Category Archives: Geography

Plane Globe, or, Flat Earth

Geographic depiction of the globe comes in several forms but this one is still a little unusual.  The Modern  Geography… a treatise on the newly-invented Plane Globe  contains essentially two cardboard hemispheres mounted as volvelles with accompanying text description and detailed instructions for use.  The maps are beautifully engraved and hand coloured, centred on the North and South Poles fixed with brass measuring rules.  Curiously for the time the measure is marked in centimetres rather than inches.

This plane globe was issued at a time when geography was emerging as an academic discipline, indeed the Royal Geographical Society had been founded less than a decade previously.  The volume was printed in Manchester in around 1839 by Bancks and Co. which was responsible for the impressive large scale Plan of Manchester and Salford (1832).

The globe form was considered the ultimate in geographical aids so that students could fully understand spatial relationships and had a part to play in instructing astronomers and navigators, however they are bulky and unwieldy. To overcome the problem of portability, convenience and legibility ‘Inventor’ Joseph Bentley has devised what he describes as a ‘Plane Globe’ as a device for learning, as he says on the title page “… for the student, the man of business, and all classes who wish to know something of the world we live in; …”.  The Modern Geography was reviewed in The Spectator (vol.12, June 29, 1839) who were rather impressed

“…is clear and comprehensive; containing an immense amount of statistical and other useful information, packed into a close compass, and so well arranged that individual facts appertaining to any country are easily ascertained: for instance, the latitude and longitude, population, products, and manufactures of every chief town in the world. The topography of the British Isles is still more fully and minutely described: the boundaries and extent of each country – the population, constituencies, and parishes – the average rent of and per acre, the ratio of crime and instruction, and the average amount of productions – are stated. The general account of the different states and kingdoms, though concise, is lively and pregnant with matter. In a word, the publication is a complete multum in parvo of ‘Geography and the use of the Globe.”

The hemispheres are attached to the boards with beautifully illustrated figures in the corners including an orrery and a telescopic view of the moon. The Plane Globe is bound in square quarto, quarter red morocco with green cloth covered boards and black paper title label to upper board.  When the volume arrived in the library as part of the copyright intake it was one of the last books placed in the ‘Med.’[Medicina] classification which is one part of the Bodleian four-part classification. In the later years the distinction by faculty began to be disregarded, and books were added where there was space on the shelves, accounting for this rather anomalous shelfmark.

 

Not a lot is known about Joseph Bentley himself but there is mention of the availability a celestial plane globe but none seems to have survived. The Modern Geography was later issued without the globe element so the lack of further editions of this work and the high price it probably means it was not a commercial success.

 

Bentley, Joseph. Modern geography, for the student, the man of business and all classes who wish to know something of the world we live in; … Manchester, [1839]  4° P 40 Med.

Bentley, Joseph. Modern Geography : for the student, the man of business, and all classes who wish to know something of the habitable globe; … Manchester, [1839]  [Without plane globe] S 748 (Buxton Room)

Urbs in Rure

In the mid-nineteenth century Oxford was still a small town dominated by the University but surrounded on three sides by water which had the effect of curtailing expansion of decent housing but by 1850 a series of circumstances led to the development of the North Oxford suburbs, in the St Giles parish. The population of the town grew sharply between 1821 and 1841, the Great Western Railway arrived in 1844 and, later in the 1870s, University fellows were allowed to marry thus leaving their college lodgings to live nearby. St John’s College owned a large tract of land, known as St Giles Fields which it had acquired in 1573 from George Owen, physician to Henry VIII to the north of the town. The middle class of professionals with disposable wealth were growing, housing was required so the time was ripe to develop this land.

The first attempt came in 1852 when architect Samuel Lipscomb Seckham (who went on to built Bletchley Park) was asked by the College to submit drawings for a new suburb to the north of the town. This terraced crescent of handsome Italianate houses with communal garden, rather in the style of Bath, became Park Town, the earliest planned development in Oxford.

This was the forerunner to the later developments of Walton Manor and Norham Manor. Once again Seckham produced this drawing for the what was to be called Walton Manor. As you can see most of the large villas are in his preferred Italianate style except for one which oddly shows elements of Victorian Gothic. This was not as successful with only one of the residences being built – still currently at 121-123 Woodstock Road.

