Archive for the 'Illustrations' category

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.

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.

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.

Isolation in Thought

Posted 8 April, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

Upon the commencement of John George Bartholomew’s tenure as director of John Bartholomew & Co. in 1888, there is a marked tendency towards the cartographic. The riotous miscellany which characterised earlier times was replaced by better and better mapping. However, there are always exceptions to this rule, with the subject of this entry being just such an exception.

On the 15 November, 1909, Bartholomew printed 260 copies of a diagram, tongue-twistingly entitled Isolation in Thought of the Antithetical Positions & Inter-Relations of the Forces of Nature Illustrating Synthetic Unity of World-Conception or Correlation of Physical Processes & Physical Functions in the Evolution of Substance and Spirit Based on the Principle of the Immutable Mean by Arthur Silva White.

So who was Arthur Silva White and what is the meaning of his diagram? It is perhaps natural to place Silva White amongst the number of the ‘now forgotten’ British philosophical corpus. Intriguingly however, this is certainly not the case.

Arthur Silva White (1859-1932) was the first Secretary, magazine Editor and key founder member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He is remembered in his obituary for his gift for language and his extensive knowledge of literature and geography. He had travelled widely, chiefly in diplomatic and official circles, and most especially in Africa. Other titles in his oeuvre include The Development of Africa (1892), The Expansion of Egypt under Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899) and On the Achievements of Scotsmen During the Nineteenth Century in the Fields of Geographical Exploration and Research (1889).

With credentials such as these it may come as no surprise that Silva White and John George Bartholomew were close friends. This friendship may go some way to explain the exception made by John George in terms of printing this highly non-cartographic item.

It is hard to say quite why Silva White produced something so far removed from his expertise. The work that this diagram was destined for, Logic of Nature: A Synthesis of Thought (1909), was privately printed and the limited run of 260 diagrams is suggestive of a project highly personal to Silva White as opposed to something intended for wider dissemination. Correspondence from Silva White to his old friend John George, sent in March 1909, reveals a man who is desperately keen to seek a more fulfilling life by following humbler pursuits. For five years Silva White had been Assistant Secretary to the British Association for the Advancement of Science but in this letter he writes that he has “chucked it in” and was thinking of starting a rose farm, despite knowing “nothing of rose-farming”. This is not to say that these events necessarily influenced Logic of Nature but nevertheless, the letter reveals glimpses of a man keen to express himself in new and startling ways.

So what of the diagram itself? Sadly the National Library of Scotland does not appear to hold a copy of Logic of Nature* but we do have a review, printed in Nature, volume 83 (1910). Luckily for me it corroborates my initial and continuing impressions of this diagram (and by extension the work), being that it is extremely complicated and nigh on impossible to understand. The review reads thus, ‘This is an attempt to “outline a system of thought by which unity of world-conception may be predicated”…the pamphlet…is very tough reading even for those who have spent much time and thought on the subject. The following “heads”, however, will suggest the general drift. There are four spheres or planes in the macrocosm: lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and ethersphere, which last-named is “the psychosphere of mind” – “the energy of thought”. Matter is the vehicle of energy. Intelligence is at the root of things; immanent Deity must be postulated. “Nature is the thinking-process of the God-head” – a striking and suggestive phrase…His conclusion is of course idealistic. “The ultimate reality of the sum of things cannot – so far as man is concerned – have existential import except in terms of thought; and therefore thought itself is the ultimate reality”. Perhaps in this there is a degree of concurrence and reference with the most famous philosophical statement of René Descartes “I think, therefore I am”.

The diagram is beautifully elegant, it hovers on the fringes of art; but the ideas that it conveys are extremely difficult. It seems to embody the culmination of fifty years of questioning and pondering and in so doing, illuminates an unexpected facet of a key member of the nineteenth century geographical cognoscenti.


*Update. Subsequent to the publication of this entry, a close relative of Silva White kindly donated a copy of Logic of Nature, to the Library. It can be found at this shelfmark, PB5.212.17/14.

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?

Touring Scotland with the Caledonian Railway

Posted 4 February, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

As the railway grew, its initial functional nature was eventually surpassed by one of luxury. Mere journeys became holidays, trips became tours and the manner of getting there became just as important as getting there itself.

A leaflet printed by Bartholomew on the 15 March, 1906, concerning The Caledonian Railway, West Coast Royal Route from and to England, encapsulates something of this spirit. It is lavishly coloured with an arresting and engaging cover, which easily draws the eye and begs for closer inspection. Those that couldn’t resist were treated to luxuriant descriptions of the route, the train, the life and to an extent the glamour of the journey, through extensive descriptions, illustrations and photographs.


However, I have a suspicion that the Royal allusion in the title of this leaflet is in fact nothing more than a reference to the Royal Mail. Earlier advertising for the same route (also in the Bartholomew Archive) refers more humbly to the London & North Western and Caledonian Railways West Coast Royal Mail Route. By strategically dropping “Mail” a whole new connotation is created, a whole new impression. Furthermore, it appears that this was deliberately done in order to tempt the most lucrative market of them all – Americans.

