Pepys and the Navy

pepysThis map, dated 1686, is the work of Capt. Greenville Collins, Hydrographer to Charles II. Between 1681 and 1688 Collins surveyed the coast of Britain, eventually bringing out an atlas based on this work, Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot; being a new and exact survey of the sea coasts of England, Scotland, and the chief harbours of Ireland… in 1693. This work, which was the first proper survey of the whole coastline, proved to be sufficiently accurate to be still used over a hundred years later. While some were critical of Collins’s maps considering the limitations imposed on survey work of the time they are remarkably accurate, as can be seen in comparison with a later Admiralty Chart of the area published in 1876 (Collins’s map is aligned with west at the top). The tools available to Collins were measuring chains, compasses and lead lines for measuring depths, all of which should ideally be used on a flat and stable surface, things hard to come by on board ship. Navigators on ship would use the lines radiating out from the compass rose (the arrow on a compass rose indicates north) and other points as well as the leading mark lines, which are aligned with prominent landmarks, to find safe passage around a coastal region with numerous hazards; sand-banks, rocks and narrow channels are an obvious example on the map. The numbers are soundings, showing the depth of water at given points.

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Extract from England – East Coast, Harwich approaches, Published at the Admiralty 3rd June 1876. Sheet 2025.cartouche pepys

Admiralty charts such as the example here were first published in the early 1800s and continue to be published to this day. They make up the greatest part of the yearly intake of maps into the Bodleian.

The map, as well as being an important example of an early Naval chart, is also of interest due to the dedication in the cartouche. The map is dedicated to Samuel Pepys, who was made Secretary to the Admiralty in 1673, four years after deciding to end his diary writing after concerns about his eyesight.

 

The cartouche is richly decorated in the style of the time, with fish, shells and a lobster to highlight the nautical theme of the map while the two figures above the dedication by Collins to Pepys are putti. Often winged these chubby children represent here the surveying work that went into the creating of the map, evidence of which is shown amongst the fish and shells.

 

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

River Thames from its source to the sea

A recently purchased map arrived in the Map Room this week for us IMG_0041all to pore over.  The River Thames from its source to the sea was produced at a time when the Thames was enjoying an explosion of interest as a source of leisure.  Small boats were available for hire at towns such as Oxford, Reading and Windsor, locations which were now conveniently in reach of the railway travelling public.

 

This beautifully executed map was compiled and engraved by Edward Weller to be issued as an insert to the popular newspaper the Weekly Dispatch and subsequently included in The Dispatch Atlas published early in 1863. It is the first state of nine states which were finally produced in the next thirty six years. Weller was one of the first to produce maps using lithography, a cheaper method of production than the more traditional intaglio printing.  After his death in 1884 these steel plates were acquired by the firm of Cassell, Petter and Galpin. The Cassell’s Complete Atlas was issued in 1865, and as Cassell’s British Atlas with the addition of statistical information.016

 

 

The map shows the whole length of the river from the Thames Head, marked, west ofCirencester to the estuarine mud flats at Southend, in three strip maps at a scale of half and inch to 1 mile (1:126,720).  The minimal but precise hand colouring of just the county outlines is still bright and adds definition to the map without taking away from the very fine detail.  The railways, including the recently built Epsom line are shown by double cross hatched lines.

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The River Thames from its source to the sea. London : Weekly Dispatch Atlas [1863] C17:8 (380)

 

Oxford Bus & Cycle Map

Bus & Cycle map cover

Many Bodleian Library staff commute by bicycle and a number are keen cyclists, so the arrival of a new edition of the Oxford Bus & Cycle Map was greeted with enthusiasm in the Map Room, especially the side of it showing cycle routes. The map was produced by Richard Mann of Transport Paradise, whose site offers advice on improving urban transport with examples from Oxford and elsewhere. The cycle map is an innovative product in that it attempts to show two complete cycle networks. A quieter one (suitable for family and leisure cycling) is shown in blue, with routes through quiet streets or away from the roads altogether, through parks and beside the river. Meanwhile the main cycle commuter routes are shown in red; a complete, joined up network, with dotted lines to identify those parts of it where cycle provision is poorer, rather than a patchy network of good cycle routes – a pragmatic approach, since the cyclist will have to find a way even when it is less than ideal. An extract showing the city centre is shown below.

