Altlases of Empire
I seem to have a good selection of atlases of the British Empire at the moment: Thematic atlases became especially popular in the later nineteenth-century, pioneered by firms such as W. & A.K. Johnston and Bartholomew. Here’s an example of an 1877 empire atlas by the latter: Internally it’s fairly functional, and like so many of these atlases it seems to be aimed at younger readers. Royal events seem to have been a spur to atlas production. The Queen’s Jubilee Atlas in the top photo was published by Johnston to celebrate Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, while this undated atlas of the empire of Edward VII (with maps by George Philip & Sons) was probably published soon after Edward’s coronation in 1902 (this example was given as a prize for regular attendance at the Irwell Street Mission, Salford, in 1905): Bisiker’s atlas of the British Empire (and Japan) was published in 1909 (Japan is included in parentheses in the title, but as the preface explains “Japan, as the ally of the Empire, has a place beside it”). Each map is accompanied by a montage of appropriate photographic images. This map covers the “smaller British possessions” scattered across the globe which were not granted a full page elsewhere, including Aden, Cyprus, the Falklands, Malta, Bahrein, Singapore and Tonga. The photographs include a Cyprian sheep, a Pictish tower on Shetland and a Solomon Islander: Black’s 1910 Diagrammatic Atlas of the British Empire was “expressly designed for the elementary school”, cheaply but strikingly printed in black and white: This miniature Atlas of the British Empire was created by Stanford’s for Queen Mary’s Doll’s House; shown here next to an old halfpenny for the purposes of scale, this is the commercial edition. The original was displayed at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition where the Doll’s House showcased the best of British art, manufacture and design. The house was designed by Lutyens, a Rolls Royce was parked in the garage, the wine was bottled by Berry Bros and Rudd, books in the library were bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe and art by MacDonald Gill and John Nash hung on the walls. Stanford’s was the natural choice to publish the atlas: It’s perfect in every detail, fully functional: Of course, the British weren’t the only ones publishing atlases of empire. Here’s a German colonial atlas of 1908: Newly unified Germany came late to the concept of empire, but it swiftly became a matter of national prestige. Here’s Kaiser Bill’s ’place in the sun’ in its entirety: And here’s part of Cameroon, German between 1884 and 1916: Here’s a French colonial atlas of 1890, open at the Kerguelen (or Desolation) Islands, which are still part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, and French Indo-China: French colonial atlases seem to be relatively uncommon, but presumably this is due to the French practice of treating overseas territories as an integral part of the French Republic, an extension of Metropolitan France. By the mid nineteenth-century, maps of French colonies were given equal billing with the mainland departments in national atlases by Levasseur, Migeon and others. Although British world atlases were sometimes weighted towards greater coverage of imperial possessions (Stanford’s London Atlas is a prime example) atlases of of Great Britain tend to stick within the geographical confines of the British Isles. Detailed, regionally specific atlases form an extensive subset of the genre. Here’s another W. & A.K. Johnston publication, an 1894 atlas of India: Or there’s this 1929 mandate-era Government of Iraq publication, which was clearly meant to be of practical use on the spot (a label on the front pastedown specifies: “the solution used in binding this book has been specially prepared to render the work impervious to the ravages of insects”): So far we’ve been looking at European empires. During the nineteenth-century most US expansion had been into the interior of the continent, manifest destiny in the American West, but one should certainly include this atlas of the Philippines. It was published under a joint Manila and Washington imprint in 1899-1900, shortly after the islands were formally ceded to the US by Spain and during the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902: A huge topic, this. I’m sure it will be worth revisiting.