Archive for the 'Social History' category

Bartholomew, Biscuits and the First World War

Posted 24 January, 2014 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

As the Project that brings you these posts is due to end in March of this year, I wanted to share with you, whilst I can, some of the more unexpected items I have found in the Printing Record from the First World War.

Like many of us perhaps, my understanding of this brutal conflict is largely derived from the jerky black and white film footage of the trenches and No Man’s Land and the haunting poetry of the time. So, imagine my surprise to discover that for some, this War was also something of a marketing opportunity.

cracker map advertisinf

This attractive item was printed by Bartholomew on 24th November, 1916 for the Leith and Liverpool-based biscuit manufacturer, William Crawford & Sons, Ltd. However, it was not the first thing Bartholomew printed for Crawford; some two years earlier they printed this map.

cracker map.1

Bartholomew printed 50,000 copies of this map on 8th September, 1914. It is a fairly standard Bartholomew map of Europe but repurposed here as advertising for Crawford’s Cream Crackers and branded as ‘Crawford’s War Map’. There’s even room for a little boasting about their biscuits.

cracker map logo

However, it would be entirely unfair to Crawfords to suggest that they alone exploited this opportunity, as another item printed by Bartholomew proves.

carcker map soap

Yes, Sunlight Soap were at it too with Bartholomew producing 25,000 copies of this map on 21 October, 1914.

That maps such as these exist certainly surprised me but perhaps they begin to make sense when considered in context. The Crawford map was published only five weeks after the official outbreak of the War and the Sunlight map came six weeks later. Both maps, then, were produced very early on in the War, a period typically characterised by the belief the War would be ‘over by Christmas’ and volunteering to sign up was still prevalent. So, rather than cynically exploiting the War perhaps these maps reveal something of the confidence that was felt during the first few weeks of the conflict. I find this an interesting perspective. With our benefit of hindsight we can only ever perceive the First World War with the burden of knowing how it unfolded and the horrors that were to come. It is easy to forget that this wasn’t the case for those who lived through it. The tragedy we attach to the First World War sits in stark contrast with the enthusiasm, naivety and matter-of-fact-ness of those who were entering the unknown, a bit of which is captured in maps like these.

The Automobile Association Map of England and Wales

Posted 22 March, 2013 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

On the 25th August, 1939, John Bartholomew and Son printed 10,347 copies of their ‘Automobile Association Map of England and Wales’. As far as maps go, I think it’s fair to say it’s not exactly anything to write home about. Stripped away of any extraneous information, beyond the roads themselves, the strictly black and white map is rather clinical, resembling a diagram of the human circulatory system.

Automobile map

Whilst undoubtedly of interest to some, I fear this map would make for a somewhat uninspiring blog article, so luckily for me, things really pick up when you turn the map over.

The reverse of this map is devoted to at-length descriptions of the Automobile Association, and the assorted benefits of membership. Perhaps the one we are most familiar with is the patrol service, providing motorists with assistance in their hour of need. In 1939, the service looked like this.

Automobile patrol

The accompanying text informs readers that the road patrol service is the first of its kind in the world, with officers patrolling on motorbikes with side cars, or pedal cycles. Equipped with tools, petrol and a fire extinguisher, they were surely well armed to tackle any emergency.

Of course, in a time where mobile telephones were possibly beyond the realms of any imagination, contacting the patrol might have been a tricky business. But not so, as the AA proudly provided its members with access to roadside telephone boxes.

Automobile roadside

In truth, a lot of care and attention appears to have gone into this service, with phone boxes specifically located on main roads where telephones were scare or on roads described as ‘passing through lonely areas’. The telephone boxes were all fitted with an identical lock, and AA membership included a key, to allow members access to this invaluable communication link. A card inside included details of the nearest AA approved garages as well as those of local hotels, doctors and the nearest ambulance service. Although local calls were free of charge, an honesty box operated for those making trunk or toll calls.

