In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Edinburgh-based mapmaking firm of John Bartholomew & Son Ltd printed a growing number of maps both for the Australian market and depicting Australia.
Chris Fleet, Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland, examines recent research into the Bartholomew Archive and poses the question: how powerful were these maps in defining broader British imperial ideologies and in shaping views of Australia?
Presented in association with the Australian & New Zealand Map Society.
*Speakers: Martin Woods (M), Chris Fleet (C)
*Location: National Library of Australia
*Date: 10 September 2018
M: Welcome ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the National Library of Australia. My name is Martin Woods, I’m the Curator of Maps here at the National Library of Australia just in case you were confused which institution you were at.
As we begin I would like to acknowledge and celebrate the first Australians on whose traditional lands we meet, I pay my respects to the elders of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people past and present for caring for this land we are now privileged to call our home.
It’s my very great pleasure to welcome Chris Fleet too to the National Library of Australia. Chris is the Maps Curator – is it Curator of Maps? Maps Curator? What is the title, Chris? Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland and I met Chris – gee, nearly 10 years ago at a conference in Edinburgh - or workshop, actually that he was involved in and at the time he was forging the way in terms of new ways of getting maps online. And you know you have to say National Library of Scotland, if you haven’t visited the National Library of Scotland website – free plug, Chris – it really is a great pleasure to use and the way in which it now combines historical mapping with current mapping is a revelation. So anyway you know he and the National Library of Scotland has made great strides as has the National Library of Australia so I’m really pleased to have him here and to talk about new ways of getting old maps online.
But tonight we’re going to be talking about the Bartholomew Archive and its role at the epicentre, I think, of imperial mapping. And I wanted to make a couple of points before we called Chris up to the stage to talk to you and that is about the reading public of the early 20th century and it was a map-reading public accustomed to using printed maps to follow geography and events and wars and maps were an accepted part of life, from understanding the various conflicts of Empire and the exploits of famous explorers and scientific expeditions to everyday use for travel and emerging tourism. The popular market for printed geography in Australia included maps and atlases for every taste and pocket. They were essential for school or adult conversation comprising a universe divided into themes from every aspect of physical geography to a world view according to racial, religious, commercial, political, imperial interest. The science of cartography itself had found a place in public education, develop qualities seen as essential to national progress and the competing interests in which our side was naturally favoured. And our side was of course the British Empire.
Contemporary newspaper advertising by booksellers and newsagencies show how much this product reached these shores. The National Library of Australia for example has over 500 atlases published in Britain between 1890 and 1914, most of them purchased or collected from Australian families. Bartholomew, Johnston, Phillip, Stanford and Bacon were familiar names in businesses, schools and the family home and their output far exceeded that of a small band of local producers. And what was the nature of all this product? In sheer numbers Bartholomew had a spread of products that by today’s standards would be unthinkable. Geography recently attracted from artistic pursuits was at the centre of imperial expansion and transformation. At the beginning of the new century there were less blank spaces on maps and as we will see the relatively new discipline of geography had more to do than illustrate the roots of explorers ‘though this was still a popular source of publication.
And as you will understand in more detail from Chris the popular market for geography in Australia absorbed a diverse array of geographic products and sometimes in surprising ways. Please welcome Chris to the stage.
C: Well thank you very much for that very helpful introduction, Martin and thank you too for the invitation to speak here this evening. I can say without any doubt I’d never given a talk so far away from home or to such a large audience here this evening so I’m extremely grateful to the National Library of Australia for the invitation and to you all for coming here this evening.
Now I’d like to begin my story by telling you first of all about John George Bartholomew who at the age of 21 in 1881 sailed to Australia aboard The Sobrian. He had hoped the sea voyage and warmer climate might help his chronic tuberculosis but sadly it brought only a temporary respite.
He departed on the 22nd of September, the voyage took 11 weeks, he arrived at Melbourne on the 9th of December. He spent two months in Australia before the voyage home, making a number of useful contacts. Amongst other things he visited the Melbourne publisher, George Robertson, and gathered local maps. Although John George would never return to Australia the visit was clearly important for him both in arousing his natural geographic curiosity as well as appreciating its commercial potential. For John George commercial geography was an imperial tool to encourage people, British imperial citizens of the future to emigrate to other parts of the Empire solving perceived problems of overpopulation in Britain and hopefully avoiding the need for compulsory emigration.
In 1884 when he was aged only 24 years old John George founded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, supported by the daughter of David Livingstone, Agnes Livingstone Bruce who herself was a keen geographer with an interest in Africa. Now although RSGS was less assertively imperial than its counterpart, the Royal Geographical Society in London, there was an enduring interest in exploration and colonialism and we’ll see a bit more of this later on.
