. Sandwich died on board ship during a future War with the Dutch in 1672.

‘ A scheme of the posture of the Dutch Fleet and action at Sher-ness and Chatham, 10th 11th & 12th of June 1667, taken upon the place’. 1667. MS Rawlinson a 195a fol 78

That’s a relief

First day back at work (happy new year btw) made more enjoyable by cataloguing and adding to the collection a set of U.S. Army relief maps of the British Isles.

sheet NO 30-10 covering the Grampians and Ben Nevis

Produced by the Army Map Service of the United States in1956 the plastic sheets have been pressed onto a raised model thus creating a relief image. On the back of the sheet you get the image in reverse. Due to the cut-off for heights shown in relief there are a number of sheets covering the Central and Southern parts of England that have no raised relief at all. Here is the reverse of the Isle of Arran. Relief maps such as these are a joy to look at but troublesome to store, as they can’t take too much weight on them for obvious reasons. Given a normal shelf mark for maps of the British Isles this interesting series will be stored in a box to protect the sheets from being damaged. All together there are 38 sheets at a scale of 1:250,000.

When joined together (as well as possible due to the large marginalia, and with the top north-eastern part missing) Ireland looks like this

While when photographed in profile the coast and peninsulas of Cork looks like this

Britain’s highest peaks are all represented; Sca Fell Pike (978 metres/3,209 feet), Ben Nevis (1,345m/4,411ft), Snowdon (1,085 m/3,560ft) and Carrauntoohil (1,038 m/3,407ft)

while other famous hills and ranges also feature, such as the Cullin Hills of Skye

and the smaller but impressive due to their high position in a low-lying area, Malverns

British Isles, Series M5216P, 1956. C15 (68)

 

 

BCS Map Awards

The British Cartographic Society (http://www.cartography.org.uk/), the leading cartographic organization in the country, hold an annual award ceremony for that year’s best maps. These are a few of the recent entries, chosen because they are both outstanding examples of mapping but also because they each take a different approach to the traditional topographic map. They look good as well.

Jane Tomlinson, an Oxfordshire artist, has created a beautiful work of art in this map of North-West Europe on the theme of the life of Vincent van Gogh. Jane’s work regularly features maps, more can be seen here https://janetomlinson.com/medium/maps/

On the order page for copies of the painting Jane says ‘In this painting, I tell the story of the life and works of Vincent van Gogh through his paintings and words. As it’s a schematic map,  I have shown motifs from some of his best-loved paintings very roughly in the locations where they were made….the actual putting down of paint took only about 6 weekends. But I can honestly say that really it’s taken about 38 years of study’. The page ends with a lovely, and cartographically appropriate, quote ‘You can’t be at the pole and the equator at the same time. You must choose your own line, as I hope to do, and it will probably be colour” wrote Vincent to his brother Theo, April 1888′ (https://janetomlinson.com/artworks/life-and-works-of-vincent-van-gogh/)

Maps International, part of the Lovell Johns group (https://www.mapsinternational.co.uk/), are a cartographic firm close to the Bodleian’s heart, literally as they are based in a village just outside Oxford. They have created this wonderful map of the wines of Europe, with the unique selling point of being Scratch map, so you can scratch off wines you’ve tried, it even has a count bar at the bottom that you scratch off every time you try a new wine. We have in the Bodleian plenty of tactile maps, be they 3-D  relief models with hills, or braille maps and globes, but this is the first scratch map in the collection.

 

The last map comes from the University of Sheffield. This map of British islands 5km² or over takes familiar places out of their normal context and forces us to view them in a different way. Instead of being in their familiar locations just off shore the map makes us realise the different and complex geographical make-up of Great Britain. There are over 4,000 islands of over 0.2 hectares regardless of tide in Britain so these are just the tip of a very large iceberg, or maybe it would be more appropriate to say the cream of the archipelago.

The life and works of Vincent van Gogh, 2017. C1:3 (301)

European Wines 2018. C1 (1072)

Great Britain’s Islands… 2017. C16 (918)

Mr. Carrington’s pocket maps

These small maps, dating from 1864, are designed to fit in the pocket of a waistcoat or jacket. Usually maps of this type are travelling maps and often have timetables included, there are also examples for fox-hunting meets, so to have a World map done in this way is rare.

Showing the equatorial regions with the polar regions at the right the idea is that in folding over the right-hand section of each side you create a wide span of the world. It’s hard to see the use though after the novelty effect of the map has worn off as the scale is such that only the barest information such as relief and major rivers is shown.

The second map, of the constellations, works on the same principle.

As can be seen by the above image of the envelope (still going strong after 154 years) it is quite a flimsy package, and you wonder how long it would last with regular use. Compare it with a more typical example of the genre, with this fox-hunting pocket map with a hard cover,

much more suited for purpose ( Places of meetings of Lord Gifford’s hunt, 1843, C17:7 g.1).

