Archive for the 'Scotland' category

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.


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.


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.




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).


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


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.


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!

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.


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.


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).


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.


Bartholomew’s Large Plan of Edinburgh and Leith

Posted 10 June, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

In the summer of 1891, John Bartholomew & Co. launched a cartographic tour de force whose sheer magnificence continues to awe. Bartholomew’s Plan of the City of Edinburgh with Leith and Suburbs. Reduced from the Ordnance Survey and Revised to the Present Date by John Bartholomew, or the Large Plan of Edinburgh & Leith, as it’s more usually known (for obvious, laconic reasons) is a map of superlatives.

Edinburgh city centre

It is comprised of twelve sheets that when viewed together measure 6ft. 4in. high by 5ft. 2in. wide. Work on it began in 1880, coming to fruition a mammoth 11 years later. The printing alone took 250 hours, utilising a total of 45 lithographic stones and requiring a total of 25,000 pulls (a pull being the number of times the paper goes through the printing press, once for the outline and then once for each colour). The work was staggered, Sheet 1 went to the press on 10 June 1891 and Sheet 12 on 18 June 1891. A modest 500 copies of each were printed but even so, the final cost was an astronomical £125 (£75 to produce the map and £50 in royalties). To put that into perspective, this would equate to around £13,500 by today’s standards. And this doesn’t even include the engraving costs, essentially comprised of staff wages, which add a further £75 to the total.


The prospectus describes this map as ‘the finest and most elaborate Map of the City and Suburbs ever produced’, and whilst the stringency of this statement might be hard to support, it is unquestionably a gorgeous and engaging map. What strikes one at first is the pleasing overall effect that the map has; a minty green softens the predominance of business-like shades of grey, and it sprawls itself languidly across the sheets when seen in its entirety. When seen up close it is no less impressive. As Leslie Gardener writes best in Bartholomew 150 Years, ‘Every lamp-post is dotted…so are the flower beds in the gardens, the garden sheds, the stairways and steps of the courts and closes…You may trace the seating arrangements in the Surgeon’s Hall, count the stalls in the Court of Session…and study the display cases in the Science Museum’.

This level of detail derives from the fact that the map is based on Ordnance Survey’s 5ft. to a mile map of Edinburgh, a 56 sheet cartographic behemoth. Bartholomew shrunk this to a more manageable 15 inches to a mile, but without diminishing the detail.


The printed maps are supplemented by the original copper plates, seen here spun by the power of technology, to show the plate ‘the right way round’.

Copper plate

I am not alone in being an ardent fan of this map, it has recently been scanned, stitched, geo-referenced and overlaid onto Google Maps in a project funded by Visualising Urban Geographies, ‘a project that provides mapping tools for historians’. This painstaking work, a labour of love, allows the maps to be viewed as a whole for the first time (the removal of the margins allows for seamless travel from one sheet to the next) whilst the overlaying allows 1891 Edinburgh to sit in contrast with 2011 Edinburgh. Do have a look, you will find the map here.

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.

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 Evolution of a Map

Posted 22 October, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

It is largely agreed that John Bartholomew & Son. Ltd. can lay claim to a distinguished and deserved reputation as regards the quality of their maps and their ability to innovate. Successive generations pioneered new projections, new types of content and even new methods of folding, but arguably the pinnacle of all of this innovation was their hugely popular and highly influential “half-inch” to the mile series of maps.

These maps proved successful for two principal reasons; firstly, they were on a very useful scale and secondly, they innovatively made use of contour layer colouring, a technique that greatly improved the way in which landscapes were portrayed.

To begin with, Bartholomew printed these maps as stand-alone sheets and by 1886 the whole of Scotland was covered. They soon took up the challenge of turning them into a series though, and this was first pubilshed under the title Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey of Scotland.

The maps were prodigiously popular amongst members of cycle touring and later, motor touring groups and clubs. The contour colouring indicated at a glance the type of terrain a route might present, and the scale achieved the difficult ability to see just enough detail but also, just enough generality.

The Cyclists’ Touring Club in particular adopted this series with a passion. From the late nineteenth century their logo even appeared on the maps. This was probably the least that Bartholomew could do since they looked to the army of CTC members (60,449 at its peak) as a cheap, extensive and reliable source of revision, suggestion and opinion.

Bartholomew invested a lot of time and effort into the half-inch series. By the end of the nineteenth century they were beginning to expand the series to cover the whole of Great Britain. They were revising the most popular sheets every couple of years, ensuring that their maps were more up to date than their main rival, Ordnance Survey. Popular sheets had print runs of several tens of thousands per edition, involving nearly 20 different layer colours for the more complicated sheets.

By the late twentieth century, Bartholomew had phased the series out. It was no longer competitive against a new breed of touring maps along the lines of A to Z. This once ubiquitous map had served its purpose and run its course. But if it is now largely forgotten then it does leave one lasting legacy perhaps; the use of colour to depict height and depth.