We learn more of John George’s attitude to Empire in a paper delivered in 1885 in a meeting of the British Association entitled North West Australia, a sketch of the results of recent exploration and the scope of the country for commercial development. And a map accompanying this was published in a Scottish geographical magazine in 1887. And as he wrote, the commercial geography of our British colonies should be made a subject of primary importance in school education so that the children of our working classes may thus become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages to be realised in living in India, Australia, Canada, Cape Colony or any other part of the British dominions.
John George enjoyed close association with many leading academics and travellers of the day such as the explorers, Ernest Shackleton, Dr William Bruce, Henry Morton Stanley, Cecil Rhodes and Harry Johnston whose map this is and who Bartholomew published a map for, Harry Johnston holding extremely assertively imperial attitudes. And John George also assumed full responsibility for the Bartholomew firm in 1888, a firm whose success globally depended on finding new markets, particularly through the British Empire and are publishing cartography in bulk.
So what I’d like to do this evening is share some of Bartholomew’s mapping of Australia with you from the time of John George Bartholomew. What did they publish? Who did they publish this with? Who were the main audiences? What were the main messages that the maps were trying to convey and what impact did these maps have? As the English academic geographer, Brian Harley, wrote in the 1980s, as much as guns and warships maps have been the weapons of imperialism. And I’d like to pose the question how far is this the case for Bartholomew’s mapping of Australia? And to help answer this question we need to go on a brief journey, first of all into the Bartholomew family and firm and then their archive before we return back here to Australia.
Now the Bartholomew family had their own life cycle over six generations and two centuries, an infant stage, working for other printers and publishers in the early 19th century, their adulthood in the time of John George as a fully-fledged cartographic publishing company but then their eventual decline and takeover in the late 20th century.
The early Bartholomews were engravers. George Bartholomew was the first engraver in the family and they trained the early Bartholomews with some of the finest engravers in Edinburgh, by the 19th century becoming internationally respected for engraving, printing and publishing. George Bartholomew worked at the firm of [Lisars] 10:41. Both Daniel and his son, William Holme [Lisars] who was a talented painter as well as engraver and etcher. His son, John Bartholomew senior, the first John Bartholomew, followed his father as an engraver and completed his apprenticeship with William [Lisars] in 1826 but he went on to work as an engraver for many other Edinburgh publishers. It’s likely he would have been aware of [Lisars] General School Atlas shown here with the title page, a typical mid-19th century decorative atlas reflecting some of [Lisars’] own skills as an artist and engraver and keeping up with the latest discoveries in parts of the Empire.
John Bartholomew junior trained with his father and then with the German geographer, [August Paterman] 11:41, who was then in London. And John Bartholomew spent two years with [Paterman]. In the second half of the 19th century German cartography was widely admired for its technical and intellectual sophistication. And John Bartholomew’s son and grandson both spent the formative part of their apprenticeship years in Germany.
But it’s really under John George Bartholomew that things enter a dramatically new phase. In spite of his poor health John George continually drove himself and the firm to rise above the odds, expanding production, innovating, introducing new techniques. And through John George most of all Bartholomew became something of a household name around the world.
It’s difficult to distil John George’s many achievements down. He introduced new business methods and organisation, the bulk of our archive that we’ll look at in a moment dates from his time in the 1880s. And he moved the firm to share the printing works with Thomas Nelson, a part [broad] 12:53 in Edinburgh, renaming the firm as the Edinburgh Geographical Institute, very much emulating the Perthes Geographical Institute in Leipzig that he so admired.
Now both of these firms were after all commercial cartographers but always with greater aspirations. For John George cartography was something of a high art, a way of visualising the world in new ways, in appreciating it better. And for him too there was something of a moral imperative through maps, a making the world a better place through cartography.
Now cartographers can of course create new geographic realities quite as much as they represent it and reasonably enough Bartholomew struggled to enjoy their address as you’ll see on the street of [Gibbet Bloom] 13:53 as you can see here which is the site of – where criminals were formerly hung. No matter, as Bartholomews were the chief people producing all the maps of Edinburgh within a year or two they were on a new street appearing on all their maps, the street of Park Road. And this was their address for the whole time they were there. And as you’ll see as well from this map they shared their premises, these huge publishing works were the publishing works for Thomas Nelson who we’ll come back to a little later on who were a major point of entry for Bartholomew into the Australian market. Now just to continue on a perambulation this is Duncan Street where Bartholomew moved from 1911 and where the firm remained until 1995.