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The clever design of the bus map on the reverse does a good job of unscrambling Oxford’s sometimes confusing bus route network. Four colours – red, blue, green and yellow – are used to group the main routes, to make it easier to follow them visually through the concentration of routes in the city centre. The frequency of services is indicated by solid, dashed or dotted lines.

Oxford’s centre is constantly busy, thronged with crowds of students, tourists and locals. Travelling into it by car is slow and parking is expensive. Use this map instead!

Oxford bus & cycle map. Oxford: Transport Paradise, 2015. C17:70 Oxford (249)

A Christmas mystery

A set of four maps of the Jura region of France came into the Map Office recently, dating from 1844. The maps are fine, in black and white with relief shown in hachures and when joined together measure nearly two metres by one and a half. The mystery comes in the folder they came in.

Stuck onto the inside cover are two photographs, one of a city scene in what looks like Eastern or Central Europe while the second shows a woman, named Katia Wolkoff. Does anyone recognize the city? If so email maps@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, we’re keen to find out.

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When the name Katia Wolkoff is googled you get an extract from the Daily News from September 1920. John Maladoff of Tiflis, passing himself off as a Military Attache in Italy, accompained by ‘a beautiful Russian Woman, Katia Cocenko Wolkoff’ after giving faked letters of introduction manage to first of all to befriend and then rob and defraud a number of wealthy families in Milan, before making good their escape. Could this be the same Katia is in our photograph?

Many thanks to those who have replied to give us an answer to our question. The city in the picture is Lübeck in Germany.

 

Recycling

Paper shortages during the Second World War meant that large numbers of maps were re-used to produce new sheets on the backs of older copies. While for the most part this meant that cartographic departments of various armies, the Geographical Section General Staff for the British and the Generalstab des Heeres for the Germans amongst others, would use old stock from their collections towards the end of the war Allied forces began to capture large areas of land formly occupied by Axis troops, and with this also captured large amounts of enemy resources, including maps.

With the push into Germany starting in late 1944 the need for large scale detailed mapping of the country became clear, and this is one of the sheets produced by the G.S.G.S. at 1:25,000 scale. The example here is one of a set of over 2,500 sheets.

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But what marks this sheet out from all the others is what is on reverse. When you turn the map over you find, overprinted with thick blue lines and the word ‘Cancelled’, is part of a map which made up a series made by the German Army in preparation for the planned invasion of England in 1941. With perfect symmetry you have an map for the invasion of Germany printed by the British War Office printed on the back of part of a sheet published 3 years before by the Germany Army for the invasion of Britain.

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Germany 1:25,000. Geographical Section, General Staff No. 4414. Published in 1945 by the War Office. C22 (15a), sheet 1321.

 

Ships

Many maps from the late sixteenth century feature ships and sea monsters in and on the oceans. With a large amount of surface taken up by water cartographers used these images as an embellishment to make the map more attractive, but there are other reasons for such decoration; at the time many people believed in the existence of such creatures so to feature

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monsters from the deep would be as natural as portarying an Elephant in Africa, while the opening up of trade with foreign lands and voyages of discovery made sea travel an important part of late Medieval and Tudor times.

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This recent addition to the Bodleian collection, Britannicarum Insularum… by Abraham Ortelius,

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has in its top left corner one of the more dramatic images of shipping to be found amongst the maps held. In a cloud of smoke and explosion a sea battle takes place as a smaller ship advances, firing from the bow and flying what appears to be a flag of Denmark.

