Category Archives: History

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)

 

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.

 

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

The classical world

The subject of teaching Latin in schools has been in the news lately.  Go back a few hundred years, and learning about ancient languages and civilisations was a fundamental part of education. Fascination with classical learning, and the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, could be expressed in maps as well as other forms. This atlas containing 36 maps of the classical world, with accompanying tables describing the organisation of the Roman Empire, has just been catalogued. All the maps date from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, and almost all are French.

This is an atlas factice – a composite atlas, assembled to order or bound by the collector – and these are always particularly exciting to deal with as you don’t know what you will find next. It has no title page, but bears the spine title “Antient mapps”. It is quite coherently organized, beginning with maps of the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire (see above), which even include small inset maps of the eastern and western hemispheres for a global view. It goes on to include more detailed maps of the Empire’s regions, and those associated with other early civilizations such as Greece, Illyria and Scythia; then come maps of the regions of Turkey and the Colchis and Albania regions of what is now Georgia in the Caucasus.

Most of the maps don’t appear to be very common, and a detailed map of Gallia Antiquae (ancient Gaul or France), which was first made by the French mapmaker Nicolas Sanson in 1627, appears in a later revised edition by Pierre Moulart-Sanson (his grandson) with additional descriptive text for which we have not been able to find any records elsewhere. It may however appear unrecorded in atlases.

All the countries around the Mediterranean are shown as they were in the times of earlier civilisations, with Roman provinces and in some cases Roman roads marked; roads can be seen converging on the city of Rome on the map above, reminiscent of the old joke that the Roman roads ran very straight in all directions, and all led to Rome. The details of roads are sometimes derived from the Peutinger Table, a Medieval copy of a an earlier map showing the roads of the Roman Empire (you can see a copy online and have fun planning routes on Roman roads here https://www.omnesviae.org/viewer/).

By modern standards the maps are not that geographically accurate. Some places are shown as being on the same latitude when they are really an enormous distance apart, and ancient sites are occasionally shown in the wrong place. The shape of the Caucasus below is somewhat different to how it would be represented on a modern map. For some of the maps it is very difficult to calculate which prime meridian is being used.

Almost all the maps are French publications, with Nicolas Sanson and his son Guillaume being most widely represented, though a few Italian ones are included. This atlas is in the Bodleian Library, but nine of the maps also appear in another composite atlas held in the library of one of the university colleges, with a manuscript title page, suggesting that these may have been available as a set. These are nearly all by the Sansons.

Antient mapps. [1660-1723] . Map Res 152

 

Making a point

What connects contraband, the Magna Carta, one-upmanship and the sin of earthly desire? The answer is Emanuel Bowen’s map from 1733, A New and Accurate Map of England and Wales’. 

In this map Bowen shows the roads throughout the country, with additional information on either the map or on the accompanying sheets giving distances from London and whether the roads are post, cross or ‘roads not to be found on Mr. Ogilby’s survey’ . If this was all the map did it would be a very good example of a common road map of the time (Bowen had produced earlier road maps that again had a dig at John Ogilby, with his ‘Britannia depicta or Ogilby improv’d’ set of road maps’ atlas). What sets this map apart from all others is the championing of the Members of Parliament that had recently voted against an Excise Bill. Introduced by Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the country’s first official Prime Minister, the Bill was intended to raise taxes on contraband goods while reducing the taxes of the rich landowners, appeasing those who had the power to vote. The idea that tax officers could go into people’s houses looking for such goods proved so unpopular – William Pitt, MP, led the rallying cry with ‘an Englishman’s house is his castle’ – that the Bill was quickly dropped. Bowen dedicates his map to the ‘the 205 members endear’d to their country by so seasonable an interposition in defence of it’s liberties’.  Bowen further emphasises this sense of liberty by evoking an earlier time when the Crown and right of rule was challenged. The arms of the Members of Parliament that voted against the BIll feature on two accompanying sheets, the coats of arms that appear underneath the map are for those Barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, protecting rights and restricting the power of the Crown. To make the point further Bowen uses symbolism around the cartouche to reinforce this connection between the 1215 and 1733 opposition to the State and Crown

On the left is Liberty, here shown with a staff topped by a Liberty Cap (which dates back to Ancient Rome, and were worn by freed slaves) while on the right is Britannia, holding a copy of the Magna C[h]arta. The chained figure represents man enslaved by earthly desires. Bowen’s opposition to the Bill didn’t do him any harm in the long-run as he eventually became Royal Geographer to George II, despite the King supporting Walpole after the defeat of the Bill and the opposition in both Parliament and on the streets .