John George’s son, John, who was often known as Ian Bartholomew, studied cartography in Leipzig, in Paris, in Edinburgh and he had distinguished war service with the Gordon Highlanders. He completed the Times Survey Atlas that had begun under his father and went on to produce the mid-century edition of the Times Atlas of the World, a leading world reference atlas. His in turn, John C, Peter and Robbie who you can see on the right-hand side of this directors’ board meeting were the last of the six generations of the family in the business and they continued to maintain the firm among world-leading map publishers until their retirement in 1980 when Readers’ Digest initially bought out the firm and then News International acquired them in 1985.
So with that brief canter through the family let’s have a look at the archive itself which is one of the most extensive private publisher archives relating to maps that survives in a public institution. Now this slide may seem a lot to take in at first glance but don’t worry, we’re going to return to it a few times as we go on a clockwise perambulation looking at the different components of the archive itself.
There’s 110m of the main business record and amongst other things in many stats at ledgers these record in neat black handwriting seemingly every minuscule detail of production, every quantifiable detail all cross-referenced and indexed. There’s a printing record from the 1870s, Bartholomew kept a copy of everything that they printed, everything, not only that they very helpfully recorded as you’ll see here things like the number of copies and the date that things were printed and we’ll see this again and again with our Australian mapping, very useful from a reference point of view.
In the last 10 years we’ve had a large program to conserve the printing record. The printing record survives in 177 of these huge unwieldy volumes. There’s also 50 boxes of it as well and it goes forwards and backwards and forwards and backwards across long sets of shelves and what we’ve done is to clean the maps, remove them from these volumes and put them as flat sheets inside acid-free boxes.
There’s also a reference library, 1,100 books relating to printing, mapping, gazetteers and atlases. There’s then around 20,000 printed and proof sheets of maps in these categories down here. Bartholomew were desk-based cartographers, they never went out and about doing firsthand surveying, everything they gathered, they gathered from other people and this involved other people’s maps.
But there was also extensive proof mapping and the proof mapping is also a really useful insight into the map compilation process at this time. This records the corrections and revision to map plates. Many map plates had a long lifecycle of corrections and revisions and updates over many decades and you can see for a map like this within the pocket atlas. Blue is usually used for deletions and red for additions and this would then be taken to a copperplate which would then be corrected for a new printing.
And the final components in the archive are the copperplates. We have 3,000 of these copperplates and 6,000 glass plates. The copperplates being used for the engraved masters, the glass plates being the lithographic masters which we’ll come to in a moment, used for the block printing of particular colours.
In contrast to many cartographic firms who abandoned copperplate engraving during the 19th century Bartholomew kept it going until the final quarter of the 20th century, their last copperplate engraver only retired in 1976 and they firmly believed with some justification that it gave a better quality for the detailed black line work and lettering. But of course Bartholomew are famous for their layer colouring and they effectively followed a hybrid procedure printing the black line work from a copperplate and then using lithographic stones or lithographic glass plates or lithographic plastic for the blocks of colour to build up often successive layers of colours for the composite map itself.
The accurate registration of these multiple colour pools which taxed cartographers and Bartholomew in the 19th century was something that they quickly developed their own successful solutions for. And from our perspective today it’s very easy to overlook the huge impact and advantages of these new lithographic techniques. It allowed a set of base maps to be easily overlaid with any number of thematic distributions. Existing maps could be easily transferred, altered and repackaged. Australia if you like shifted in the centre of a world map that might have been formerly centred on Britain.
And cartographic detail and its revision was quick and easy. We see this too in a moment for the Australian mapping where a standard base map often has many different incarnations. Bartholomew always reused and recycled the same map over and over again if they could.
And perhaps most importantly for colour lithography stunningly attractive colour mapping could now be generated in large print runs at a fraction of the cost of the former engraved and hand-coloured maps that had been the mainstay of cartography through to the 19th century.
So with that extended introduction it’s about time we looked at Bartholomew’s Australian mapping and what I’ve done is to extract from the printing record listing the various maps of Australia that they published over the first half century of the printing record from the 1870s through to the 1920s. And I tried to categorise them by the type of publication that these maps were printed for.
Now I should admit at this stage that whilst I do profess to know about Bartholomew’s maps and the archive I have very little expertise at all with Australian mapping. And the archive doesn’t give the final publication details so it’s been quite an interesting piece of detective work for me and I have found the answers for most of the mapping but there’s still a few question marks and hopefully therefore things which I’ll point out in passing which you may well know the answers to.