The Walton Manor estate plan was revived in 1859 with Seckham still in charge but with the plan considerably changed. The following year an adjoining piece of land was offered for sale to become the Norham Manor estate by St John’s College. Initially Seckham was to manage both estates but William Wilkinson an architect from an auctioneering family of Witney, nearby, was awarded the supervision of Norham Manor. Wilkinson’s practice was prospering but involved church restorations and work for the rural gentry on domestic and agricultural buildings rather than villas and terraces.

His vision for the estate can be seen clearly from this view which was painted by him in c.1860. In this incredibly detailed watercolour you can see it has been conceived as a gated community of large suburban villas for the wealthy middle classes. By the mid-1860s Wilkinson had taken over the whole of the North Oxford suburb development and was building his pièce de resistance, the Randolph Hotel (1862-64). This Oxford landmark is still standing in its Gothic splendour.The large individual residences of both Norham Manor and Walton Manor were largely complete by 1870 so attention was turned to the smaller semi detached and terraced houses which give the area its character today. However, not everyone was a fan – Thomas Sharp of Oxford Replanned (blog here) felt the area was an ‘architectural nightmare’.

The spread of development can be seen clearly in the map record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ordnance Survey 1st edition 25” Oxfordshire XXXIII.15 1876
Bird’s eye view of the Walton Manor Estate [1854] C17:70 Oxford (103)
Proposed Norham Manor Estate [c.1860] MS. Top. gen. a. 22
Plan of an Estate called Park Town [1853] C17:70 Oxford (30)
T. Jeffreys. Plan of the university & city of Oxford 1767 Gough Maps Oxfordshire 17
Alden’s new plan of the city and university of Oxford 1888 C17:70 Oxford (5)
Plan of Oxford 1902 C17:70 Oxford (6)
Plan of the city and university of Oxford [1949] C17:70 Oxford (36)

Chalk

We’re slowly processing a large amount of rolled and relief mapping that was donated to the      library a number of years ago.  Everything has been carefully stored in bubble wrap but a lot of the material is old, and quite a lot has been used for teaching purposes and has been varnished, that curse for the modern curator. We’re steadily working through the rolls and have started to look at the flat material, most of which seems to be maps in frames.

The first is going to be a challenge to our Conservation Department. The base to this relief map of the South Downs, Channel and part of the Pas-de-Calais has been made of either gesso or Plaster of Paris, we’re not sure yet. Both involve chalk which appropriate as the whole area is geologically made up of chalk and yet at the same time unfortunate as, after close to 150 years, the backing is now crumbling and combined with the effects of the varnishing has caused the map to both sink and split. Which is a shame as the map is a wonderful thing.

Geological model of the South East of England and part of France including the Weald and the Bas Boulonnais, 1873.

The relief of the area has been covered by a map made from information from maps published by the Ordnance Survey, Admiralty Office and the Geological Survey and then framed. The sculpted relief forms the hills of the Downs (from the old English word ‘Dun’, meaning hill) and the danger is as this backing further disintegrates and the frame and map splits more we’ll lose this effect*, hence the need for conservation.

One of the more interesting details on the map is the route shown of a proposed Channel tunnel. First suggested in 1802 the idea of a tunnel between the two countries steadily grew towards the end of the 1800s. Both French and British engineers came up with proposals and in 1866 the English engineer Henry Marc Brunel made a survey of the floor of the Straits of Dover which showed that sea-floor was made up of chalk. Various attempts to build the tunnel were put in place but soon shelved due to funding and concerns, on the English side, of threats to British security.

One of the sheets of a French geological series published in 1878 is a reprint of an earlier geological series originally published in 1832 which shows the geology of the Straits in preparation for a possible tunnel. The geological information comes from reconnaissance work carried out for the wonderfully named Anglo-French Submarine Railway Company.

Carte géologique, Calais sheet 1. [1878?] (E) C2:5 (32)

*As well as the chalk. It’s strange to think that the chalky substence that has fallen off the map and now lies on the floor in our office came from a map made in 1873, even stranger when you remember that the chalk itself is made up of untold numbers of plankton from close to a 1,000,000 years ago.

An idealised landscape and a common mistake

This Panorama of physiographic types is an intriguing item in itself, and seems to have caused a little confusion both here in the Bodleian and in map libraries across the world. It’s a diagram demonstrating different types of landform in an imaginary landscape, shown both as a perspective drawing and conventional contour map. A similar diagram (for a different imaginary landscape, with different features) appears on the other side.

They are called simply Chart A and Chart B. Precise measurements are provided, and there is an accompanying sheet describing the different landscape features. It was first produced in 1926 by the American cartographer and geographer Armin K. Lobeck, and continued to be reprinted into the 1950s. Above is a detail from Chart B.

