Bartholomew’s Maps


Bartholomew, more than Ordnance Survey, concentrate on the traveller- The Railway traveller at first and the Road traveller in the 20th century. Red flags marking distance became a feature of their road maps.

The geology of a Bartholomew’s map is eye catching and instantly comprehensible- with the lush leaf greens of the low lands and the siennas and greys of the rising heights. County borders are also well defined and the whole effect is a much more colourful piece of lithographic cartography than an equivalent OS piece. It has, perhaps one visual fault, that is: that colour gradation for height can easily be interpreted as vegetation growth or lack of it- and though the two are not unrelated- the parallel is far from exact. The “psychological” effect of their coloured “orography” is of a lush lowlands and increasingly barren uplands- which may not be the case.

Very unfussy and uncomplicated border legends also add to its attractiveness.- with the Royal Cypher usually at bottom centre. When Bartholomews worked with the Cyclists’ Touring Club, their badge replaced the Royal Arms. The Royal patronage enjoyed by Batholomew was only of George V: thus, after his death: the dedication read, “of the Late King George V”.

This company was not as assiduous about dating as OS but the notes below offer clues to dating- written by the company’s archivist and historian. A revision date is given in the margin here, combined with the OS acknowledgement; both are not always present.

Where as Ordnance Survey produce documents of record, Bartholomew’s maps evoke a landscape. They are, in a sense, a return to an earlier form of cartography in which pictorial art combined with cartography.

Another technical flaw in the symbolism, it could be argued, was the dual use of black lines for railways and rivers; the two could not be confused on OS maps.

Some information below is learnt from Mr K Winch’s very good history of Bartholomew maps – he was the map curator of the company and a cartographic historian. Readers are recommended to view the site on-line by this historian.


Bartholomew map printing business started in the year 1826,

Bartholomews were Edinburgh cartographers and their Edinburgh premises – were at: 4a North Bridge 1859-1870 and then at 31 Chambers Street 1870-1889 which had been called 17, Brown’s Square.

At the turn of the century their works moved to Park Road (1889-1911) then to 12 Duncan Street from 1911 until 1995. The Edinburgh Geographical Institute was located at Duncan Street and its image can be seen on advertising panels on the versi of certain vintage Bartholomew maps: a long low semi-Gothic building with turreted towers.

In 1989 Bartholomew merged with the publisher Harper Collins Publishers and in 1995 the company finally left Duncan Street to a site occupied by the new merged company at Westerhill Road, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow


On early editions no date was included on the map. Sometimes a 4 figure print job number written. This is generally found against the margin in the bottom left corner..

From about 1911 until 1945 a date code was used in which the last two numbers represented the year of publication preceded by an “A” or a “B” indicating in which half of the year the print run took place – thus B21 would be the second half of 1921. This number and letter is usually by the margin at top or bottom left. One some maps it is at centre bottom margin.

Bartholomew’s ½ Inch to 1 Mile Series, of which there were many, were popular maps often revised in various series of editions with changing sheet names and numbering which altered between these editions: England, England and Wales, Scotland, Great Britain.

SCOTLAND: 1875-1886 Reduced Ordnance Maps of Scotland

Also: Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey of Scotland: 30 ‘District’ sheets. Prepared and printed by J. Bartholomew for Adam & Charles Black.

1890-1895 Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey of Scotland.

Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey, Maps of Scotland for

Tourist’s & Cyclists: 29 sheets. With open borders.

1896-1926 Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey of Scotland, 2 miles to an inch. Called Bartholomew’s New Reduced Survey for Tourists & Cyclists. 29 sheets. Early maps in brown covers, later maps after 1911in blue covers.

1922-1927 Bartholomew’s “Half-Inch to Mile” Map of Scotland. Called Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch to Mile for Motorists & Cyclists. 29 sheets.

1921-1932 Bartholomew’s “Half-Inch to Mile” map of Scotland. called: Bartholomew’s Revised “Half-Inch” contoured maps.

1933-1937 Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch map.


John Bartholomew printed maps for W H Smith Station Bookstalls which were red cloth covered with a cream label printed black on the front. The process was an engraved base map from an earlier Ordnance map with counties coloured lithographically. The “target audience” changed from Travellers to Travellers and Tourists, To Cyclist and Tourists. These maps carried no date and are best dated by seeing which railways were not yet marked as finished. The evidence of this red hard covered series suggest dates of 1870s-1890. Later , around 1900, the Smith’s Railway Bookshop maps looked more like a Bartholomew’s map with a blue and black cloth cover with a black and red label. The maps were wholly lithographically printed and the counties only bordered in a colour- not blocked in. By now, suggested roads were coloured- which they had not been. “Tourists and Cyclists” were the target public- motors were not yet mentioned. These blue covered Smiths/ Bartholomew Maps of Circa 1900 are perhaps some of the most aesthetically pleasing of all maps printed by the Edinburgh company.