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Abraham Ortelius was a Flemish cartographer who started publishing maps and atlases in 1564, this map comes from an atlas of ancient and classical history called the Parergon, and shows the British Isles with British tribes and Roman features, including both Hadrian’s and the Antonine

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Walls and was published in 1590. This would date the map to the time of the Spanish Armada, which set sail in 1588. As the Spanish fleet rounded the North coast of Scotland and started to sail down past Ireland fierce storms sunk many of the ships, though there was no battle of the type depicted on Ortelius’s map.

Britannicarum Insularen Vetus Descriptio…, 1590. Ortelius, A. (E) C15 (971)

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This image of a sea-horse off the coast of Iceland comes from a lavishily illustrated copy of Abraham Oretlius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published in London in 1606. The sea-horse is described as ‘often dothe fisherman great hurt and skare’. The picture of the Mermaid holding the flag of the Isle of Man at the start of this piece also comes from Ortelius.

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Kiel Canal, flags and naval expansion

To mark the opening of the Kiel Canal in June 1895 Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German Government held a regatta at the entrance to the canal, and invited representatives from the nations whose flags, pennants and ensigns are shown in the panel on the right of the map featured here, including Britain, Spain, France, the United States and Italy, to take part.

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The map shows the ships of the different nations lying at anchor in the Kiel Fjord. Those with crowned heads of state onboard are indicated by the large crown symbol, ships with lesser members of royalty by a smaller crown.

The Kiel Canal is an important link between the Baltic and North Seas, and when completed enabled German ships to move between the two without making the long and often stormy passage around the coast of Denmark. Two years after the 1895 celebrations Germany began to enlarge its navy. By 1905 it had replaced the navies of both France and Russia as the benchmark in which the strength of the British navy was measured. By 1912 Admiral Tirpitz, Head of the German Naval Office, ‘insisted that Germany could not fight a war at sea until the widening of the Kiel Canal was completed’. In 1914 the canal was widened to finally be able to allow the passage of Dreadnought battleships through from the Baltic to the North Sea.

Der Kieler Hafen - 1895

This map, ‘Der Kieler Hafen : mit den ankerplätzen der zur feierlichen eröffnung des Nord-Ostsee-kanals im Juni 1895 in Kiel anwesenden kriegsschiffe’ was published in 1895 at a scale of  ca.1:20,000 by Lipsius & Tischer in Kiel. The shelf mark for the map is C22:28 (74).

Flies

Maps showing the spread of disease first appeared in the United States towards the end of the 1700s and used spots to showing the location of individual cases of disease. The most famous example of such a map was created by John Snow, in his book On the mode of Communication in Cholera (1855). Originally published in 1849, this later edition dealt with a notorious outbreak of cholera in the Soho district of London the previous year, which killed 616 people.

The Bodleian holds a similar map by Dr H. Acland and shows the outbreaks in 1832, 1849 and 1854 of cholera in the St Clements and St Ebbe’s areas of Oxford. By mapping the deaths in London and Oxford Acland and Snow were able to show that all shared a common link, the local water pump, proving how water was the medium through which cholera spread which as a result improved the sanitation in many areas of poor and working class housing.

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Map of Oxford, to illustrate Dr. Acland’s Memoir on cholera in Oxford in 1854, : showing the localities in which cholera & choleraic diarrhœa occurred in 1854, and cholera in 1832 & 1849; together with the parts of the town described as unhealthy, by Omerod, Greenhill & Allen, and a writer in the Oxford Herald; the parts remedied since the date of their descriptions; the districts still undrained; the parts of the river still contaminated by sewers, in 1855.                                                                               C17:70 Oxford (15)

Among the many maps showing disease in the collection are a number showing the spread of Tsetse Flies in Central and Southern Africa. Tsetse flies feed on the blood of cattle, which has serious consequences for the lives of farmers in the regions were the flies are wide-spread, as infected animals produce little or no milk, their manure is too weak to fertilize already poor soil and the bites can often lead to the death of the animal. Tsetse Flies also cause sleeping sickness in humans, which can lead to disability or premature death.