The landscape view on Chart B even includes subterranean features.

At the bottom of each chart, in text so small it would be easy to miss, is a succession of surprisingly difficult geographical exercises. These include precise calculations as to the heights and depths of certain features, drawing profiles, calculating past forms of now eroded landscapes and  positions of watersheds, identifying types of lakes, and reasons for the comparative heights of mountain ranges. There are baffling questions such as “What is the significance of the three ridges on the southern end of Whitbeck Mountain?” and “What kind of material probably occurs in Wright Bluffs?” There are also a few human geography questions, about likely sites for natural resources and good places to build cities.

Our attention was drawn to this map by a query on an email discussion list for map librarians (yes, these are a thing) on how the scale should be recorded on the catalogue record. The (notional) scale on both charts has a blank; it is written as 1:     , 000. There is also a scale bar showing that the scale is about one centimetre to a mile, which works out at around 1:161,000. As part of the exercises, the keen geography student was expected to calculate this.  However, map cataloguers across the world had been less observant, ignoring the blank and recording the map with a scale of 1:1,000. A staff member at a library in the United States spotted the error in their own record, and suggested that it was a printing mistake on the map. Other libraries which held the same map, on at least three continents, had the same mistake in their record for the map, including the Bodleian Library. It has now been corrected.

Maps of this sort showing a fictitious landscape for illustrative or educational purposes have been going for a long time; a previous blog post here gives examples from the 1910s and the 1970s. This week I also stumbled across an example from 1812; an educational atlas that begins with a map of an imaginary place to explain the terms and symbols used. This is from The young lady’s and gentleman’s atlas, for assisting them in the knowledge of geography, and the author describes himself as John Adams, teacher of mathematics. Judging by the handwritten names on the flyleaf it was shared by two sisters. It is often easier to explain the world through an idealised landscape rather than through the messiness of real examples.

Panorama of physiographic types / A.K. Lobeck. New York: The Geographical Press, Columbia University, [ca 1940]. O1 (9)

The young lady’s and gentleman’s atlas, for assisting them in the knowledge of geography / John Adams.  London: : Printed for Darton, Harvey, and Darton, 1812. Opie H 1

An anatomical geography?

This first map from John Andrews’ A geographical atlas of England, divided according to its natural, political, civil, ecclesiastical, ancient and modern divisions …  is at first glance hardly recognisable as a map of England and Wales. It shows only the mountain ranges, and the coastlines are missing.  The next map in the atlas is described as a “Map of the rivers, or anatomy of England”; it is coloured to show watersheds, and again divides the country in an unfamiliar way. It is almost as if the first map shows the country’s skeleton, and the second the circulatory system.

The (very long) title ends with the statement that the atlas is ‘for the improvement of youth‘. The  introduction, ‘on the utility of geography’ emphasises the subject’s long antecedents and practical use. The atlas was published in 1809 in the last year of Andrews’ life, when geography was beginning to grow in popularity as an academic subject in Britain.  Andrews had been publishing for over 30 years, producing many maps of English towns and counties, several of the latter in collaboration with others, as well some important maps of North America. Towards the end of his career he published more thematic works, including a historical atlas, and this, A geographical atlas of England. The atlas is a mixture of scientific, historical and general maps.

Most of the maps had been published before–  they have dates mainly from the late 1790s – and some are too large for the binding and had to be folded in; possibly the atlas was cobbled together from existing stock.  But for all that some of the maps are both beautiful and unusual and suggest different ways of looking at the country.  There are also several maps showing the supposed division of South Britain at different periods in history, such as under the Saxon kingdoms and the Roman occupation; these reflect the contemporary vogue for antiquities and early British history, although the sources used for this information were of dubious accuracy. The atlas ends with a map showing pride in Britain’s naval supremacy (above), giving the maritime counties and compass directions from London.

Although the atlas covers England and Wales, the map titles refer only to England or occasionally South Britain. Wales is unaccountably slighted.

A geographical atlas of England, divided according to its natural, political, civil, ecclesiastical, ancient and modern divisions, to which is added a political chart of Europe, to shew the positions of all the sea-ports, promontories and distances, in order to trace the naval and commercial intercourse between Great Britain, Ireland and the continent. In a series of maps, on a plan entirely new. Calculated to illustrate the history of this country, and for the improvement of youth, by John Andrews.  London : Printed for John Stockdale, 1809.  Allen 359.