So at the beginning there were a few things that we’ll have a look at that weren’t maps at all. A very small number of sheet maps, in other words maps produced as a standard publication on their own as a physical artefact but the real impact of Bartholomew’s mapping was inside bound volumes including handbooks, directories, encyclopaedias, journals and atlases, both general atlases and school atlases. And this is a really important value of the archive in itself. Very few libraries and not ours have been able to catalogue the maps that there are within books, in other words the maps on specific pages within books. We might have a record for the book as a whole but rarely the maps within them and the archive allows us to find those maps and then track down the books themselves.
So following the formation of the private firm of John Bartholomew and Company in 1889 and their move to the new premises that we saw at Park Road in Edinburgh it signalled a new period of rapid change. Printing volumes grew, new market opportunities were exploited while the company steadily moved from printing for specific customers and other publishers to the status of being a publisher in their own right. This carried greater risks but it was much more profitable.
Non-cartographic printing as we see here in the printing record – these are luggage labels – and they produced trade advertisements, book illustrations, even things like election tickets, all sorts of printing. This was gradually replaced more and more during John George’s time by the printing and publishing of maps. But there are a few non-map items of interest from the point of view of Australia. This is a form, a letter from the Edinburgh offices of the Commercial Bank of Australia from 1886 and one of a few – there’s about four that Bartholomew printed for other Australian institutions but many of which had offices within Edinburgh. Edinburgh was effectively the main registered office and they were using Bartholomew as being a local printer.
But this is not the kind of thing people expect to find in a map company archive. This kind of printing rapidly declined under John George. Now this graph showing overall revenue, profit and sales over the period from 1890 through to the first world war is intended to show a few things and the first is that the contribution of Bartholomew’s own publications that we can see by the grey line gradually rising over here. This continually grew over time but margins were tight and there were losses in the early 1890s and in 1900. Bartholomew’s job registers typically record in more detail about three to 400 printing orders each year which included their own publications and these orders ranged from tiny print runs of a few hundred items sometimes to massive orders of over 100,000 items. Those were the thrilling ones of Bartholomew, the ones that really brought in the cash. These were especially from railway companies. But on average print runs of five to 10,000 were typical and this gives a useful context for some of the figures for the Australian mapping we’re about to see.
Now Bartholomew printed a couple of sheet maps, one relating as we see here to a map of the city of Sydney and here as we’ll see as we go through, the National Library here has very kindly gathered together some of these items including this one outside allowing them to be seen in the flesh as it were. And this detailed street map compiled at 1:20,000 was published by John Sands based at George Street in Sydney. And it seems Sands compiled a map largely from recent maps by the Surveyor-General and other official surveys perhaps as well as other maps by Sands who himself was a prolific printer of maps. And as well as its aesthetics it also includes things like administrative boundaries and quite interestingly too showing things like soundings in the harbour.
And the other sheet map is this commercial map of Australia. Now this was actually published by Bartholomew. It’s something of their dramatic debut into the Australian market and it reappeared under different titles including Bartholomew’s New Map of Australia. I’ve got a couple of details here, there’s nice insets of some of the larger towns and it includes a clearly coloured overlay of things like railways in red and telegraph lines in black and steamer routes. Some of this was stripped away for Bartholomew’s Reduced Survey Map of Australia in 1899 which was an identical [stale] 29:38, exactly the same base mapping. So really just a couple of significant sheet maps.
Let’s have a look at the books and bound volumes and I tried to order these very roughly from less cartographic to more cartographic works, in other words the initial volumes we’ll look at are largely pages of letter press text rather than maps and as we go through the later publications tending to be the atlases, almost completely maps with a small chunk of letter press text.
So first of all some bespoke mapping, quite interesting bespoke mapping for noncartographic customers, in this case on land acquisition, the maps illustrating the properties belonging to the New Zealand and Australian Land Company from 1892. And some might interpret this as a map illustrating the imperial appropriation of territory. This was one of the most successful of the land companies with offices in Scotland as well as in Sydney and Dunedin and they acquired pastoral and agricultural land in New Zealand and Australia. At this time they were primarily New Zealand land holdings but these were soon to be acquired by the New Zealand Government and its major interests then in the 20th century were very much in Australia.
A closely related type of mapping from my perspective in terms of the function, extending European agriculture can be found in the Map of the Runs of the Australian Livestock Company and you have a more detailed part of the Barrow Creek area in Northern Territory which had been settled by Europeans from the 1870s with sheep overlanded and there were conflicts with the indigenous population.
Quite a different type of mapping aesthetically and in terms of – and the overall purpose is this calendar map, just 150 copies of this produced in the second world war for the National Mutual Life Association of Australia, perhaps something for the officers to put up on the wall or maybe as a promotional thing for customers, the world coloured as you’ll see an intensely saturated imperial magenta.