The whole series of Railway Station maps- Red covered and then Blue Covered-seem to have uniform pin holes which do not align with folds and are, therefore, not fold wear: They must have been made by a form of registration in the printing presses. George Baxter used a similar pin hole form of registration.

The Smiths Bartholmew maps can be dated by the number of titles cited in the series list: there were initially 42 titles, then 62, 69 and 82, beginning with the red cloth covers and changing later into the blue cloth covers.

In the Edwardian Era Bartholomews printed an England and Wales series in 1/4” scale which was their first attempt to appeal to the motor market. The base was white and taken from a Victorian Ordnance map. Counties were purple bordered, the water was an unusual cerulean blue. The maps were large with 12 sheets covering the two countries. Covers were simple, lettered and blue- quite unlike other Batholomew’s maps of the time. Covers floated and and advertising panel for their Atlases appeared on the verso. The series was short lived- expensive at 3/- and the last “Victorian” form – extending the format of the Railway station maps for the new Motorists market. They are attractive maps but rarely seen.

1897-1903 Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey of England & Wales, scale 2 miles to 1 inch. called: Bartholomew’s Reduced Ordnance Survey for Tourists & Cyclists.These maps included in Survey Atlas of England & Wales of 1903.

1904-1920 Bartholomew’s “Half-Inch to Mile” map of England & Wales.Called Bartholomew’s new Reduced Survey for Tourists & Cyclists. 37 sheets. On this map first class and second class roads were differentiated for the first time.

1924-1926 Bartholomew’s “Half-Inch to Mile” map of England & Wales. Called Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch to Mile for Motorists & Cyclists. 37 sheets.

1926-1936 Bartholomew’s “Half-Inch to Mile” map of England & Wales. Called Bartholomew’s Revised half-Inch Contoured Maps.


1936-1943 Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch Map. Called: Bartholomew’s Revised “Half-Inch” Contoured Maps. 62 sheets.

1940-1963 Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch Map, Great Britain. Called Bartholomew’s Revised “Half-Inch” Contoured Maps.) All Great Britain-62 sheets.

1961-1974 Bartholomew’s Revised Half-Inch Map, Great Britain, called: Bartholomew’s Half-Inch Contoured Great Britain.

1975 – 1999 Bartholomew 1:100,000 Map of Britain. But they stopped comprehensive coverage in the 1980’s as sales dropped. A few popular maps covering popular tourist areas were revised. By the end of the 1990’s the series’ production run finished.

BARTHOLOMEW-STANFORD: Edward Stanford of Charing Cross and Whitehall had bespoke versions of Bartholomew’s maps published to their own high standards. They were dissected and mounted on fine linen. Many features were removed making the maps less cluttered and more attractive. The covers were plainer and cited Stanford and Bartholomew.

Other ways of dating Bartholomew maps:

Road Numbering was first added to sheets in 1921 following its introduction by the Ministry of Transport the previous year.

CTC: Between c1911 and 1928 an arrangement existed between Bartholomew and the Cyclists’ Touring Club for their members to send in any revisions they found to the maps. This was acknowledged by the club logo in the lower border of the map.

Table of prices and increases at the dates, a useful as a guide. Prices are here listed for 1st Paper flat 2nd Paper folded 3rd Cloth folded 4th Dissected & Folded.

“This map has changed opinion about Bartholomew’s maps and their chronology. Most histories claim that the Cyclists’ Touring Club maps were 1920s, or at the very earliest the 19teens, yet here is an example with three unusual features: Firstly it is annotated as follows: “Ron Art(??) Gilbert Rivington, St John’s House Clerkenwell 1907”. Secondly it has not only the appliqué label of the sheet in black are red on the front cover: Sheet 2 South Northumberland Scale 2 miles to an inch”; it also has a similar black and red label at the bottom “Andrews & Co (Warnford Smart). 73,74,75 Saddler’s Street Durham. Thirdly the map has no legend or symbol key on the bottom margin.

One must conclude that some CTC Bartholomew maps were trialled earlier in the Edwardian era, that they were sold via agents who attacked their labels to the from and that the better known series with the symbol key came a decade later.