The Bodleian has four copies of the Magna Carta, the earliest from 1217, which can be viewed here

The ‘Mr Ogilby’ derided at every opportunity by Bowen is John Ogilby, who in 1675 published the first set of road maps done as a set of strips. Ogilby’s work was revolutionary, but due to reasons possibly nefarious left out some routes, more on his story can be found in an earlier blog here

A New and Accurate Map of England and Wales… Where unto are added… a list of Members… who voted for & against bringing in ye late Excise Scheme. 1733. (E) C17 (540)

A land of silver?

This beautiful map of part of the coast of Brazil has been in the Bodleian’s collections for many years. It was drawn to our attention recently by an enquiry from officials in the city of Fortaleza, part of the area which it represents.

The map is in an unusual style; a planimetric view of the coast from above gradually shifts as we look inland to a bird’s eye view of the mountains outlined against the sky as if in a picture. It shows the area around the fort, built by the Dutch West India Company in 1649 and first named Fort Schoonenborch (the name is spelt in several different ways on this map). The inland areas of forest around the river are beautifully depicted. North is towards the bottom of the sheet, as indicated by the compass rose. The text is in French, with a number of misspellings that suggest it may have been made by someone who was a not a good French speaker; the spelling of “Zud” instead of “Sud” for south in the title for example. The area was disputed by the Dutch and Portuguese, and the fort was handed over to the Portuguese in 1653. They renamed it Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora de Assunção; the area around it is now a substantial city, still called Fortaleza, capital of the north eastern state of Ceará.

The map includes a detailed plan of the fort, a section through and a numbered index locating its features. This would be useful military information. Some water depths are given around the fort; the map would be of practical use for anyone arriving by sea.

The map was found amongst the papers of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. Why is this hand drawn map of part of the coast of Brazil amongst the state papers of an adviser to an English king? The answer is in the accompanying written text described as a “Remonstrance concerning advantages for his sacred Majestie”, directed to Charles II. It explains that the map is a “true copy of an original gotten out of the secret cabinet of the Amsterdam West India Company”, and describes the enormous value of silver that exists to be mined in the area. The text appears to come from Balthazar Gerbier (who also refers to himself by the name Douvilly, a reference to a probably invented noble ancestor). At this time Gerbier, formerly a courtier, diplomat and art consultant, had fallen on hard times since the Restoration. He had previously taken part in an unsuccessful expedition to Guiana in search of gold. His extravagant claims regarding silver around Fortaleza do not appear to have been followed up.The hope of finding precious metal was an important part of exploration of the Americas by Europeans. This cartouche from a Dutch printed map of South America, from around the same time, shows South American people apparently smelting metal before well-dressed European gentlemen in ruffs and flamboyant hats; miners can be seen carrying their pick axes uphill in the background.

La description dela contrée de Chiara en Amerique á trois degrez du zud du temp que la Compagnie des Indes Occidentalos la possedoit, et y avoient erigé le fort Schonenbourg. 1649-1653,  MS. Clarendon 92 (f.179a)

Tractus australior Americae Meridionalis a Rio de la Plata per Fretum Magellanicum ad Toraltum. ca 1650. (E) H1:7 (2)

Counting people

March 2021 is a census month, the 22nd since the first in 1801 (the 1941 census was cancelled due to the war*). United Kingdom censuses initially set out to count the number of people and their employment, it wasn’t until 1841, the date of our map, that names were taken. From the 1851 census onwards information such as disabilities and religion was gathered as well. Here is a map showing information from the 1841 census, the rather wonderfully titled ‘Map of the British Isles, elucidating the distribution of the population, based on the census of 1841. Compiled & drawn by Augustus Petermann’.

