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Phillimore’s Definitive History of the Survey of India

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Phillimore’s Definitive History of the Survey of India

Date of publication:

  • 1945-1958
  • Binding:

  • publisher's cloth
  • Phillimore, Colonel Reginald Henry: Historical Records of the Survey of India. Volumes 1 to 4... alas not including the suppressed fifth volume

    Colonel Phillimore (1879-1964) joined the Survey of India in 1903 and briefly acted as Surveyor-General, shortly before his retirement in 1934. Read more

    A founder member of the Himalayan Club, he had great experience of frontier mapping in particular. He opted to say on in India and devoted the remaining thirty years of his life to compiling the definitive account of the Survey: ‘for the first three volumes alone he studied no fewer than seven hundred volumes of manuscript letters and reports and had them indexed and deposited among the State archives in India. He collected information at the India Office Library, the British Museum, and from records in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. He delved into genealogies and family histories, discovered descendants of the old adventurers and was able to make use of much long-forgotten material. The result was a series of five volumes of outstanding historical interest, factually exact but lightened by a human insight into the virtues and frailties of the actors in this period of Indian history’.

    Condition & Materials

    Dehra Dun, Survey of India, 1945-1958. 4 vols. 4to. Vol I, 1945 (18th Century) pp. xx, 400, [xvi] + 21 plates; vol II, 1950 (1800 to 1815) pp. xxviii, 478 + 25 plates; vol III, 1954 (1815 to 1830) pp. xxii, 534 + 24 plates; vol IV, 1958 (1830 to 1843, George Everest) pp. xviii, 493 + 23 plates. The collation of plates includes the map end-papers in each volume; many of the plates are folding, many are printed in colours. Green publisher’s cloth with Survey of India crest (pre- and post-Independence according to date) blocked in gilt on the front covers. Vol I is ex-library, Directorate of Colonial Surveys (later, Directorate of Overseas Surveys) with the usual ink stamps including withdrawal stamp, and shelf mark on the spine. Some wear to bindings, inner hinges of vol II a little weak, vol III bumped at the foot of the spine; vol IV has a tipped in slip, probably clipped from a letter, ‘with the author’s compliments’, signed by Phillimore in blue ballpoint. A fifth volume covering the period to 1861 was published in the year of Phillimore’s death but suppressed by the Indian government, and is all but unobtainable.


    obituary, The Himalayan Journal vol. 26, 1965 Read less