One thing I hadn’t realised the AA took charge of was road signage, but this is yet another service proudly boasted about on the reverse of the map.

Automobile signs

The text says, ‘In the early days of motoring, many of the signposts – where they existed – were in a more or less dilapidated condition’. From 1907, the AA undertook to improve the situation by installing their own signposts. By 1939, this totalled over 100,000.

Then finally, something that really was a revelation to me, the AA’s aviation department.

Automobile aviation

Launched in 1928, this department worked in collaboration with the Royal Aero Club, to provide aviators with ‘extensive air touring facilities’. This included their Air Route Maps, another type of map publication which Bartholomew printed.

To end, another interesting point of note; just seven days after this map was printed, Germany invaded Poland, leading to the start of the Second World War.

Map compilation at Bartholomew

Posted 30 October, 2012 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

On the 7 December, 2012, our exhibition of Bartholomew Archive material will open in our George IV Bridge building. Putting Scotland on the Map: The World of John Bartholomew and Son will explore the techniques and processes by which Bartholomew brought their maps to life. By way of a little teaser, I would like to give you a small glimpse into the complex world of map compilation.

Photo of draughtsmen 1895

This photograph shows Bartholomew’s draughtsman in their Park Road office. It was taken in 1895 but it shows people performing tasks which, in many respects, changed little for the next 50 to 60 years.

Some map publishers, such as Ordnance Survey, conduct ground or aerial surveys to gather the information they need for their maps. Bartholomew gathered the information that they needed via a process called compilation. Compilation is where the draughtsman’s role began. This was but one of the many elements to the draughtsman’s role, which made it one of the most specialist positions in the firm.

Alex Williamson

Draughtsmen had a lot of different resources to hand when it came to compiling information. Bartholomew kept a vast collection of reference maps and atlases produced by their competitors such as Ordnance Survey. Although Bartholomew did not plagiarize these works, studying the maps of others could reveal changes to natural and man-made features that Bartholomew might chose to incorporate into their own maps. They also kept a large collection of newspaper clippings. Whenever a story touched upon a pertinent subject, such as the building of a new road, the demolition of a bridge or the redrawing of an international boundary, Bartholomew would cut out and keep the story for future reference. This article, which details the post-war changes to London following the Blitz, is a poignant example.

Times, 27 July 1944

But by far the biggest source of information was the vast amount of correspondence sent to Bartholomew every day. In some cases members of the public would volunteer information, sometimes including a hand-drawn map of their own, or an annotated clipping from one of Bartholomew’s maps. In other cases the relationship was more formal. This is perhaps best demonstrated by Bartholomew’s relationship with the Cyclist’s Touring Club.

The Cyclist’s Touring Club (CTC) was founded in 1878 and by the end of the 1890s boasted membership figures of close to 60,500. This then was a desirable market for Bartholomew, as CTC members actively sought useful, accurate and cycle friendly maps for their excursions. In 1898 John George Bartholomew (the firm’s director at the time) sought to capitalise on this market and wrote to the CTC’s Secretary with a proposal. Bartholomew would supply the CTC with discounted half inch maps but in return they requested that CTC members supplied the firm with up to date information. The benefit was therefore twofold; Bartholomew acquired a ready market for their maps but also, an army of thousands of people who toured the country and passed on information, for free, which the firm could then use to ensure their maps remained accurate. Although much of this correspondence is formal and business-like, some correspondents were a little more forthright, as this letter from 1915 demonstrates.

20 August 1915

Bartholomew derived similar information from local surveyors, town planners, planning departments and other like agencies, complementing the information they received from members of the public.

Once this information had been collected the draughtsmen would either update a base map, or draw a new map from scratch and the next stage of the draughtsman’s work would begin.

If you would like to know what happened next, why not pop by the National Library of Scotland and visit Putting Scotland on the Map: The World of John Bartholomew and Son, a free exhibition open from 7 December 2012-7 May 2013.

