Author Archives: stuart

Dedicated with great disrespect and contempt…

In a collection that has it’s fair share of strange maps (‘Naughty Norman’s London sex map’ anyone?) this has to be one of the strangest.

A new & exact map of Toryland, with the dangerous rocks & shoals of all the Jacobite Islands lying in the same parralell with the Red Sea, whose lattitude is 1588 & longitude 1714. Dedicated with great disrespect & contempt to the Knight of ye Warming Pan & King of No-Land ye Pretender & all his Brainless adherents’. 

Where to start? The Knight of the Warming Pan was James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Prentender, the son of the last Catholic King of England, James II. His mother, Mary of Modena was considered past child-bearing age (a stately 29 at the time of the birth) so it was suspected that a baby had been smuggled into the bedchamber in a warming pan, in an attempt to keep a Catholic succession in place. 1588 is the date of the Spanish Armada while in 1714 George Louis, a Lutheran Prince from Hannover in Germany who was the closest relative to the recently deceased Queen Anne became George I. The fact that the crown was now in the hands of a foreign national who didn’t speak English didn’t go down well with James, who would have been King if his father hadn’t been deposed during the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, restoring Protestant rule with William III, William of Orange as was.

The Jacobite Rebellions were attempts in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries to restore the House of Stuart to the throne. This map is a cartoon satire against that, the ‘dangerous rocks and shoals’ that surround Toryland are symbolical of the dangers that sailors face when navigating around dangerous shores while Toryland itself is full of warnings about what a Catholic monarchy would mean; ‘Restoration of Abby land’ (as in a return to the Abbeys and Monastery’s in place, and all the supposed corruption and indulgencies associated with them from before the Reformation), the Bishoprick of Rome, arbitrary government and absolute monarchy amongst others. The islands and shoals surrounding are also full of danger; No parliaments, loss of trade and no juries featuring here amongst others, as well as the island of ‘D-m me I’m in high church, & ye Presbyterians are Sons of Whores’.

Nearly off the map is Whig Island, a land of Protestant and English  tradition. Here we find safety in ‘Magna Charta’ land, ‘Parliamentary Right’ and ‘Hannover Succession Rock’.

Like all maps trying to make a serious point this works because it looks like, and uses, standard mapping practise. The compass rose is an example. Traditionally used to show the compass directions in this case the compass points to people prominent in the Jacobite movement.

The compass also has a dual meaning. In mapping terms it shows direction, shows the right and wrong way to go, and this can be compared to a moral compass, which has the same purpose, to show the right and wrong way to live your life. Other stock mapping traditions can be seen in the way that rocks and dangers are portrayed, the use of crosses is both common on nautical charts of the day to show rocks but also has religious overtones while the language in the title is similar to that of other maps, ‘Great disrespect and contempt’ mirroring the dedications on many maps to rich and influential people (see here for example)

There are a number of variations of maps making a point by pretending to be a serious cartographic work, a blog about a religious example can be found here, while political versions can be found here. These ‘imaginary maps’ have a long cartographic tradition, and can be seen to have their origins in the maps painted on the walls of Egyptian Tombs to show the departed souls the way to the underworld and continue with Thomas More’s map of Utopia through to the cartoon maps linked above to famous recent examples such as the classic Guardian April Fools from 1977 April fool – San Serriffe: teaching resource of the month from the GNM Archive, April 2012 | The Guardian Foundation | The Guardian

fol. Delta 755

The voyage of the Hero

Admiralty Charts have a reassuring familiarity about them. The Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty first started publishing maps in 1800 and this map from 1860 uses cartographic conventions still in place today. This sense of timelessness comes from the charts concentrating on hydrographic information; soundings, rocks, beacons and so on, features that don’t alter over time. Almost all our cartographic charts in the Bodleian come from legal deposit in pristine condition. I say almost because we do have a number of donated charts as well. What is special about this particular donated map is that it is a chart that has been used, a course has been plotted of a voyage made between July and August of an unspecified year by an unknown ship. A chart used as intended.

North Atlantic Ocean, published at the Admiralty, 18th June, 1860. B1 a.19

The challenge is to try and discover more about the journey, which really comes down to when and what ship? All we have to go on when looking at the chart is the route, from Southampton across the Atlantic to Quebec, with positions at noon each day from July 10th to August 18th. A seemingly impossible task but there is a clue separate from the map. The chart is one of a number bound up in a volume with the simple title Charts of the Gulf & River St. Lawrence by Capt. H.W. Bayfield, R.N and on the contents page there is a hastily written note in pencil that is the key to the mystery . Sir Henry Acland has a strong connection with Oxford and the Bodleian. Born in Exeter in 1815 Acland became a Fellow of All Souls College and then in 1851 Physician to the Radcliffe Infirmary and Radcliffe Librarian in the Radcliffe Camera which had been, since built, the home of the Radcliffe Science Library. It was during Acland’s time as Librarian that the collection of books moved to a new Radcliffe Science Library and the Camera became part of the Bodleian. This explains Acland’s close relationship with the Bodleian, and the reason why he donated the set of nautical charts to the library in July 1880.