 

 

Golden Globes

Globes in various forms are an everyday sight but intriguing none the less.  Like maps there are increasingly being looked at in an aesthetic light, but were designed with a clear educational function.  An early example the ’Erdapfel’ or ‘Behaim globe’ constructed between 1490 and 1492

was thought to have come to the attention of Christopher Columbus before his famous voyage.  He would have consulted flat paper maps but it is only on a globe can you appreciate the directness of the Great Circle route. They also “contrived to solve the various phœnomena of the earth and heavens, in a more easy and natural manner” so said George Adams in his Treatise describing the construction and explaining the use of new celestial and terrestrial globes. (1777)

Globes were traditionally made using gores – 12 or 16 shaped paper or vellum strips pasted to a sphere with ‘calottes’ or caps to cover the inevitable untidiness at the joins at the north and south pole and subsequently mounted at 23½° off the vertical to replicate earth’s tilt in space. To maintain this angle lead shot was used to balance. Some globes were manufactured to be portable whereby they can be disassembled in 48 pieces.

Modern self-supporting globes use sections that bear very little resemblance to the elegant gore. The traditional skill of globe making has been revived recently by Greaves & Thomas a small company specialising in the production of all manner of globes “spanning cartographic history from 1492 to the present day”.

The Bodleian has never restricted itself to collecting justbooks and manuscripts. Indeed it was Sir Thomas Bodley who purchased a pair of extravagantly expensive terrestrial and celestial Molyneux globes (1592) and subsequently bemoaned the fact they were getting ‘slurred’ (smudged) and so their upkeep would become a continuous charge.  This proved to be the case as the Bodleian accounts show payments made to the joiner in 1629, 1636 and in 1644 for mending one or other of the globes.  This pair was discarded in favour of a pair of Blaeu globes which can be seen on a contemporary print by David Loggan of Duke Humfrey’s Library in 1675. It appears these were also rejected in favour of a more modern (and smaller) pair of John Senex globes dating from 1728.  It is this pair which reside in the Rare Books and Manuscript Reading Room of the Weston Library.  .

Today globes are more likely to be found as blow ups, pop ups or large installations.

Examples of this more public structure can be found in Boston, Massachusetts as the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library and De Lorme’s Eartha globe in Yarmouth, Maine but equally the inflatable globe functions well as a ball on a beach. ‘Three dimensional atlases’ are now being published as pop ups of hemispheres, illustrating text wonderfully for younger readers. Miniature globes were regarded as children’s toys with some educational value but the most peculiar is the ostrich egg. Sadly the Bodleian does not possess one of these wonderful objects but given its delicate structure it is only a decorative piece.

Mapparium photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/2dhfXcJ

Egg photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bellerby_%26_Co_Egg_Globe_Commission.jpg

 

Clay on the Western front, a German viewpoint

Geological maps are an important part of cartography. Showing underlying soils and rock formations they have been used to illustrate papers in geology, in helping the planning and construction of canals, railways and other structures and in the extraction of minerals from the earth. Their use in times of war is less obvious, though no less important, as the following map shows.

The map is one of a series produced by the German 4th Army in July of 1918, a crucial time in the latter stages of the war. Peace negotiations with the new Soviet Government in Russia released a large number of German forces to the Western Front, strengthening plans to launch a series of attacks before the arrival of American forces. Initially successful – at one point German forces were within 40 miles of Paris – counter-attacks by Allied troops soon stopped and then re-captured German gains.

In this map from Harmsworth’s Atlas of the World (c1922, 2027 c.225) the German advances made in March 1918 can be seen. The thick blue line is the front-line before March, the  green lines show the advances made by the German army from March 1918 and finally the thick red line is the front-line at the Armistice in November.

 

The front page of the evening edition of the Pall Mall Gazette on the day the German attack was launched. 21st March, 1918. N 2288 b.4.

This geological map shows a cause for one of the  defining features of the War, mud. The areas of grey that start to appear in the bottom right of the map are the beginnings of the clay beds (ton in German) that would lie a metre or so under the surface throughout the Flanders battle grounds. These clay beds stopped any water seeping into the ground and the intricate system of dykes and drainage channels that controlled the flow of water in peace time had long-since been destroyed by the millions of shells fired over the area. The map states in the bottom left ‘Soil easy to handle; stable only in dry weather. After precipitation the water is kept close to the surface. Funnels fill up quickly with water (Boden leicht bearbeitbar…’.