Images © permission of Collins Bartholomew

John Bartholomew Junior in the USA

Posted 14 September, 2012 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

This instalment of the countdown to our Bartholomew Archive exhibition turns its attention to the personal. The Bartholomew Archive is extraordinarily rich when it comes to reconstructing the production processes of John Bartholomew and Son, but it is no less rich when it comes to illuminating personal stories too.

John Bartholomew Junior (1831-1893) was the third generation of the Bartholomew family to take up engraving as a profession. John Junior benefited from the good reputation that his father and grandfather had earned for their skill and professionalism. He was thus able to build on this reputation and did so initially through a prestigious apprenticeship with the German geographer August Petermann (1822–78). Petermann came to Britain with new ideas and techniques and would go on to be appointed Physical Geographer and Engraver in Stone to the Queen. This small but significant detail laid the foundations for the great success the firm would go on to enjoy because in John Junior’s hands, the small engraving concern became a major engraving and printing house.

In 1885, John Junior and his travelling companion, Andrew McDonald, undertook a 22,886 mile, three month journey around North America. The principal aims of the trip were to foster new business connections and to gather information, and John Junior travelled with at least two endorsements to this end.

letter of recomendation by edinburghs merchants co

But it wasn’t all business and John Junior had many an opportunity to indulge in sightseeing and pleasure cruises. Mementoes from this trip even include two pressed flowers that John Junior picked at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. More examples of the colourful and interesting remnants of the trip can be seen below.

milwaukee lake postcard

No matter where he was on this mammoth tour, John Junior’s diary reveals that he couldn’t resist comparing almost everything that he saw to the more familiar landscapes of his native Scotland. So, for example, certain stretches of the Mississippi were “something like the width of the Clyde”, Telegraph Hill in San Francisco “looks as steep as the Calton Hill” and the Green River was compared to the Tay at Perth.

The trip can be considered a success if evidence from the firm’s Printing Record can be relied upon. At around this time there appears to be a marked increase in the orders Bartholomew received from North American publishing firms, including T Ellwood Zell and J B Lippincott. However, the trip was almost scuppered.

John Junior travelled from Liverpool on the S. S. “Germanic” on the 2 April 1885. The ship landed at Queenstown the next day. It collected some 300 sacks of mail then embarked again for the crossing of the Atlantic, heading to New York. The weather was set fair but on the night of the 3rd a storm set in. The storm lasted all of the next day and whilst John Junior “supposed this to be the usual experience of an Atlantic voyage” he couldn’t help but note that “the thundering of the waves against the ship was something awful”. It got worse. “At 10.30 there was a tremendous crash, a greater wave than the others having thundered over the vessel, carrying away 7 boats, 2 steam cranes…rails, deckchairs and everything movable on deck. One seaman was washed overboard and lost. The water rushed in torrents through the breach in the recreation room…then passed along the passages and into the passengers cabins, setting afloat books, shoes, boxes…About 13.00 Greenwich time an officer came round and began to screw down the iron shutters over the port hole windows…he said that the Captain had given orders to turn the ship and all the port holes had to be screwed down in case the windows would be broken and the sea burst into her broadside. This was not very comforting and we anxiously waited for the critical period to be passed”. The experience must have been terrifying. However, on the 7 April, five days after leaving Liverpool, the “Germanic” safely docked back into Queenstown harbour. John Junior later discovered that “the “Germanic” was 540 miles west of Queenstown when she encountered the wave, and that the cost of the accident to the White Star Line was £25,000″. This would equate to many millions of pounds in today’s money. Three days later, John Junior and Andrew set sail again, this time aboard the “Adriatic” and this time they made it to New York.

white starline passenger list cover

There are many more personal stories to be found in the Bartholomew Archive, some of them profoundly significant, some of them comical and some of them tragic. Join us from December-May to discover more of the personal stories of the Bartholomew firm and their amazing staff.