An extract from the chart showing the route taken to Quebec, sailing through the wonderfully named Gut of Canso (also called the Gut of Canseau) between Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island.

Research into Acland’s life then explains the rest. In 1860 he became physician to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (who later became Edward VII) just before he went on an official trip to Canada and the United States  onboard H.M.S. Hero, the first time a Prince of Wales had made this journey. The map charts the daily position of the Hero as it voyaged across the Atlantic.

The Gut of Canso (here called Canseau) taken from one of the other charts in the volume. The numbers are soundings while the yellow colours show the positions of lights, which could either be fixed (indicated by the letter F) or revolving (the letter R).

In Oxford Acland is famous for a map made six years before the voyage of the Hero. In 1854 he produced a report on a series of Cholera outbreaks in Oxford which had led to a number of fatalities. It came with a map which highlights the poor sanitary conditions in parts of the city (the areas shaded in green) , the parts of the Thames contaminated and unsafe to drink and the locations where there were cases of Cholera (more on the map can be found here). 

Map of Oxford to illustrate Dr. Acland’s memoir of cholera in Oxford in 1854… 1854. C17:70 Oxford (15)

The Acland Hospital, so long a feature on the Banbury Road in Oxford and now at the Manor Hospital in Headington was built as a memorial to Acland’s wife Sarah. A daughter, also called Sarah, was an early photographer, some of her work can be found in the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.

In the year after the voyage a book was privately published by Gardner D. Engleheart. ‘Journal of the progress of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales through British North America and his visit to the United States… (203 a.333)’. The book includes illustrations and text about the visit and, helpfully for the purpose of this blog and identifying the map, a log of the journey out giving positions at noon on each day as well as a number of different diary entries from the voyage. So for instance we learn that the Royal Yacht (the Hero) ‘with the Prince Consort sailed at 4 a.m.’, presumably to catch the tide. Then, far more dramatically, from a different diary on the 12th ‘Man overboard! The gun-room steward jumped out of one of the ports, in a fit of temporary insanity, and was drowned! Every effort was made to rescue him, but he would not be saved.’

Dryness pleaseth…

This beautiful map of the Bedford level lying between The Wash at the top of the map and Cambridge at the bottom shows the distribution and use of land of the Great Fens, an important wetlands site that had been drained in the seventeenth century.

To the most noble the Governor, the Bailiffs, and Conservators of the Great Level of the Fens, called Bedford Level, this map of the said Great Level and parts adjacent is most gratefully dedicated by Samuel Wells. 1829 (E) C17:17 (7)

The draining of the Fen has a long history. Initially the celebrated Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden was commissioned by King James to drain the fen. This at first proved unsuccessful and then Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford, who owed a great deal of land in the area, came to an agreement with Charles I to drain the Fen after which the Duke and a group of fellow investors in the project, known as ‘Adventurers’, would share in the division of the land with the King, each to their own according to the size of the investment made.

 Vermuyden planned and then organized the  digging of the New Bedford River, which ran parallel to the Old River, with a flood plain between the two. These are the two straight lines that run from the middle bottom left to middle top right, draining into the River Great Ouse and then eventually into the sea at King’s Lynn. A new company was formed to handle the administration of the levelling called the ‘Bedford Level Corporation’, and it is their coat of arms that can be seen on the map. Their motto is, appropriately enough, ‘Dryness pleaseth’.

 

The map is cloth-backed, which would have made it easier to unfold and fold up again any number of times without weakening the paper and causing damage. The effect of the folding and then storing the map has led to ‘ghosting’. This is when the imprint of the image appears faintly as a mirror image on its opposite fold, most attractively illustrated in this image with the faint ghost of the compass rose appearing above the true rose. The map was made to accompany a two volume work, The history of the drainage of the Great Level of the Fens, called the Bedford Level; with the constitution and laws of the Bedford Level Corporation, by Samuel Wells, Register of the Corporation, and published in 1830. This is a comprehensive history of the Fens and the drainage going back to the Roman occupation.

