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It’s all about perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As if we were never there

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Before and after

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

When one name leads to another

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

дорожное путешествие!

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on U.S. road maps here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog-eared

We all have maps like this. Dog-eared, well used, creased, pushed into pockets or bashed about in a rucksack. For whatever reason they show signs of wear and tear, which is an inevitable outcome considering the purpose of Ordnance Survey Landrangers and Explorers in the first place. Every crease or mark is a souvenir of a good walk or cycle.

This map, Landranger 194, Dorchester, Weymouth & surrounding area, from 1989 went on an early walking holiday with the future wife, in the early 90s. We took her dog Tess with us, an intelligent Labrador with a sense of fun. On one walk the map was spread out on the grass to plot the route and Tess walked across it. Tess is long-gone, but her paw print is still there, over Winterbourne Abbas and its stone circle, the Nine Stones. The map may have been superseded, but the personal importance will never go out of date.

We all have maps like this, don’t we? We have in the collections at the Bodleian. It’s exciting to come across a map that has been changed in someway, often to suit the owners’ needs. War seems often to be a cause, be it an altered trench map to show terrain

or a commercial Ordnance Survey 1/4″ sheet with additional marks made by a First World War pilot marking safe landing grounds around London (more on this map can be found here)

Then there are the plain bizarre, these links will take you to earlier blog posts of an intriguing burn mark on a map made during the Revolutionary period in France (here) and a map used by the film director Michael Winner to plan scenes for a film set during the Rome Olympics (here), 

Wife and dog on Dorset walk. Note state of paws, those aren’t socks.

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)

hey, you, get off my cloud…

In an already crowded field this has to be one of the more over the top cartouches.

A cartouche is a decorative part of the map that contains information such as the title, cartographer and other relevant text, and often uses symbolism to portray a meaning rooted in Renaissance thinking. It can also, in the case of this map, include a dedication to a person who is either the patron to the map-maker or subscriber to the map being made, the original crowd-funding. Here’s a guide to what is actually going on with this map of Surrey, dedicated to His Royal Highness William Henry.

Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1), grandson to King George II and brother to King George III, is surrounded by the the Nine Muses of Greek mythology, and with Geography, an additional Muse introduced during the Renaissance. The Muses are symbols for knowledge and the arts, and by portraying them and the Prince together the inference is that the Prince, and by association the map-makers, both deserve to be included in such lofty company. Amongst the Muses are Clio, who represents history and is usually shown with a book or a scroll and often a lyre (2), Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy (3) holding a dagger, Urania, associated with astronomy, usually shown with a globe, compass or armillary sphere (4) and, appropriately, Geography, shown with a telescope and other surveying tools (5). The Muses to the left of Prince William Henry draw his attention to lavish praise given in the cartouche.                                                                                                                                          Amongst this wealth of decoration is something that is easily over-looked but is as important at the time the map was made and now. Because of the lack of female cartographers Mary Ann Rocque deserves her place in the clouds (6). The title of the map is ‘A topographical map of the county of Surrey, in which is expressed all the roads, lanes, churches… the principal observations by the late John Rocque… compleated and engrav’d by Peter Andrews’ and this is the third edition,  from c1775. John Rocque died in 1762 and his wife Mary Ann carried on publishing maps after his death. Even though Rocque surveyed Surrey in preparation for this map it was Mary Ann who was responsible for the printing and selling of the work and it is Mary Ann, ‘his most h[um]ble and oblig’d servant’ who dedicates the map to the Prince. Mary Ann went on to make maps herself, eventually being awarded the title ‘Topographer to HRH the Duke of Gloucester’.

The skill involved in engraving the cartouche is apparent throughout the beautifully coloured map. This extract of the Horsell area shows off the skill involved in engraving such fine detail.

This is the only map that John Rocque and Peter Andrews worked on together though Andrews did further work for Mary Ann Rocque before concentrating on nautical charts. The two different colours on this extract are for separate Hundreds, a county division larger that a Parish. For different reasons Horsell features in an earlier blog post here

A topographical map of the county of Surrey, in which is expressed all the roads, lanes, churches… the principal observations by the late John Rocque… compleated and engrav’d by Peter Andrews. c1775 (E) C17:57 (31)

 

Going South

The early 20th century was the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration with the competition between a handful of men really pushing the boundaries of discovery and survey. Ernest Shackleton was at the forefront of this but it wasn’t until after the Nimrod Expedition which he led from 1907 to 1909 that he was able to write about it.

The Expedition, named after the aging ship, Nimrod, was short on funds, lacking experience and preparations were rushed.  Finally the difficulties were overcome and team were underway southwards. The main target was to be the first men to the South Pole. Once the team arrived in Antarctica there were a range of geographical and scientific objectives to be undertaken but there would be long periods of inactivity due to the season and weather. However, Shackleton had put some thought to what the team could do in the long dark winter months.  He took along a printing press with which all the members of the Expedition wrote a book, Aurora Australis.

 

The challenges of writing, illustration, printing and binding this work in the frigid temperatures cannot be overstated and became the first book published in Antarctica. Published at ‘The Sign of the Penguin’ (Cape Royds) the extreme cold meant the printing ink became thick and difficult to work.  It can be imagined that to include maps in this work would just be too difficult. However, about one hundred of these volumes were produced and bound by another expedition member, Bernard Day, using recycled horse harnesses and Venesta boards from the packing cases.

Each copy retains stenciling indicating the provisions packed in that case which gives each copy a name.  The lettering on the Bodleian’s copy is “Kidneys”.

An Australian member of Nimrod Expedition, Douglas Mawson, created the maps of the expedition from surveys he and other members undertook. A geologist at the University of Adelaide by profession, he was ideally placed to do this work.

The maps show the Expedition’s Winter Quarters at McMurdo Sound, Cape Royds, and their routes on land and ice.  The style of the maps is attractively spare but almost illustrative. Printed in colour, the depiction of relief is mainly pictorially stippled with the names of the features are a mixture between prosaic (Brown Island, Snow Valley) and commemorational such as Mount Evans, Mount Doorly, both named by Captain Scott during the earlier Discovery Expedition after colleagues. Also notice the Royal Society Range – it’s always good to keep your sponsors onside. The routes show the first ever ascent of Mount Erebus, the second highest volcano in Antarctica, and the route southwards. It is poignant that the route stops not at the South Pole but at the map edge, dated “16.1.09 Lat. 72° 25’ Long. 155° 16’.”. However, this was the furthest south anyone had reached at that time.

 

The maps were drawn once the party returned to England and were issued in The heart of the Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton which was published in 1909 as a weighty two volume work.

The heart of the Antarctic  2036 d.17,18

Aurora Australis Broxb. 51.14