The Building of an Institution

Posted 13 August, 2012 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

The second instalment of our Bartholomew Archive Exhibition tasters looks back at one of the firm’s most recognisable premises – Duncan Street.

dsphoto1

John George Bartholomew (1860-1920) moved his firm to Duncan Street in 1911. This was the fourth premises that John George would have been able to remember. He recalled the hustle and bustle of North Bridge, Bartholomew’s first commercial premises, which he experienced as a very small child. He undertook his apprenticeship at the firm’s next and first independent premises (North Bridge was shared) on Chambers Street. Then, as head of the firm, in 1889 he moved with the company to their biggest premises yet, on Park Road.

Park Road was an unhappy home for John George. Problems arose not so much because of the building, but because of the terms in which it was taken. Park Road was built by the publisher Thomas Nelson, who in 1888 entered into partnership with Bartholomew. For reasons we may never fully understand, John George found this partnership difficult. One explanation is that in order to pay Nelson back Bartholomew essentially acted as Nelson’s indentured printing concern. Perhaps it was the belief that this would curtail his freedom that troubled the imaginative and ambitious John George.

plan

After twenty years at Park Road, John George began to plan his future, free from Nelson, in Duncan Street. This sketch by John George, of the Duncan Street building superimposed over a print of Park Road, perhaps reveals something of a man happy to be moving on.

Work began on Duncan Street in 1909 and by 1911 Bartholomew were moving in. The Bartholomew Archive is extremely lucky to have photographs of Duncan Street under construction. They are a little murky but they will show you this building in a way that few who are alive today will have seen it before.

photo11

photo22

photo33

The Archive goes even further than this and contains some extremely detailed information about this building. One item, a building abstract, shows us how much each element cost and the name of the firm that was contracted to do it. So, for example, we know that the roof slater was R. Kidd and that the cost was £251.10s. 5d (about £20,000 today).

building2

Bartholomew celebrated the move with a flurry of promotional material, which of course included a map or two.

map1

John George must surely have felt that Duncan Street was a home from home. And in fact, this is more true than it might seem. John George and his family had enjoyed many happy years in an Edinburgh home called Falcon Hall. Before this building was demolished, John George had the entire front portico taken down and rebuilt as the entrance to Duncan Street. Compare this picture of Falcon Hall below with that of Duncan Street above.

falconhall1

The firm stayed at Duncan Street until 1995, which marks almost 200 years of a Bartholomew business in Edinburgh.

This is but a wee snippet of the tale of Duncan Street, which we will explore in much more detail in our December 2012 to May 2013 exhibition, here at the National Library of Scotland. We look forward to seeing you there!

Countdown to Bartholomew Archive exhibition

Posted 6 July, 2012 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

We are in the midst of preparing for a major exhibition of Bartholomew Archive material, due to run from December 2012-April 2013 (I will pass on dates when I have them).

The exhibition will focus on map production techniques at Bartholomew as seen through the eyes of its highly skilled staff and directed by its colourful managers. The exhibition will follow the life story of Bartholomew maps from the compilation of source material, to hand-made ‘graving tools, to the noise of the printing room floor. Visitors will have the chance to meet one of Bartholomew’s most influential characters, John George Bartholomew; to enter the upside down and back to front world of the copperplate engravers before reflecting on the ways in which modern technology may have altered our relationship with maps.

The exhibition affords us the opportunity to display some of the key treasures of the John Bartholomew collection of rare and antiquarian atlases as well as some of the unique manuscript maps that can be found in the Bartholomew Archive.