Featured here are extracts from two maps. Both show the spread of the Tsete Fly, and are of Zambia and an area of Africa which was called German East Africa up till the end of the First World War, and now covers Burundi, Rwanda and a large part of Tanzania.

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(Reverse of) The Republic of Zambia, Tsetse Fly Distribution, 1968. Ministry of Lands and Mines, Zambia. E43 (200)

Both are conventional thematic maps showing the spread of the flies by shading. What is different from other disease maps in the collection is that both feature proment images of the Tsetse Fly.

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German East Fly Map, 1915, Published by Topographical Section, General Staff, South Africa.     E11 (217)

Both images bring to mind the picture of the fly from Robert Hooke’s famous book Micrographia,

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first published in 1665. Hooke’s work was the first book to show insects and other minute objects as seen through microscopes and also the first published work to use the term cells.

 

 

 

Planning the Allied invasion of France.

The extracts of the two maps shown here are from a number of maps recently catalogued and added to the collection which were published by Allied Forces to help with the invasion of France, and feature coastal towns on both the North East and South West coast. Both sheets are from earlier published sets by the cartographic wing of the British Army, the Geographical Section, General staff which have been overprinted with additional information on enemy defences.

The Calais map is of particular interest. The defence information was added to the map as late as the 12th of September, just 13 days before the Allies attacked the town. Confirmed information is in blue, unconfirmed in red. Information was gathered from a number of sources, including aerial photogaphy and resistance work. Calais, along with other port towns on the North West coast of France and Belgium, had been heavily defended by the German Army, who believed that any invasion by Allied troops would be at this point.

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As well as the large amount of information on the front of the map further details are given on the reverse. As well as a full legend descriptions of defences are given in English and French and diagrams of gun emplacements, as shown here.

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The beauty of the Portolan

Portolan Charts are navigational aids used by seafarers from the thirteenth century through to the 1800’s, by which time Naval charts had begun to be produced, and published in number.  The majority of portolans are produced on vellum – an animal skin which has been scraped clean and then stretched out on a rack – with some charts attached to boards and folded. Printed charts begin to appear in the early 1500s. Naviagtion is by use of rhumb lines and compass points,  by taking readings of compass directions and speed to determine the course needed to be set.

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Page of portolan showing coasts of part of Britain, Ireland, France and Northern Spain

Portolans are often objects of great skill and beauty, and are an early and evocative record of the start of discovery by European explorers.  The images shown here are from the earliest Portolan in the Bodleian, dating from the early 1400’s.  This portolan is  drawn onto vellum and then backed onto a wooden board and shows, over seven charts, the areas of the Mediterranean Sea, the European Atlantic coast and the Black Sea.

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Page of portolan showing Italy and Sicily

Though the portolan gives no details of production it is believed to have been produced in Venice and came to the library in 1834 as part of the Douce collection.

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Front cover

Portolan charts are often heavily decorated. Ships sail the oceans, wonderful creatures inhabit the lands and some feature the Madonna and Child. Compass roses can often be very eleborate, sometimes including gold leaf in the design.

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Inside front cover showng Annunciation

While the charts featured in this portolan are not as decorated as later charts held in the Bodleian the cover, front and back inner sleeves are beautifully created works of art. The cover is a wooden board inlaid with ivory and coloured stone while the inner sleeve shows the Annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel telling Mary of the immaculate conception while the back features Saint Mark, patron Saint of Venice and Saint Paul.

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Inside back cover showing Saints Mark and Paul

The portolan was originally enclosed in a leather embossed slip-case, and would have been used by sailors navigating the seas and oceans shown on the maps. The portolan, leather case and notes are now housed separately in a specially made box.

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Front of slip-case

Items belonging to Francis Douce were donated to the Library after his death in 1834. Douce was for a time Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum so the Bodleian is lucky to have his collection of books, manuscripts and other items, numbering over 19,000 volumes.

Untitled book of seven portolans, early fifteenth century, possibly Venice. MS Douce 390