Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Recently bought this stash of lovely Bartholomew and Geographia maps which mostly date from the 1940s.

I love these old maps, especially the Bartholomew's Revised "Half-inch" Contoured Maps, which were printed on gorgeous cloth. Although the Kent map is on paper as it was produced during the War in 1942, when on the back they had a 'Utility Map Fold' explanation on how to not rip them!

I've picked out the Devonshire and East Cornwall map by Geographia to have a closer look at.
It has a distinctive orange/salmon colour and oddly covers Devon and only part of Cornwall. You would've had to buy Map No. 15 if you wanted to see the rest of Cornwall!

When spread out it does look impressive though. And as the land mass is only in white, and with clear and large type for the place names, it makes it much clearer to follow than the Bartholomew maps.

Here is north Devon and Ilfracombe, a place I know very well.

And tucked away in the left hand corner is the mysterious Lundy Island. Although only a tiny island it still manages to have loads of names attached to it. I especially like the Mousehole & Trap!

I always like to know when a map was made.
Geographia use a curious dating system on their maps, while Barthlolomew use a fairly simple letter and numbers to date theirs. 
For Bartholomew maps, using the example 'A 35', meant the map was produced in 1935, with the A denoting the first half of the year from January to June. 
'B 35' would simply be the second half of the year 1935 from July to December.

Geographia however use a very odd way!
With a series of letters you can decipher the month and year it was produced using the word CUMBERLAND.

On the map shown above it has the letters CU MN.

Using the secret code you can tell it was made in December 1939.

But how does it work?!
Here goes ...

C = 1
U = 2
M = 3
B = 4
E = 5
R = 6
L = 7
A = 8
N = 9
D = 0

The first two letters are the month of the year, so CU gives you the numbers 1 and 2, putting them together would be 12, meaning December!

Last two are the year, MN is the numbers 3 and 9, put together is 39, giving you the year 1939.

Phew, its a bit convoluted isn't it?!

Michelin maps have a similarly bizarre code to crack, I wonder why they all made it so difficult??
Although Bartholomew started to print the month and year at the bottom of their maps from the late 40s onwards.

So if you have a few old maps knocking around, see if you can work out those dates!

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