Maps and views blog

Cartographic perspectives from our Map Librarians

Introduction

Our earliest map appears on a coin made in the Roman Empire and our latest appears as pixels on a computer screen. In between we have the most complete set of Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain, the grand collection of an 18th-century king, secret maps made by the Soviet army as well as the British government, and a book that stands taller than the average person. Read more

11 May 2022

Remigius Hogenberg's view of Münster

An early print from the British Library’s map collection is currently on display at the Stadtmuseum Münster in an exhibition entitled Münster 1570: History and stories from the capital of Westphalia.

It is a panorama of the town of Münster executed in 1570 by the Flemish artist Remigius Hogenberg (c. 1536 - 1588), and based on a drawn panorama of 1569 by Hermann tom Ring (1521-1596).

Maps 189.b.10
Westvaliae Metropolis Monasteriũ. R. Hogenbergus sculpsit. [Münster, 1570]. Maps 189.b.10.

It shows the Westphalia capital from the south west, with the main churches dominating the skyline and various domestic structures arranged behind the town walls. Outside these walls Hogenberg presents a range of human activity. To the left carts enter the town, whilst to the right in the foreground, figures swim in the River Aa. Some can be seen getting undressed, one needs help in doing so. A dog stands guard over a pile of clothes. This sort of foreground vignette is a typical feature of later 16th century town views, not only entertaining for the viewer but demonstrating that places are about more than their buildings.

Maps 189.b.10 detail
A detail showing people bathing in the River Aa

As a snapshot of a place at a particular time, the panorama is understandably of great historical value to the town. It was produced only decades after the Anabaptist rebellion of 1534-5, in which a radical reformation sect took over, enforcing religious conformity, seizing possessions and religiously-motivated destruction. The rebellion was eventually put down and the leaders executed, their bodies placed into three iron cages hung on the tower of St. Lambert’s church. The cages, which are still in situ today, are shown in the print just above the lancet windows of the church tower. 

Maps 189.b.10 detail 2
Detail showing St. Lambert's church with three cages attached to the tower

Remigius Hogenberg, who produced the print while resident in Münster, presented a proof copy of it to the town council on 26 May 1570. However, this is lost and the British Library’s example, purchased in 1868 from the Berlin book dealer Adolphus Asher, is the only copy known to survive. As well as exhibiting the original, the Stadtmuseum exhibition has skilfully incorporated the image into their design and graphics.

stadtmuseum Münster, entrance to the Münster 1570 exhibition
Stadtmuseum Münster, entrance to the Münster 1570 exhibition. Picture credit: Stadtmuseum Münster, Foto: Sarah Kottmeier

Remigius was born in Mechelen in modern-day Belgium. He was in England by 1572, and alongside other continental artists such as Cornelis de Hooghe and Jodocus Hondius was responsible for producing various engravings there, including maps. For example, Remigius engraved nine of Christopher Saxton’s county maps (see his Lancashire, below), as well as the frontispiece for the 1579 atlas which included them.

Saxton Lancashire Maps C.3.bb.5.
Lancastriæ comitatus palatin vera et absoluta descriptio. Anno D.ni. 1577 / Christophorus Saxton descripsit. Remigius Hogenbergius sculpsit. London, 1577. Maps C.3.bb.5.

Despite Remigius’s fame, he remains arguably less-well known than his engraver-brother Frans (c. 1540-1590). With Georg Braun, Frans produced the first town atlas, the Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, published in Cologne between 1572 and 1617. Among the contents is a smaller and more subdued version of the panorama of Münster, copied from his brother's.

800px-MuensterRemiusHogenberg1570
Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg, MONASTERIUM urbs in media Westphalia...,from Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, volume 1, Cologne,1572. Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MuensterRemiusHogenberg1570.jpg

Münster 1570: History and stories from the capital of Westphalia is at the Stadtmuseum Münster until 25 September 2022.

03 March 2022

Georeferencing maps from George III’s atlases and albums

The second tranche of maps from George III’s Topographical Collection have been released onto the Georeferencer platform recently and the platform is already a hive of activity! British Library colleagues have selected the 7891 images that depict maps from the 32,000 that comprise George III’s collection of atlases and albums of views, plans, diagrams, reports and surveys, produced between 1550 and 1820. You can find out more about the images themselves in this blog post.