Note that this example has a small appliqué yellow label on the verso at 1 6d or 1s 8d. I have not seen this label before and the words “The Geographical Institute” are written in an Art Nouveau Script. This movement is dated 1890-1910. It is Sheet 2 of the Reduced Survey of England and Wales. Sheet 1 of the Scottish Reduced Survey was North Northumberland and Borders East Scotland. This is the series in which the Cyclists’ Touring Club of (one thought,the 1920s but it appears the Edwardian Age) chose the roads and classified them. Their logo appears at centre bottom of the sheet in place of the usual Royal Arms. This points to another small but interesting piece of history. It was assumed always that the CTC logo replaced the “By Appointment to the King George V”, but the evidence of this map indicates that the Cyclists’ Touring Club Cooperative maps precede that Royal Appointment. It was always considered odd that a company should scrap a Royal Appointment in favour of a cycle club: here is the explanation.”

1897 2/6 3/6 – 1890 1/- 2/- – 1898 1/- 2/- 2/6 1912 1/6 2/- 2/6 1920 1/6 3/- 4/- 1943 2/6 4/- 5/6 1950 2/6 4/- 6/- 1952 2/6 3/- 6/- 9/- 1953 3/- 3/- 5/- 7/6 1957 3/- 3/- 5/- 10/- 1963 3/- 5/- 10/- 1968 4/- 6/- 12/6 1970 4/- (20p) 6/- (30p) 15/- (75p) 1971 6/- (30p) 8/- (40p) 20/- (£1)

Some aspects of Bartholomew maps distinguished them from OS- tendency to map rivers in black. And railways also in single black line . Geographical maps often using a colour shading method to show altitude from Blue at sea level through shades of green then shades of sienna brown with the darkest as the highest (white at highest points when needed.) This is termed “orographic”- a word used by Bartholomew’s and seldom heard elsewhere- it comes from the Green word for “Hills”. More emphasis on road transport- cycles and cars, with less incidental and historical detail than OS- generally smaller folded format with a cover board of about 8” by 4”- so more of the appearance of a pocket map about many of the series. Back and front boards often not joined but mounted separately on the back of the sheet which folded to concertina the map between the boards- generally an easier map to fold than an OS equivalent. Some have a “third board” set between the end boards which was used to advertise the Pocket Atlas series- this board was sometimes white, sometimes blue. Some maps have up to three verso advertising panels- nearly always blue printed on a yellow background which gives the appearance of green on yellow.

On some maps cartography taken from Ordnance Survey is acknowledged- this map refer to the contours of altitude, which are colour graded in these series but just linear on the OS. The two companies have come to blows over issues of copy write so the co-operation was never complete and perhaps happened only in certain periods. The Ordnance Survey was never acknowledged on C.T.C. Co-operative maps of the 1920s (Cyclists’ Touring Club).

On earlier maps Bartholomew used a grid in minutes of longitude and latitude- In circa 1900 they used 10 minutes of longitude and 15 minutes of latitude which made a rough square grid- later 10 minutes of both longitude and latitude which on these projections made a north-south elongated rectangular grid.

The success of Bartholomew’s maps car drivers and particularly cyclists was demonstrated by their endorsement by the Cyclists’ Touring Club, who edited the maps for their members. This prompted the Ordnance Survey to attempt to capture the same market and having no CTC endorsement, the OS pitched their Pocket Road Maps at motor-cyclists. OS also had a version of Bartholomew’s graded colour to express height in its Traveller Series.

Geographia, which specialised in town maps particularly- was a branch of Bartholomew Map Co..

Post war, Bartholomew produced very fine political maps of foreign regions. Scandinavia is one such fine map. North Africa is another and France and the Low Countries appeared in two sheets individually bound. This was the “Bartholomew’s World Layered Series”. Their General World series had 31 titles:


The family:

George Bartholomew: 1784-1871, but active from 1797, worked as an engraver for Lizars in Edinburgh. His son, the first John Bartholomew,1805 – 1861, began to work independently in 1826, founding the firm . Notable works by him included Black’s General Atlas of 1846.

John (2) Bartholomew (1831–1893) and his son John (3) George Bartholomew (1860–1920) brought the firm to prominence in British cartography. Then John (4) G. Bartholomew made the firm a publisher of its own works, before they had produced maps for other firms. John (5) Ian Bartholomew (1890–1962) oversaw the Times World Atlas 1922 and later the Mid-Century Edition of the Times World Atlas of 1955-60.

The cartographic tradition continued into a fifth family generation. John B Bartholomew 1923–2008, oversaw the publication of some of the most detailed and popular maps of the 20th century.

In 1989, the firm merged with the Glasgow publisher Collins, as part of the Harper-Collins Publishers. The name Bartholomew survives as the trade name of Harper-Collins’ cartographic on-line business – called “Collins Bartholomew”. Their British mapping arm was formerly called Geographia Ltd. It was based in Cheltenham until that office was closed in 2009, and is best known for its town street maps.