Kriegsgeologische karte von Nord=Frankreich, Blatt Dünkirchen, 1918. C1:3 (295)

Volcanoes

Volcanoes, an exciting new exhibition, has opened in Blackwell Hall. Amongst the many treasures featured are a number of maps, including early portolans. These images come from ‘The Physical Atlas of Natural Phaenomena’,  published in Edinburgh in 1849 by William Blackwood & Sons.

 

The atlas is split up into four sections covering Geology, Hydrology, Meteorology and Natural history and has text, charts and pictures as well as maps, and is made with ‘the co-operation of men eminent in the different departments of science’.

 

The Physical Atlas, a series of maps illustrating the Geological distribution of Natural Phenomena…1849. William Blackwood & Sons. Allen LRO 393

Kaart van Java en Madura. Published in Breda by A.J. Bogaerts, 1850

This map shows the Sunda Strait and the islands of Krakatoa, which exploded in spectacular fashion in 1883 with a bang that is considered to be the loudest sound in modern times. Barographs in various locations recorded shock waves from the explosion that travelled around the world seven times and the last remaining ripples of a number of large tsunami’s that devastated the surrounding population and coastline were recorded as far away the English Channel.

 

Sicilia, c1700. (E) C25:26 (23)

Finally a map of Sicily from circa 1700 which not only shows a smoking Mount Etna on the map but has, in a vignette in the corner, Vulcan, God of Fire, working at his forge inside the volcano.

More details about the exhibition can be found here http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/whats-on/upcoming-events/2017/feb/volcanoes

 

(Take me back to) The Black Hills of Dakota

Geological maps are often amongst the most colourful of all the cartographic genres, with the majority using a wide range of colours to show the land beneath our feet. One of the first recognized geological maps produced in this way was William Smith’s celebrated map of England and Wales, from 1815, featured in an earlier entry in this blog, http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/maps/2015/01/ . Towards the end of the Nineteenth Century the Ordnance Survey  started to produce detailed, and often beautiful,  geological maps of Britain and Ireland, something which continues to this day with the British Geological Survey (https://www.bgs.ac.uk/).

This map of the Black Hills of South Dakota is a variation on the usual method of geological representation. The publishers, the United States Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain, Region, have used four different symbols of birds in flight to show the underlying

 

Bird’s eye view of the Black Hills…1879. F6:49 (12)

geology of the region.  A lack of any compass directions, text or scale on the map leaves a confused view of a complicated geological area. The Black Hills region has been dated back as far as 1.8 billion years, and was formed by magma deposits released during the movement of tectonic plates during the event known as the Trans-Hudson Orogeny (orogeny is a term used to describe geological events that cause major changes in the appearance of the Earth due to tectonic movement). The dramatic rings around the main area are caused by anticlines surrounding a dome (an anticline is a geological fold where strata are pushed together).

 

The Black Hills has a history as complex as its geology. Long been a site of spiritual importance the Hills took on a political significance after treaties giving the lands in perpetuity to the Lakota Indians in 1868 were ignored with the discovery of gold in 1874, and with defeat in the Great Sioux wars in 1876 the tribes were forcibly moved to reservations outside of the Black Hills area. A ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 stated that the relocation of the tribe was illegal, and that the Lakota were entitled to compensation, something which the Lakota refuse to accept as they believe that the only acceptable outcome is the return of the Black Hills. Mount Rushmore is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills and just across the border into Wyoming is the Devil’s Tower National Monument, created in 1906 and the first National Monument in the United States.

 

At the top of the map, just off the scan shown here, is the text ‘Dept. of the Interior, U.S.G and G. Survey, J.W. Powell in charge’. The U.S. G. and G. is the United States Geographical and Geological Survey, now called the U.S. Geological Survey and still producing maps to this day. J.W. Powell was an important figure in both the surveying and the exploration of the American West. John Wesley Powell was the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey but is remembered more for leading expeditions down the Colorado and Green Rivers, culminating in the first navigation through the Grand Canyon. A journey even more impressive considering that Powell had lost an arm during the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.

 

The area of the Black Hills, hard up against the border with Wyoming, shown on a more conventional geological map. The main part of the hill is schists (speckled brown) and granite (brown) surrounded by a ring of sandstone (light blue) and limestone (darker blue).This band of sandstone and limestone corresponds with the flat plateau of the western part of the raised dome in the earlier map.

Geological map of South Dakota, 1951. F6:49 (6).