Let’s look at handbooks and directories and the Minerals Map of New South Wales, very much mapping resources for exploitation. Was issued with Gordon and Gotch’s, the Australian handbook. This directory you’ll almost certainly know better than I do, it was very much a practical guide to the economics of imperialism. And from its advert appears to be as much directed at Great Britain as Australia. Bartholomew continued to print around 1,500 copies of maps for this directory during the 1890s. Some really interesting mapping in here, this is the printing record sheet showing all of the maps on one sheet which would be bound up and packaged at different points in the directory itself including this map here, South Australia showing public works. I have an enlarged detail of this which includes water supplies and government-controlled water districts around Adelaide as well as interestingly the location of lighthouses with the star symbol, publicly-owned lighthouses under local control at this time.
The major large British encyclopaedias were also very keen to include Bartholomew’s maps including the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Now this I would argue is a more topographic information map rather than with any assertively imperial agenda. But we also hold some early photos in the archive, in this case showing the Encyclopaedia Britannica leaving Duncan Street. Quite a nice reminder of the practicalities of map and atlas distribution methods of this time. Another directory publication with Bartholomew’s maps was the Statesman’s Yearbook which in 1910 as we see here showed the new federal capital here.
And now there’s an assortment here of maps which – there in the printing record which I have yet to track down the source volume for but were probably directory-style publications. No libraries have these maps catalogued and this implies that they’re there within other volumes. Commercial map of Australia, actually a smaller scale than the commercial map that we saw, the second one in.
During the 1890s Bartholomew also produced maps of Australia for Thomas Nelson who paid for the work in collaboration with Frank Lloyd and Company, a publisher with offices in Pitt Street in Sydney. And this included their Federal Map of Australia from 1897. Now this if you’ve seen it is a real blockbuster of a map, it’s 115cm wide, 110cm high. Quite a small print run of 1,000 copies but reissued with practically no changes other than the title as the Commonwealth Map of United Australia in 1903 with a similar small print run. A map I think that deserves I think to be better known.
And Bartholomew recycled the sectional maps as you’ll see here, the maps around the edge, sectional map here zooming in from the Federal Map of Australia. They’d recycle these from the Royal Atlas and Gazetteer of Australia published by Thomas Nelson which we’ll come to in a moment. You can just see by glancing quickly at these two and toggling between them, the colour style changes but that’s just a simple lithographic matter.
And then six years later they printed 10,000 copies of the perfect miniature map of Australia from 1903. This is a small map, postcard-sized map at 1:10 million scale and again must have been intended for some type of publication rather than released on its own is what I mean to say.
There’s then the publishing for the academic, the learned society journals and these really have a larger impact than we might imagine. The Scottish Geographical magazine published John George’s Western Australia map as we saw right at the beginning in 1887. They continued to publish many other maps of Australia over the following decades including this rainfall map in the long lost days when it used to rain around here. And a map of Australia for Albert Calvert, Scientific Exploring Expedition of 1895-6 with as you’ll see unexplored areas are helpfully all marked and letter-coded in pink.
Now I’m sure you’ll know all about Calvert but I had to look him up. Calvert was an explorer, writer, a mining consultant whose expeditions at this time didn’t go at all well. His brother died in his 1895 expedition whilst in his 1896 expedition two of the party were lost in the desert and Calvert was publicly derided for heavy financial losses. But this is just in advance of all that when it was all about to happen.
And the Scottish Geographical magazine continued its assertively imperial line with enthusiastic papers from people like the colonial agent for north-west Australia with its subtitle A British State in the Making, how the plan for Empire is being filled in.
From 1890 Bartholomew produced maps for a significant new Australian atlas and there’s a beautiful copy of this on display outside the auditorium. This was published by Thomas Nelson. The Royal Atlas and Gazetteer of Australia from 1890. 3,500 copies. Octavo-sized volume with 28 plates including maps of the colonies and cities as well as what was by then a standard commercial map of the world but centred in this case on Australia.
And this atlas evolved into the Royal Australasian World Atlas in 1892, print run growing here, things are looking good. Published by Thomas Nelson, again an under – a number of more local imprints in particular cities. Slightly more plates, 34 plates and featuring a diagram as you can see on this side, on the left-hand side which on the one hand purported to show time zones around the world but far more obviously showing as it says in the bottom line here, the sun is always shining on some part or other of the Queen’s dominions.