Mr. Carringtons Pocket Maps, 1864. B1 (401)

Early maps of New Zealand

Two early maps of New Zealand, both from the 1840s, which use different names for the three islands. Polynesian settlement dates from around 900, with Abel Tasman being the first European to see the islands in 1642. The Dutch named the islands Nova Zeelandia after the province of Zeeland in 1645 which was then anglicised by Capt. James Cook in 1770.

This first map is by the cartographer John Arrowsmith in 1844. Map of the Colony of New Zealand from official documents by John Arrowsmith and shows how, just 4 years after the Treaty of Waitangi signed between the British and Maori recognizing British sovereignty over the islands the land was already being allocated to European settlement. The islands have unfamiliar names; New Ulster, Munster and Leinster suggesting a strong Irish settlement but in fact come from a new Constitution of Government sent from London in 1846 to replace an earlier unpopular one. The Islands were to be divided into two provinces, Ulster and Munster, with two Governors. Bizarrely the Islands weren’t intended to be split between North and South but on the line of the River Patea, in the North Island, with everywhere north of this to be New Ulster, everywhere south to be New Munster. There was no mention in the new constitution as to why these names were chosen. Arrowsmiths map of 1844 seems to be a reprint of an earlier map from 1841 with additional land ownership information. Arrowsmith  produced maps of New Zealand at this time for official Government reports, and it is likely that this map accompanied a select Committee report on New Zealand from 1844.

This second map, an extract from New Zealand and Oceanic Islands, dates from 1847 and uses Maori names for the two large islands.

The third map is a strange one for a number of reasons.

The map, Map showing New Zealand as it would be situated if placed in corresponding latitude of Northern Hemisphere, but with east (instead of west) longitude, for comparison with countries on the Mediterranean Sea dates from 1968 but places New Zealand over a pre-World War One map of Europe (note the existence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and pre-war Germany) but in trying to encourage emigration into the country by suggesting temperatures are similar to favourable European countries the text isn’t entirely honest. Auckland’s mean temperatures are compared to Rome despite being closer to Algiers and doesn’t include anywhere on the colder South island.

Finally an inset from the 1844 Arrowsmith map showing a World map with New Zealand in the middle.

 

Maps to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice

Maps and other items from the Bodleian to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

First a War map of the Western Front showing main lines of retreat and advance 1914-1918… (1919, C1:3 (121). The blue line running north is the front-line in August 1914, the broken red either side is the front-line at the signing of the Armistice four years later. Other lines show the front after key battles while the red shaded area is land to be occupied by Allied troops.

The front page from the Pall Mall Gazette, 11th November 1918. N.288 b.4

Throughout the War burial parties worked to deal with the dead, often burying in shallow graves with a simple cross. At the Armistice the Imperial War Graves Commission set out plans for uniform gravestones giving no distinction in class or rank and, controversially, not to repatriate any bodies. Rudyard Kipling provided text to go on the gravestones and in 1919 authored The Graves of the Fallen,

which gave an idealized view of the cemeteries with trees and plants, which was in contrast to the bomb-scarred landscape left over from 4 years of fighting.

Front cover and extract from The Graves of the Fallen, 1919. 247518 d.26

This next item comes from the Bodleian’s Music Department. Ernest Bristow Farrar (1885-1918) was a promising young composer and organist who was educated at Leeds Grammar School and studied with Charles Stanford at the Royal College of Music before settling in the North, firstly in South Shields, moving to Harrogate in 1912 . He completed his Heroic Elegy in May 1918 whilst training at Raglan Barracks, Devonport as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion Devonshire Regiment. The work bears the dedication ‘For Soliders’ and Farrar conducted its first performance whilst on leave in Harrogate on 3 July. He finally left for France on 6 September but, after only two days on duty at the front, was killed on 18 September leading his men at the Battle of Epéhy Ronssoy, just a few weeks before the Armistice brought hostilities to a close. The piece is a moving tribute to his fellow soldiers and incorporates bugle calls and strains of the 15th-Century Agincourt Song into the music. This is an extract from the manuscript of the work held in the Bodleian. Farrar is buried In Ronssoy Communal cemetery (grave B.27) about 15km north-west of Saint-Quentin.

Heroic Elegy, Ernest Farrar. Ms. Mus. C434 fol. 1r. 1918 *

Finally maps to show War Graves around the Ypres area. The red crosses mark a Commonwealth Cemetery.

with extracts, first of the area around Zonnebeke. Just off the map at no. 31 is Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the World.

And an extract of the map for the Ypres area

Belgium and part of France 1:40,000 1923 C28:18 (14)

And to finish, an extract from a trench map made at the end of the Third Battle of Ypres, just after the capture of the village of Passchendaele. At the bottom of the map is the hamlet of Tyne Cott and the start of the Allied cemetery.

Extract from Zonnebeke 28 n.e. 1, Dec 1917, C1 (3) [720]. This is the 9a edition of a sheet updated throughout the advance made by the Allied troops throughout the battle. British trenches in red, German in blue. Trench maps very rarely show British trenches in too much detail in case the map was captured by the enemy.

* With thanks to our colleagues from the Music Department for the piece on Ernest Farrar.