Map of the British Isles, elucidating the distribution of the population, based on the census of 1841. Compiled & drawn by Augustus Petermann’. c1847. (E) C15 (157)

The map works by way of shading and spots. The shading indicates the varying degrees of population over the country, with the darker shading showing an area of denser population, while the coloured dots show towns according to population size (red for towns of 100,000 or more and so-on down to a clear dot for towns of under 10,000). It’s not an ideal way to show a large amount of information but gives an immediate idea of where populations are; London, the Midlands, the Manchester-Liverpool and Glasgow-Edinburgh regions, and of how under populated the country-side was, partly by this point as a result of Enclosure Acts forcing people off the land and into the cities and towns. Here’s an extract showing London in more detail

The numbers shown (204 for Sussex for example) shows the average number of people per square mile, or as the map nicely puts it ‘the number of souls to 1 English (statute) mile’. There is also a table listing population per county.

Text on the map explains how geography has played a part in population. ‘Mountains and valleys determine the main features in the distribution of the population, the latter exhibiting naturally the greater masses’. Petermann gives as an example Scotland, and how with a wide range of Mountainous areas most of the population live in-between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, with a 3rd of the total population occupying a 30th of the land mass. Ireland, by comparison generally has smaller mountain groups, and less of them, so there is a more even spread of population.

The 1801 census asked 6 questions. Broadly speaking these were; how many inhabited houses in each Parish, Township or place, and how many families live in each one, how many people in each parish etc, distinguishing between male and female, how many are employed in agriculture, trade, manufacturing and handicrafts, how many baptisms and burials in the years 1700, 1710, 1720 and so-on until 1800, how many marriages between 1754 and 1800 (1754 chosen as the year when a Marriage Act made the year before came into force), and then finally if there were any questions or notes about any of the previous questions.

Augustus Petermann was a celebrated German cartographer, learning his trade in Germany, then Scotland before moving to London to work in 1847. He became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and, which accounts for the dedication in the title, ‘Physical-Geographer Royal’ to Queen Victoria.  Unfortunately professional success wasn’t matched in his private life. His first marriage ended in divorce, his second in suicide in 1878.

The Bodleian has a large number of maps and atlases which makes use census information. Census information also began to appear in gazetteers from the 1830s onwards, when, with the availability to compare current to previous figures accurately, population figures for towns could be given. This population map of the Saxony region of Germany is a recent addition to the map collection. Volksdichte-Schichtenkarte des Königreiches Sachsen nach der Zählung vom 1. Dezember 1900 (Population density layers map of the Kingdom of Saxony after the census of December 1, 1900) shows density of population by colour with two insets for the areas around Dresden and Leipzig from an earlier 1846 census. The map uses a technique called isopleth to show the density of population. Isopleth uses lines to show areas of equal value, the lines are similar to contours on a physical map and work on the same principle. The main advantage is that you can see at a glance the heavily populated areas by the colour ranges shown on the graph. That Saxony was, in 1900, a mainly rural area can be seen be the amount of green and brown cover shown.

Volksdichte-Schichtenkarte des Königreiches Sachsen nach der Zählung vom 1. Dezember 1900, C22:25 (74)

*There was a census count in 1966, the first and only time a mid-decade count was made.

 

Mapping radiation

On the 26th April 1986 technicians at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR turned off the power to the number 4 reactor, hoping to test back-up generators used to keep the cooling waters circulating in case of a power outage. During the test the power-levels dropped to unexpected and dangerous levels. Following instructions that didn’t allow for such a possibility meant that the test proceeded, leading to a chain reaction releasing a huge amount of energy which immediately vaporized the cooling water, caused a devastating steam explosion and then the escape of a large radiation cloud. Wind conditions and proximity to the site meant that most of this radiation fell on the Byelorussian SSR.