But that said the main content of this atlas was topographic or reflecting physical geography without I feel any overt imperial motive. And this volume, what I wanted to show was the approximate print runs over time of this atlas and you’ll have to believe me that if you tot them all up up to 1915 it comes to 126,000 copies, really, really significant for Bartholomew and in terms of the impact.
But it’s important not to forget the many world atlases that Bartholomew was producing too including Australia such as the Times Survey Atlas of the World originally published with maps by the German firm of [Alhagan and Claysing] 41:34 but then the proprietor of the Times spoke with John George Bartholomew and Bartholomew started in 1920 their long association with producing maps for the Times Atlas, they were hugely honoured to do this. The first consignment of the atlas leaving Duncan Street was an occasion for a major – another photograph but it was a huge job, completely new plates, 112 colour maps, each large folio maps.
But I would argue if we look at these, these general world atlases, that it’s only really when we turn to school atlases, educational atlases that the imperial agenda comes even more I think to the fore than for nearly all these other applications. And the late 19th century saw a publishing bonanza for school atlases. Three important developments, a rise of geography as a discipline within universities and schools, itself very closely associated with Empire. Schooling became compulsory for the working classes in 1880 and free from 1892 onwards. Huge number of pupils all of a sudden. And there was a real official drive to include the Empire and geographical knowledge of it for teachers. In 1880 the Department of Education revised the instructions to school inspectors requiring them to pay most attention to teaching on the English colonies and the King’s scholarship examination for teachers always started with British possessions in the world including their products and trade routes.
Now Bartholomew has produced school atlases from the 1860s but not really in any large number. The School Atlas of Australia was published by Phillips, included mapping by John Bartholomew junior. And we see a real attempt, a real more definite attempt to focus on the Australasian market with the School Hand Atlas, the Australasian edition of 1895. Now this was again with Bartholomew a bit of publishing trickery. What they had published for many years was the School Hand Atlas with its array of map plates going around the world and all they did in the School Hand Atlas was simply rejig the order so these plates were Australia and New Zealand, suddenly jumped to be fairly early on in the sequence but other than that it was just an identical atlas. And it was criticised, increasingly criticised by people in Australia for not being that helpful in the schools. And this shows a typical plate from the School Hand Atlas.
From 1915 Bartholomew produced a completely new set of maps in a new atlas with content derived from Karl Reginal Cramp who we see here on the title page who was an Englishman by birth, he spent most of his life in Australia, worked as an historian and a schools inspector. And Cramp was keen on local geography, maps giving priority to Australia as well as physical, political and industrial maps of New Zealand, detailed maps that showed things like economics, the commercial potential of places which may look quite everyday to our eye but a completely new departure in terms of school atlases to show this kind – what you might call thematic overlay of things like coal mines and gold mines.
But the most important part at least for Cramp was a detailed appendix of historical maps with explanatory notes which illustrated Australia’s discovery and exploration. Now before we look at these just keep this image in your mind too because we’ll see it again quite soon. The localising of geography was very much within Cramp’s own quite jingoist and imperialist narratives as well as his staunch allegiance to the British Empire. In the historical maps in the Australasian School Atlas Australia was represented as an empty and black country before its discovery and population by the British. Before this point Australia’s not just terra incognita due to its existence outside of British geographical knowledge but also a land empty of inhabitants. Human history, school children perhaps were taught, had not really begun in Australia until the arrival of their countrymen at its shores. And after the arrival of the explorers the colonised parts of the country were increasingly illuminated in yellow and according to the maps Australia’s history begins. As Cramp himself wrote, the curtain of darkness was slowly rolled back in the southwest of the continent. By 1875 Australia was represented as fully explored and the colour black had been completely eliminated.
Now interestingly enough the Oxford School Atlas that was also published by Oxford University Press in 1922 also had a map showing the exploration of Australia, just showing how the same subject can be presented in a way that gives quite a different impression with the same raw material, same kind of chronological narrative but not necessarily through the same explicit blocks of colour that Cramp was so keen to do. And this atlas was keen to reuse – this is the plate that you kept in mind – to reuse several of the plates from the Australasian School Atlas on economic geography and on things like economic potential.
Now you don’t need to read all of this at all, it’s just the general message. If we toss up all of the school atlases that Bartholomew were involved with and we’ll see this comes to 120,000 copies from really the 1890s – we don’t have numbers for the earlier atlas – from the 1890s through to the beginning of the second world war, real large quantity of stuff, Bartholomew Publishing getting out there and being read and the bulk of this being published for Oxford University Press’ Australasian School Atlas. As we’ll see here Cramp’s Australasian School Atlas continued to be published right the way through to the second world war without any changes to the main historical narrative plates.
