We have a soft spot for maps and manuscripts. In the age of Google, printed maps are becoming even more enchanting; their details, their stories. They offer a romantic view of our past and adventures, and we’re drawn to the age worn beauty of the original manuscripts themselves.
The maps we’ve selected for Surface View capture this balance of scientific fervour and crafted beauty. Most of them originate from either the Bartholomew Physical Atlas, Volume III, Meteorology, 1899 (to be precise) or The Times Atlas of the World, Mid-Century Edition, 1957. The former exemplifies the formidable ambition of its maker to probe new areas of knowledge. The latter marks a fascinating post-war era when the iron curtain was firmly drawn across half the continent, complete with a frisson of cold war espionage. Both of them mark a point in time, and stand on the cusp of change. And both were lavish productions of their day, beautifully printed, expensively produced and sumptuously coloured. These publications can trace their origins back to the flourishing Scottish publishing and cartographic innovations of the 18th century, as they owe their heritage to a five generation strong Bartholomew map making dynasty.
We were lucky enough to thumb through the original bound manuscripts, and we believe we’ve unearthed some real treasures. Check out The Vertical and Latitudinal Distribution of Animal Life, or Temperature - Anomalies, Extremes, Ranges. Each of the plates featured in our collections have been photographed in high resolution, at our studios, from the original plates briefly entrusted to us by the Collins Bartholomew Archive.
And if you interested in more ancient cartography, we’ve also been given some exquisite German maps, and also have some beautiful rare finds within our National Maritime Museum Collection.