This map, made post-independence in 1992, shows the density of pollution caused by Caesium-137 at different levels of contamination (a radioactive isotype that reacts with water, which as a consequence makes it easy to move around the body. It is one of the two most prominent isotypes released after the accident, and will continue to be a major health hazard in the area for the next two hundred years). The strong use of colours, more reminiscent of coloured-layering, is here used to show dramatically the area of contamination. There is also an inset of the area nearest the nuclear site showing strontium and plutonium radiation (Chernobyl is at the bottom centre of the map, Черновыль). What the map doesn’t show, of course, is the human cost to this tragedy. Only the title, ‘…until January 1992’, hints at a lethal problem still in place 6 years after the event. An updated version from 1993 manages to convey this cost though. Text in a number of languages states ‘…a catastrophe broke out – the major break-down of the power unit at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. By its scale, complicity and long-term consequences it is the most severe catastrophe throughout the entire World history of atomic energy use…after the Chernobyl accident Belarus has become the zone of of the ecological disaster‘.  The text is in a number of languages; Russian, English, French, German and Polish, and when you carry on reading you realise why. As well as a map to show the spread of radiation following the accident the map is also a plea for international aid, ‘But the extent of the consequences of the catastrophe of the Chernobyl Power Station is so enormous that, it is regrettably, impossible for Belarus to liquidate them alone. The Republic badly needs medicines…The Byelorussian people, guiltless victims of the severe catastrophe, need the help of the international community.’

This extract comes from the back of the 1993 map, which includes the appeal for international aid. The three maps show the spread of the contaminated cloud between the April 27 and May 1st.

Maps have played a crucial roll in showing the aftermath of the Chernobyl incident. From tracking the contaminated cloud spreading across Eastern Europe to the more long-term mapping of contaminated lands maps have been the most useful medium to show the immediate and long-term effects of the disaster.

The Bodleian holds maps from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Office for Official Publications of European Communities and the Hungarian Academy Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences as well as commercial publishers on Chernobyl and there are a number of interesting websites on the disaster, including Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Map – Chernobyl 35 years laterNew mapping of radioactive fallout in Western Europe | EU Science Hub (europa.eu) and  ESA – Mapping Chernobyl fires from space

Карtа Радиационной Обстановки на территории Республики по на Январь 1992 г (Map of the radiation situation on the Territory of the Republic until January 1992) 1992 C403 (101). The 1993 map, Republic of Belarus. Review – topographic map with the data on radiation contamination is at C403 (104). Both maps are at 1:1,000,000

 

St Petersburg in colour

This large, beautiful map of St Petersburg was recently donated to the Bodleian Map Room. Measuring just over a metre square, it shows the city in great detail. Every building is marked and the layouts of parks and gardens around the city are shown. The fortress on Zayachy Island is shown in detail (below). The water depths in the Neva river and estuary are included. The title makes reference to some of the earlier plans on which the map is partly based, beginning with that of Fedor Shubert in 1828; it was updated from surveys in the 1850s and 1860s. It was published in St Petersburg in 1868.

The reverse of the map carries a handwritten note, “Petrograd”, which would date its acquisition by a previous owner to some time in the ten years from 1914 to 1924. Previously the city had been known as St Petersburg, since its founding by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 (on the site of an earlier Swedish fort); he made it the capital of Russia, which it remained until 1917. In 1924, shortly after the death of Bolshevik leader Lenin, it was renamed Leningrad in his honour. In 1991 the name reverted to St Petersburg.

The map is delicately coloured in red, green, blue and black. At first glance it appears to be hand coloured as the colouring is so smooth, but closer examination suggests that it was lithographed; very slight offsetting can be seen in places (where the green plate does not exactly line up with the coastline on some of the islands, for example, as can be seen in the detail above).  Colour printing of maps took off in the twentieth century; this is an unusually fine early example.

A final thought: This blog post replaces our Christmas blog post (below) as the 12 days of Christmas are now over in the UK and much of the western world. However, the Christmas season is just beginning in the Russian Orthodox Church, so we would like to wish everyone celebrating a very Happy Christmas!

Plan S. Peterburga : sostavlen na osnovanīi plana Shuberta 1828 g., posli͡edneĭ rekognost͡sirovki Voenno topograficheskago depo 1858 g., gidrograficheskikh kart Nevy i ei͡a ustʹi͡a izdanīi͡a Gidrograficheskago departamenta Morskago ministerstva 1864 g. i rekognost͡sirovok proizvedennykh 1867 i 1868 godakh redaktorom T͡Sentralʹnago statistichesk: komiteta M. Ī. Musnit͡skim / ispolnen v Kartograficheskom zavedenīi A. Ilʹina. S. Peterburg : Kartograficheskoe zav. A. Ilʹina, 1868. C400:50 St Petersburg (24)