So was there an imperial agenda? Now I did say, to let myself off the hook, I would pose the question rather than necessarily answer it as I do feel the answer is something of a yes but no but yes sort of thing. I’m a sitter on the fencer as you can tell.
If you follow Brian Harley’s arguments we can clearly see that Bartholomew’s maps encouraged the exploration and conquest of Australia. They encouraged the appropriation of land in quite a general as well as quite a specific way. Colouring the world a possessive British pink, ignoring indigenous names, coining new British imperial ones, representing inhabited landscapes as morally blank, empty deserts, as black zones of darkness awaiting exploration, easily acquired, divided and ruled. And whilst it’s easy to say all these things the narrative – and a narrative like this is quite simplistic. It focuses on referring sets of cartographic features like colour, cartouches, place names, boundaries and blank spaces and it’s important that we try to go beyond these obvious and quite self-evident statements to recognise the greater complexities and contradictions involved in the process.
For the academic, Matthew Edney, who made a monumental survey of the great trigonometrical survey of British India, maps were a metaphor and an agent of British imperial and epistemological supremacy but they also reflected many other concerns, both ideological and religious. They were the results of negotiation, mediation, contested subjects between surveyors, governors and investors, not just reflecting if you like the colonisers and the colonised.
Once we look at the processes of cartography including production, circulation and consumption and the multiple players involved in creating the map content I think we get a more complex, nuanced picture of imperial mapping which defy any attempts to reduce it to a single kind of sledgehammer framework. The purposes behind many Bartholomew maps in this period can certainly be seen to promote different aspects of the imperial agenda but they don’t do so simply. And it has to be said they don’t -some don’t support any particular imperial narrative at all. It’s important to remember Bartholomew are often printing other people’s ideas and sketch maps and for publishers who themselves had a strong role over the content of their atlas, the idea of authorship is a blended one and Bartholomew were often simply the purveyors of other people’s ideas.
But I have to say, my final take on this, it’s unavoidably true to me that those looking for examples of exploration, ex-appropriation or control of land, settlement, conquest, extraction of resources and wealth and inculcating that idea of imperial stewardship and citizenship of another country in their readers, young and old, Bartholomew’s maps show it all. Thank you very much.
M: Please stay up, thanks, Chris, ‘cause we’re going to ask for questions from the floor and please – thanks very much for that fascinating presentation and conversation which we would like to continue if we can in the few minutes that we have left. If you can raise your hand a microphone will be brought to you.
A: Yeah, thanks, Chris. You mentioned one map there which you had, I think it was the 1897 Federal Map of Australia showing the different states and everything and you also had North and South Islands of New Zealand you said that was reissued in 1903 with no changes and called something else, I think Commonwealth Map of Australia? Did you still have New Zealand on it?
C: Now that’s a good question, it’s a good question. Yeah, I don’t think I have an image of that with me and I’m afraid that’s something that I’ll have to check because that would have been a very obvious anachronism, wouldn’t it?
C: What I did was to focus in on the detail of a few of the sectional maps and saw no changes for those but if you were to leave me an email address I can check that and get back to you because it would interest me but I’ll need to check that back in Edinburgh. Thank you.
A: Can you tell us a little bit more about the process of actually getting the map? Because it always seemed to be really tiny, tiny writing and I just wonder how do they achieve that?
C: The really small lettering.
C: Yes, yeah well it’s interested me greatly and we’re lucky that in the archive some of the engravers who worked with Bartholomew left their engraving equipment and all of it was done under extremely high magnifications. We have a magnifying glass that was used for engraving and we often get it out to people to look at ‘cause if you look at anything under it it really is enormous and there’s photographs that survive in the archive too that show engravers at work, all of them usually bent double with a giant magnifying glass and yeah, they really had miniscule control over the tiny instruments to get the detail that they needed. Engravers were the most highly paid in Bartholomew, there was a seven-year apprenticeship to become an engraver there, very much the elite within the firm and it’s because it really required skills of the highest order that lithography as a different kind of technique didn’t really require.
A: Thank you for the talk. Couple of questions, I notice from some of those tables that they’d done say for school maps, revisions over 40 or 50 years. Is much evidence that they really did true revisions as opposed to just literally printing what they’d done 30 or 40 years before? And I note that there were obviously some, for example the Federal Capital Territory I think were identified pretty early. And my other question is, is the – did you come across any sort of odd name changes or errors beyond the one that you mentioned about their premises in Edinburgh? And the final quick point I’ll make, that map from 1903 to do with New Zealand, I suspect New Zealand still was in there because the way the Commonwealth constitution was drafted is they could join later and indeed New Zealand had a Royal Commission in about 1903 as to whether to join so I suspect the issue was still live at the time.