At this time, overseas travel for the mere purpose of pleasure was becoming more of a reality for increasing numbers of people, albeit still small numbers proportionally. The American market quickly established itself and in fact, to this day North American tourists are still the predominant group of overseas visitors to Scotland, at around one quarter of the total. With this in mind it is perhaps unsurprising that the Caledonian Railway also marketed some of its own hotels to this particular group. It is interesting to note the pride which they felt in the electric lighting that this hotel boasted.

Bartholomew’s Pocket Guides

Posted 10 December, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

Bartholomew periodically printed maps for the prodigiously popular Handbooks, produced by publisher John Murray, but occasionally they made a tentative foray into the lucrative guidebook market themselves. Bartholomew’s Pocket Guide to Melrose, Abbotsford etc. is amongst the first of such publications in a genre which, in spite of its obvious connection with place and mapping, was never fully embraced by Bartholomew.

This diminutive book was written by John George Bartholomew’s friend Ralph Richardson (1845-1933). The first edition was published in 1892, although the images in this entry were printed by Bartholomew on the 13 March, 1908 (2563 copies). By profession, Richardson was a solicitor, but he indulged a private love for geography and geology. He not only published numerous articles on these themes but was also one of the founder members of the (Royal) Scottish Geographical Society, established in 1884.

The preface to the book reveals that “The following little Guide was originally prepared for the Excursion to the ‘Land of Scott’ of the British Association for the Advancement of Science”. However, with the inclusion of driving, walking and cycling routes, the Pocket Guide was born. Richardson’s effusive style of writing is highly engaging and all in all it is quite a charming little book.

The text is supported by some nice maps and some very pretty illustrations, which include Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford and Melrose and Dryburgh Abbeys. The practicalities of Bartholomew book publishing are a little complicated but essentially, Bartholomew appear to have produced the cover, illustrations, advertising and maps with another company, presumably more au fait with typesetting, producing the text.

With their eye always on the look out for capitalising on a canny opportunity, the closing refrain from the Pocket Guide is a large piece of advertising for Bartholomew’s half-inch maps of Scotland.

But for me, the gems of this book are the illustrations so I shall leave you with a glimpse into Scott’s Abbotsford hallway.

The Victoria History of the Counties of England

Posted 8 October, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

The formidable reference work, mentioned in the title of this post, describes itself as the greatest publishing project in English local history. To date, 240 volumes have been published, but the work is ongoing. Each volume tackles themes such as archaeology and social & economic history making use of a wide range of cartography to support these themes.

Bartholomew first began printing for this series in 1901, with a set of maps for the History of Norfolk, the History of Surrey and the History of Worcestershire. The Victoria History was founded in 1899, meaning that Bartholomew’s expertise was evidently called upon from the very beginning.

Bartholomew did not supply maps alone however, two examples from the Printing Record, produced for the History of Surrey, reveal their mastery over colour and precision being made excellent use of to produce architectural plans.

Waverley Abbey is notable for being the first Cistercian Abbey in England, founded in 1128 by William Gifford, the Bishop of Winchester. It fell prey to the dissolution and was suppressed in 1536, but by this time, it was already substantially diminished.

Farnham Castle is another Surrey landmark, and is within close proximity to Waverley Abbey. It was constructed around 1138, during the reign of King Stephen, by Henri de Blois, a grandson of William the Conqueror.

This building did not stand for long however. The reign of King Stephen (1135-54) was marked by a terrible period in British history known as the Nineteen-Year Winter or The Anarchy. The turbulence was caused by disputed claims to the throne, ending only upon Stephens’s death and the succession by Henry II. The original castle was destroyed the very next year, a grand political gesture designed to draw a line under the tyrannical rule that the reign of Stephen had allowed to flourish.

These plans were printed on the 16 February, 1905 and the 15 December, 1904. By this time the Printing Record shows that Bartholomew were focusing more and more on cartographic printing at the expense of the wider range of items that marks their earlier history. These architectural plans are therefore a rare departure for Bartholomew at this point in the firm’s history.

Explorations in Equatorial Africa

Posted 16 July, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

I have been fascinated by the exploits of Victorian adventurers and explorers for a very long time, and I don’t think I’m alone. Quite what it is that attracts us to these men (and the occasional woman) can be quite varied, but for me, there’s something about the contribution they made to the map of our world that is compelling; it’s like watching cartographic time-lapse.

Bartholomew produced a lot of African mapping during this period. The maps tended to focus on the subjects of African colonisation and/or exploration, including the great fascination of the time, the search for the source of the Nile. Before long, the search became focused around the area of the great equatorial lakes.

Bartholomew printed 4,080 sets of these maps on the 28 April, 1902. The maps reveal how, as a direct result of the scramble for one of the great prizes of exploration, our geographical understanding of this region improved over time.