To mark the occasion, each month until December this blog will focus on items that directly reflect the theme of the exhibition. This month the focus is Bartholomew’s premises on Park Road.

draughtsman room

The firm of John Bartholomew moved to Park Road in 1889. It was arguably the pivotal point in the firm’s history. Between 1888-89, John George Bartholomew (1860-1920) took control of the firm from his father John Bartholomew Junior (1831-93); the firm went into partnership for the first time in its history with the publisher Thomas Nelson, becoming John Bartholomew and Co.; they moved to their first ever purpose built premises and they restyled themselves the Edinburgh Geographical Institute. This sequence of events was to have a profound affect on the future fortunes of what had hitherto been a relatively modest printing and engraving concern.

machine room

Thomas Nelson (an Edinburgh firm of even greater age than Bartholomew) built Park Road, with Bartholomew paying them back via rent, as well of course, via printing work. John George was never enthusiastic about partnerships and there are telling snippets in the archive about his dissatisfaction. In perhaps the most stark comment he privately reflects that he is,

“Determined to end the T. N. [Thomas Nelson] partnership at any cost. To continue would mean ruin to the business and a breakdown on my part – It is impossible to work with so much unpleasant friction & jealousy”

Relief finally came in 1911 when John George removed his beloved Edinburgh Geographical Institute to their most famous home on Duncan Street.

litho room

There were positives and negatives to working at Park Road. On the negative side was the attraction that the building appeared to have for rats. A former employee recalled,

“They [the rats] seldom appeared in the day time but one day, when we were all busy at work, one of the draughtsmen jumped up and knocked over his stool with a great clatter. Next we saw him standing with his hand behind his back clutching at the top of his trousers. A few moments afterwards he jerked out the back of his shirt and a dead rat fell out on the floor”

map mounting room

But on the other hand, its unusual floor plan did have some advantages,

“For weeks before the annual staff picnic there was practicing for the sports, the long corridor between the offices and the printing room being a favourite sprinting track”

There is far more to say about Park Road than can fit in a blog, so with appetites whetted, I look forward to seeing you in December!

floor plan

The Tufted Duck

Posted 3 February, 2012 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

On the 24 December, 1895, Bartholomew printed 675 copies of the Map of Scotland to Illustrate Mr Harvie Brown’s Paper on the Tufted Duck, 1896. This highly functional map is no looker, but it is yet one more example of the interesting use Bartholomew were asked (and keen) to make of maps.

tufted_duck_large

The Mr Harvie Brown named in the title was John Alexander Harvie Brown of Dunipace (1844-1916), a Scottish gentleman naturalist. As a man of independent means he has been described as ‘able to devote his life to the traditional highland laird pursuits with rod and gun and to ornithology’. These days this may be seen as rather pejorative but Harvie Brown was no ornithological light-weight. Amongst the accomplishments which may be credited to him are the first studies of bird migration to make use of lighthouse keeper’s records; the creation, ownership and joint editing of The Annals of Scottish Natural History (still in print as the Scottish Naturalist) and the receipt of numerous honorary awards and memberships of societies.

He was also a prolific author, on occasion going to extraordinary efforts to get material for pen to paper. Unquestionably, the most astonishing was that he built his own yacht, Shiantelle, on which he sailed the Scottish coast making observations. Such energetic escapades render all the more sad that at the end of his life, after extreme ill-health, he became confined to one room in his home and weighing 25 stone.

tufted_duck_key

Harvie Brown and John George Bartholomew had previosuly worked together on the extremely impressive  Naturalists Map of Scotland (1893). This was the sort of project that John George really felt passionate about. John George would later collaborate with another naturalist, Marcel Hardy, to produce the equally striking Botanical Survey of Scotland (1906).

tufted_duck_caithness

The scholarly work to which this map is the illustrative accompaniment is perhaps a little dry to my non-specialist mind so for me, it is the creativity behind this map that takes centre stage. It is perhaps useful to remember that using maps in this way was a social construct borne of imagination and at this time, a relatively new phenomenon.

tufted_duck_central

The International Map of the World

Posted 14 July, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

On the 31 March, 1910, Bartholomew printed a proof version of the ‘conventional signs and styles of type for the international map on the scale of 1:1,000,000′. But what exactly is the International Map of the World?

International Map proof conventions

The philosophy behind the idea reflected its late nineteenth century times. The venture was to be educational, edifying and essentially philanthropic; an international map of the world would ultimately benefit the common good of humanity.