A: But I'm not sure about that, it’s just a thought.
C: That’s really helpful on the final point. Yeah, I think I can’t really give you good answers in terms of the detail. What I try to do is look at if you like the broad brush picture and I think the weakness I have is just not really having an eye for the kind of detail that matters for a place like this. Scotland for me you know is the place where the detail matters and I do – I’m able to go into the detail and look at that. What we are very keen to do, and it’s something I hope we’ll do over the next few years and not the next decade but in the next few years, is make available a lot more of this mapping because I feel that if it was made available to you as an audience and others here on this side of the world you would be able to make a lot more of it than I’ve done and spot those kind of details and spot things where I just blandly say oh they’re just the same map, you know. There may be details that did matter and did change so it’s something that digitisation is very helpful for because a lot of the real interest for this kind of mapping’s obviously here rather than in Edinburgh.
A: I’m interested in where the firm of Bartholomew got the detail for the local maps of Australasia, for example you showed us that remarkable 1890 map of Sydney with this huge amount of detail in it and it just seems remarkable that that’s published the other side of the world.
C: Yeah, that’s a really good question and I didn’t really cover that. Now Bartholomew were jobbing printers before they were cartographers and publishers and sometimes they just received an order from someone who would have assembled the lithographic stone which they just printed and for that John Sands map of the city of Sydney in 1890, it’s clearly not compiled by Bartholomew, I can tell just by looking at the style of it. All they did was to print it for Sands and you know as a – economic transaction and I don’t really know why but that is the line on that one.
Bartholomew did build up their own stock if you like of cartographic knowledge but it was always at a relatively small scale, in other words that map of the city of Sydney, it’s very unusual to have something at street level like that. Most of the maps of the continent of Australia or a whole colony, one or two insets of the cities but never descending down into the kind of detail where they needed to get out there and revise the information firsthand and there were changes going on down on the ground that any local who was buying the maps would have noticed. And at a smaller scale you can get away with a lot less in terms of the updating and major things in terms of you know changes to colony boundaries or if there was an extension of a railroad or something like that, they needed to keep abreast of that but broadly they could do that by looking at the adjacent publications either by commercial publishers or by buying the Departments of Lands and Survey or sometimes the individual if you like state colonial surveys themselves and there’s copies of all of that material in the archive.
Bartholomew’s attitude was everyone else’s material they could plunder happily provided they redrew it or else they would have ended up with copyright infringement and I think from our eyes today it seems like they sailed pretty close to the wind in terms of everyone else’s information. But the compilations are fascinating, a fascinating thing and it’s only really refined for some of their maps closer to home in Edinburgh that they really got out and about and created maps that were demonstrably new rather than simply compilations of everyone else’s cartography.
A: Thank you very much for your talk. A very sort of nerdy question about projections, did they always stick to [McCater] 2:26 or that was just something they copied? ‘Cause some of those maps look to be other projections? Were they into the detail like that?
C: Yeah, sorry, the question is did the projection matter for the maps and did it matter for Bartholomew? That’s your question, really. Yeah, yeah, I think that it certainly did. I think that Bartholomew were very keen on shapes and sizes from an aesthetic point of view rather than necessarily making any other overt points with a lot of their more detailed mapping. I mean the standard imperial map of the world, I think it’s been well, well-known, deliberately extended the parts of the world that mattered from a British imperial perspective and the projection for things like that is hugely important in itself. I think that what they did try and do in some of their school atlases was alter the projection and there’s a page that gives guidance on projections but more in terms of relative size so you may not have seen it and it might take me a little while to backtrack and show it but in the Oxford University Press 1922 atlas which I now will fail to find, if we can find it outside, I think.
Anyway there’s a little inset of England and Wales with a huge Australia and that was very much intended for the audience both here and back at home to try and appreciate relative size. And so things like that they would have tried to show accurate representations of the size themselves. But I don’t think I can give you any cleverer answer than that, it’s not as if they had a rulebook of particular projections to go for but they were well aware of the value of projection themselves in the mapping.
M: Thanks Chris, thanks very much and thanks again for a – extraordinary entertaining evening and it really has been interesting to get an insight into the Bartholomew Archive. I’m afraid we have run out of time. I’d like you to join me in thanking Chris in just a moment. I will mention two things before we do close and that is please enjoy the maps on the way out as you go and also if you have time join Chris up in the bookshop. There are two wonderful publications up there if you would like to buy them and Chris would happily sign them. Scotland, Mapping the Islands and Scotland, Mapping the Nation. Please join me in thanking Chris.
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