The map shows different levels of land; from that owned by the investors (the numerous plots in red)  to land outside of the Great Level (in blue). The green and yellow show higher ground, and hence land that didn’t need to be drained, both inside (green) and outside (yellow) the level. A map that shows plots of land either for sale or as a record of ownership is called a cadastral map. In the second volume of Wells’ history of the Fens he lists each plot giving information on ownership, size (in acres, rods and perches) and the amount of tax paid on the plot twice yearly. Cadastral maps, especially ones as old as this, are important for a number of reasons. Not only do they give an accurate record of the land at the time the map was made they also give a historical record of land ownership at a particular time.  As with all old maps that list names of people they’re also a wonderful link with our past.

Samuel Wells owned lot VII in Methwold Common

To show how long the levelling of the Fens had been going on here’s an extract from A mapp of ye Great Levell of ye Fenns extending into ye countyes of Northampton, Norfolk, Suffolke, Lyncolne, Cambridg & Huntingdon & the Isle of Ely as it is now drained, described by Sr Jonas Moore (Gough Maps Cambridgeshire 2). The map was published in 1684 and shows how the plot boundaries and identifying numbers have remained constant over the two hundred years between the two maps (the 1684 image has been stitched together for the purpose of this blog from two adjoining sheets).

Jonas Moore was an interesting character, one of those figures that start from humble beginnings to achieve things of lasting fame (born in Lancashire to poor parents it was said that his older brother was  ‘bewitched’ to death by one of the Pendle Witches). Mathematician, astronomer, surveyor and Ordnance Officer, as well as creating this map of the Fens he also designed and built a stone pier in Tangier when the Moroccan port was briefly held by the English.

Cornelius Vermuyden sailed to England in 1621, arriving from a Holland transformed by the draining of low-lying land. After draining and reclaiming wetlands at Canvey and around the Isle of Axholme, Vermuyden was commissioned by the Crown to drain the area of the Great Fens, bringing to an end a way of life supported by wildfowl, peat and withy cutting that had been in place for centuries. Vermuyden wrote one of the earliest works on draining the Fens in 1642, a turbulent year if ever there was one. This image comes from collection of pamphlets about the drainage of the Great Level simply titled ‘Fens’, which includes 19 pamphlets ranging in date from Vermuyden’s in 1642 through to 1775 and is part of the great collection of books, maps and plans belonging to Richard Gough that came to the Library in 1809 (more about Gough and the map of Britain named after him here)

Modesty didn’t seem to hold Vermuyden back. In the introduction to the work he lets us know that not only  have others tried to do what he achieved, but he had the King’s support throughout. ‘Divers persons of quality heretofore have been desirous to attempt the drayning of the great and vast levell called the Great Fennes, but they found not onely the worke but also the composing of an agreement very difficult, for they could not attaine to so much as to make a contract for the generall drayning thereof, until of late years king James of blessed memory, did undertake (by a law of sewers) that great worke, who for the honour of the Kingdome (as his Majesty told me at the time) would not suffer any longer the said land to be abandoned to the will of the waters, nor to let it lye wast and unprofitable.’

 

 

Teberda

The Teberda Nature Reserve is one of the most visited reserves in all of Russia, which is pretty impressive considering how far south it is, down on the Georgian border. Located on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains it’s a suitable hilly environment, as can be seen on this wonderful tourist map of the area.

Showing a hilly region pictorially is a common way of drawing maps as it highlights the relief in a more immediate way than a ‘birds-eye view’ (more blogs on relief and pictorial mapping here  here, and here.)

The map is produced by the cartographic division of the Soviet Union, the Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii (GUGK). You’d imagine something state run in a Soviet society to be an unimaginative organization producing efficient but dull maps. With the GUGK this couldn’t be further from the truth, their use of bold colouring and uniform text styles make their maps instantly recognizably while at the same time both informative and aesthetically pleasing, and the Teberda map is a case in point. The map has been made with south at the top, this has enabled the cartographer to show off the region and hills to its best advantage, a decision no doubt influenced by the way the hills, especially those to the west and north of the valley floor, all seem to come towards the viewer, while at the same time giving a clear view of the main north-south road system between the two main resorts (Teberda at the bottom and Dombay towards the top right). The soft pastel colours and clever use of occasional shading give a sense of altitude and also, in the higher points, a hint of snow.

On the reverse of the map is text about the region and a panorama of the higher mountains found at the top right of the main map. There’s also a lovely cover, highlighting the mountainous landscape along with the beauty on show.

Теберда – Домбай (Teberda – Dombay), 1963. C40:9 (129)

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).