Compiling this information must surely have proved difficult and it would appear as a testimony to Bartholomew’s reputation that they could be relied upon to deliver the goods. But then, reputation seems to have been an important part of business life at the turn of the last century and by a very happy coincidence it emerges that the commission for these maps came from an old friend of both Bartholomew and me, none other than Sir Harry H. Johnston!

Sir Harry is a stalwart of this blog and if you are unfamiliar with him allow me to point you in the direction of an earlier entry, The Empire Strikes Back, which provides a brief introduction. Harry’s life became immutable from the central Africa which he came to both love and despair of. His works on the subject are substantial, some are even influential, and the maps printed by Bartholomew on this occasion were destined for his mammoth, two volume tome, The Uganda Protectorate, published by Hutchinson & Co in 1902.

Harry had much sympathy for these explorers; he himself spent a considerable amount of time exploring this region, albeit arguably more for pleasure than anything else. That said, he had trained as an artist and used these journeys to capture illustrations of the flora and fauna he encountered, such as this Okapi, which he is credited with discovering.

He was also an extremely gifted linguist and these trips provided him with the source material for his seminal work on the Bantu and semi-Bantu languages of the region. As such, it is perhaps forgiveable that he includes his own name amongst a list of his exploring contemporaries.

The Lakes region was a magnet for many colonisers and explorers, including, perhaps most famously today, David Livingstone. With his onus on missionary activity, for him, this region was seen as the key to opening up the dark heart of Africa.

These maps are testament to the endeavours of a succession of men, keen to unlock the intricate and complex hydrology of the area and the concomitant contribution to the greater body of knowledge which they made.

However, since Harry helped to inspire this entry it seems only fitting that he should have the final word.

Shady dealings in the whisky underworld

Posted 16 April, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

Robert Paterson Pattison and Walter Gilchrist Gray Pattison may sound suspiciously Gilbert & Sullivan but were in fact real life Victorian whisky and scandal merchants. Their Leith based dynasty fronted a murky world of fraud and embezzlement that when discovered, shocked all of Edinburgh and caused a sensation.

The Pattison brothers were whisky distillers and merchants. Their rise to prominence was meteoric; the time it took to build up the business, amass astonishing wealth and then lose it all took all but one decade.

Bartholomew’s relationship with Pattisons could be said to be entirely innocent, even if that innocence constituted supplying them with advertising. The items in this entry were printed by Bartholomew between 1896-97. Pattisons advertising is highly ornate, very intricate and very beautiful and was indeed one of the secrets of their success.

The Pattison family had been in business since 1849 (by admission of their own advertising), initially dealing with dairy products. Both brothers entered the firm and upon the death of their father they assumed control. They could be described as the epitome of entrepreneurship and accordingly jumped aboard the newly buoyant whisky trade right at its late Victorian peak. There is no doubt that this was a shrewd move. Their skill and background in dairy was surprisingly transferable and their mastery of promotion enabled them to cash in on whisky right at the point when the market burst open. The adverts that Bartholomew printed represent a tiny fraction of their tireless, avid and greedy self promotion which perhaps peaked with the (possibly/probably apocryphal) story of the brothers distributing 500 parrots to licensed grocers, all taught to intermittently recant ‘buy Pattisons whisky’. In 1898, it is claimed, they spent £60,000 on advertising alone which equates to roughly £5,000,000 today.

Ought they to have been honest, whilst staggering, their success and excess could be excused as the consequences of insightful business acumen. But they were not honest. The turning point came when the company was floated on the stock market. Shares were sold at highly inflated prices and were also over subscribed. Cooking the books moved from necessity to habit, banks loans offered temporary bailouts but could never be repaid, dishonest dealings saw innocent clients buying the same stock twice over and perhaps worst of all (from a whisky lovers perspective) they tampered with the product. Picture a warehouse with barrels of cheap, imported Irish whisky at a retail price of 11 pence a gallon on one side and a prestige product such as Glenlivet or their Royal Garden brand, which retailed for 8 shillings, 6 pence a gallon on the other. Then imagine passing the Irish off as the Glenlivet. This is in fact exactly what they did, making the brothers a tidy profit of £28,000 (£2,300,000).

They were caught of course and three years later, between 8-17 July 1901, they stood trial at Edinburgh’s High Court of Justiciary accused of fraud and embezzlement. The prosecutor was the very Solicitor General himself, Scott Dickson Q.C. Of the brothers only Walter took to the stand, perhaps reflected in his more lenient sentence. In a trial which sensationalised the Edinburgh and indeed Scottish press, lengthy accounts of the assorted witnesses follow a similar pattern; there is reluctant yet inevitable condemnation. When the trial was over Robert was sentenced to serve an 18 month jail term, Walter 9 months.

If the whisky trade had remained buoyant Pattisons would probably have survived beyond 1898. They were not only victims of their own greed but also a bigger picture of a declining trade over which they had no control. But the effects were devastating. The collapse of Pattisons reportedly brought down nine other distilleries as well as countless other smaller and ancillary suppliers. Happily, Bartholomew were not reliant on printing whisky labels and paraphernalia otherwise their own story may well have turned out very differently.