Jansson Britain and Ireland map georeferenced
Georeferenced map of Great Britain and Ireland from Jan Jansson's Novus Atlas, 1649 (Maps 9.TAB.4) available here (https://britishlibrary.georeferencer.com/maps/18318d9e-f7ad-4265-8d55-05fe59875567/view)

There are some beautiful maps to georeference including multi-sheet maps in loose or bound format including Turgot’s plan of Paris,  Morgan’s map of LondonPeter Andre’s EssexFry & Jefferson’s VirginiaPratt’s Ireland and Müller’s Bohemia.

If you are new to the Georeferencer head over to our ‘how to use’ page (https://www.bl.uk/help/how-to-use-the-georeferencer) where you can find detailed instructions.

As ever, please do note that it might not be possible to georeference all the images as it is very likely that some plans of mines, topographic views, images of the moon and other oddities may have crept in. I would be grateful if you could pass on any URLs for such material to georeferencer@bl.uk and I will try to remove them. Thanks for your help with this, much appreciated.

I hope you enjoy georeferencing the maps, why not head over to the platform (http://britishlibrary.georeferencer.com/start) and give it a go!

Selected Georeferencer links to maps mentioned in the text:

Turgot’s plan of Paris (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu4utabu22up002

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu4utabu22up005

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu4utabu22up008

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu4utabu22up011

)

Morgan’s map of London (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu2u1u9

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu2u1u10

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu2u1u11

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu2u1u12

)

Peter Andre’s Essex (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu1uindex

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu1u001

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu1u002

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu1u003

)

Fry & Jefferson’s Virginia (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu3u2-001

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu3u2-002

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu3u2-003

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu188ulu3u2-004

)

Pratt’s Ireland (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu4u001

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu4u002

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu4u003

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/mapsu175utu4u004

)

Müller’s Bohemia (

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/118uau3u2-001

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/118uau3u2-002

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/118uau3u3-001

http://british-library.georeferencer.com/id/118uau3u3-002

)

With thanks to Joan Francis for her help in making the maps available.

Gethin Rees

 

21 February 2022

PhD placement opportunity - Japanese maps

The Map collection is offering a 3-month placement for a PhD candidate to work with the British Library’s collection of pre-1900 Japanese produced maps. With the deadline for applications fast approaching this Friday 25th February, here is a final attempt to whet your appetites.

The collection of 350 Japanese-produced maps is one of the finest held outside of Japan. It includes printed and hand-drawn maps of the world, East Asia, Japan itself and its various subdivisions, towns and coasts, dating from the 17th 18th and 19th centuries. It includes route maps, bird’s-eye views, administrative maps, military maps and historical maps. Some of them are rather large.

Or75f13
Nihonkoku oezu, by an anonymous mapmaker. Woodblock, published between 1684-1688. Ex-Kaempfer collection. Or.75.f.13.

A number of the maps came to the British Museum, now British Library, via the founding collection of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) in the 1750s. Sloane had acquired the Japanese-related collections of Englebert Kaempfer (1651-1716) in the mid-1720s, who had collected them during his time in Japan, working as a doctor for the Dutch East India Company. Many other maps formed part of the collection of Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), which was purchased by the British Museum in 1868.

Maps25b29
Kyo oezu [A Large map of Kyoto]. Manuscript, produced in 1826. Maps 25.b.29.

Today the maps are split between two areas. The majority are held in the map collection (part of Western Heritage Collections), which contains over 4 million maps and global coverage of the period 1540 to 2022. A smaller number of maps are held in the Library’s Japanese collections, a section of the Asian and African Department.

Japanese map imaging studio
Maps 25.b.29 being photographed by British Library imaging technician Carl Norman in 2018.

Catalogue records for the maps are available on Explore the British Library, and the collection was digitised in partnership with Ritsumeikan University in 2019 (and can be viewed on their MapWarper here).

The key aims for this placement are the enhancement of the maps’ cataloguing data. This will include collecting key physical and cartographic information from the maps, such as dimensions and annotations, that have not previously been recorded, and improving terminology and adding translations to improve the collection’s discoverability. There will be opportunities to write and research, work with curators and British Library staff from a variety of areas, gain insights and training, and receive some strong learning and development experiences.

Once again, the deadline for applications is this Friday at 5pm. For further details go here and scroll down to download the full project profile.