Work on cataloguing and preserving the Bartholomew Archive allows Bartholomew maps to be appreciated in a new way. Although one half-inch map may look much like another, comparison reveals a startling degree of difference, experimentation and sometimes, failed innovation. The following images are all enlargements of the preceding zoomable maps (Sheet 16 – Braemar and Blair Atholl). Spanning only 15 years, the degree of difference is immense. The map printed on 24 December 1902 is particularly remarkable for its use of pink tinting, an innovation that I have not seen on any half-inch map before. Which of these do you think best conveys the heights and depths of the Cairngorms?

15 August 1890.
16 August 1892.
26 July 1894.
10 August 1899.
24 December 1902.

Where shall we put the Hall?

Posted 20 August, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

Just a short one today and something of an interesting, little-known footnote to history.

In full swing at this time of year, the Edinburgh International Festival is a condensed, intense handful of weeks of high art and culture. Attracting international visitors as a complement to receptive locals, eyes and ears are indulged with popular and not-so-popular music, drama and dance. But it would be nothing without a vessel to contain it and one of the principal ones is the Usher Hall.

Opened in 1914, it is hard to imagine the building occupying any other site in the city, but as this map shows, an early contender was near-by park, the Meadows.

In 1896, Andrew Usher donated £100,000 (almost £9,000,000 today) to the city for the explicit construction of a new concert hall. As can be seen, there was a considerable delay between the philanthropic act and the opening of its fruits, indeed Usher died in 1898, never seeing his dream fulfilled. One cause of this delay was the choice of site.

Bartholomew only printed 100 copies of this map, on the 5 July, 1898. The commission came from the City Superintendent and the city’s Public Works Office. The Meadows therefore seem like an early front runner as regards the hall’s location, serious enough to print maps to that effect (at a cost of £400 by today’s standards) at least. Clearly though it fell out of favour and in the end was abandoned altogether. That it was considered at all is odd since the reason for the demolition of the grand crystal hall of the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886 was cited as an act of Parliament forbidding permanent structures in the park.

Nevertheless, it just goes to show that maps not only capture the world as it is but also, as it might have been.

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.

Do It At Dundee

Posted 11 January, 2010 13:04 by Karla Baker | Permalink

What better way to start 2010 than by giving myself the day off? Today’s entry has been written by my colleague Chris Fleet and looks at an interesting and unusual map of Dundee which was recently discovered in the Bartholomew Archive Printing Record.

This spectacular panoramic photograph and map of Dundee harbour caught our attention during recent conservation. Merely one of the thousands of publications by Bartholomew, this particular item encapsulates many aspects of 1930s Dundee. The worldwide recession in the interwar years hit Dundee hard, with a major slump in textiles and related industries, and over a third of the labour force unemployed.

Amongst the various attempts to encourage new work and employment was a publication by the City of Dundee Development Corporation, accompanied by its inviting Do it At Dundee gold plaque.

This was a carefully written propaganda exercise, promoting executives and industrialists to move to the city, with pictures of its parks, golf courses, and state of the art port facilities.
The striking panoramic view from Dundee Law was in fact done by Bartholomew blog veterans Valentines (see Now you don’t see them, now you do) the famous Dundee photographic and postcard company, with the accompanying map by John Bartholomew & Son Ltd.

Bartholomew had been producing plans for Dundee Harbour Trust for at least two decades, and this map was reduced from a larger scale plan of the harbour they published in the same year at 1:2,500. Although the Ordnance Survey revision of 1921 would have provided basic cartography, there is much updated and additional information: company names and street names, depths of water on the wharves, loading capacities of cranes, harbour lights, and even underground sewers. 7,208 copies were printed on 10 December 1931, with water coloured blue, roads in sienna, and buildings in grey.

On the back is an attractive colour-coded plan of Dundee proposing new developments – regenerating the former industrial sites, planning new roads and outlying industrial estates, along with a large expansion of residential areas outwards from the city centre.

In 1911, over 60% of Dundee households lived in 1 or 2 roomed houses, and slum clearance and better housing was a key priority. From 1919 to 1939, over 8,100 local authority houses were built, many in new suburban districts such as Logie, Beechwood, and Craigiebank or Craigie Garden Suburb. This map is in many ways a blueprint for post-war Dundee, encouraging the residential and industrial expansion north of the Kingsway ring road, and even anticipating the new Proposed Municipal Airport (albeit some three decades before its eventual opening in 1962).

Both plans bore the stamp of James Hannay Thomson, the Dundee Harbour Trust General Manager and Engineer, who successfully encouraged a transition away from Dundee’s failing textile industries towards new manufacturing at this time. He also was able to recognise the future importance of transportation of raw materials by roads, and not just by sea – a difficult issue, given the historical investment in the harbour and its immense value as a source of income and employment. Although they took time to locate in Dundee, multinational companies such as Dayco, Holochrome, National Cash Register, Timex, and Michelin provided much needed post-War employment, and the 1960s maps of Dundee show a surprisingly similar form to this map of 1931.

The importance of this map rests particularly on its promotional role, in presenting Dundee as an attractive, clear and organised geographical space for potential development, in conjunction with a well-argued supporting text. It serves as a useful reminder that for the history of towns from Victorian times into the post-War period in Scotland, some of the most useful and regularly updated maps were drawn and published, not by Ordnance Survey, but by Bartholomew.