The idea was proposed by German geographer and geologist, Albrecht Penck (1858-1945) during the 5th International Geographical Congress, held in Berne in 1891. There was a general feeling that the great period of exploration was coming to an end and that the time was right to consolidate the knowledge that had been gained. At its heart, Penck’s idea was simple - for the assorted national mapping agencies to work together to produce a map of the world, on a uniform scale, using common conventions and symbols.

international-map

A not inconsiderable time later, in November 1909, Penck’s idea finally began to creep closer to realisation. An Inaugural Conference was held, formally establishing the International Map Committee. Some 24 delegates met at the Conference, representing 11 nations. The United Kingdom contingent consisted of Lieutenant-Colonel C. F. Close, Head of the GSGS, Colonel S.C.N. Grant, Director General of  Ordnance Survey and Dr J. Scott Keltie, Secretary of the RGS.

international-map.1jpg

Bartholomew may have lacked a presence on this committee but they were nevertheless called upon to produce the proof, and later the final copy, of the conventions and symbols that the International Map Committee had agreed upon.

The proof copy is slightly quirky, incidentally showing some of the pitfalls that could befall even Bartholomew during the printing process, but by the final copy the lines were straight, the problems fixed.

international-map.3jpg

History shows us that the International Map of the World was not to be. Essentially, it proved too difficult for these agencies to collaborate effectively, the final straw coming when the United States abandoned the project and decided to go it alone. However, fragments such as this proof serve to remind us what might have been.

Just for fun, the conventional symbols for assorted landscape features are shown below. Can you identify them? Answers on a postcard!

international-map.5jpg

Let’s go to Scotland, the holiday paradise

Posted 19 May, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

On the 24 June, 1909, Bartholomew printed 20,400 copies of the Caledonian Railway Tourist Map. It is a handsome map with a pleasingly warm tone but what sets it apart is the superlative advertising that is printed on the reverse.

The twin demons of overseas travel, being expense and environmental ethics, have placed holidaying within the United Kingdom firmly back on the side of acceptable. Therefore, the remarkable assertions of this advertising somehow resonate with a modern audience, perhaps more than they might have done twenty years ago.

The advertising emphasises the benefits of the open air, the memories that you will keep, the promotion of travelling by public transport and not least of all, the overall frugality.

There is even a modern equivalent of the “Duchess of Argyll”, a sleek and nippy looking steam ship; the “Waverley” ferries enthusiastic time travellers down the Clyde from Glasgow to this day. Maybe recreating the experience of visitors in 1909 isn’t quite as hard as one might suppose.

The Emerald Isle Album of Dublin

Posted 11 March, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

The Emerald Isle Album series consisted of eleven albums of photographs with descriptive text of assorted interesting places in Ireland. On the 25 June, 1897,Bartholomew printed 5,148 covers and maps for The Emerald Isle Album of the City & County of Dublin.

This ornate cover bespeaks of the general quality this publication aspired to. It positively oozes class. Indeed, the photographs contained within were of a type known as Platinotype, or Platinum Prints, regarded as providing the greatest tonal range of any chemical photographic process. An example of one of these albums, The Emerald Isle Album of Cork, Blarney & Queenstown can be found on the Fáilte Romhat website.

Whilst the cover demonstrates Bartholomew’s deftness with colour and technique it is probably the map which attracted the publisher who commissioned the work, William Strain & Son of Belfast, to them. In true Bartholomew style a pre-existing map was re-purposed for this publication, expediting the job and keeping down the cost. Indeed, the cost for printing 5,148 copies of cover and map was a surprising £7,10,0 or a paltry £631 by today’s standards.

In its sepia tone it is quite an unusual look for a Bartholomew map, although it retains the clarity that you would expect to see. But there is something old-fashioned about the look and feel of these items, even though they were capturing contemporary Dublin life. Could it be that this was a conscious effort to capture for one last time a world that was rapidly drawing to a close?