facebook oxfordmapsfblogo montage6 - aug 31 2015

John Bartholomew and Co. of Edinburgh offered an attractive alternative to the maps of the Ordnance Survey.


The most obvious difference was the cover design, with the OS preferring red and Bartholomew's generally staying with blue from the end of the 19th century until the 1960s.


Beyond the cosmetic, Bartholomew's tended to specialise in half-inch maps, compared to the OS's one-inch scale. As a result, Bartholomew's maps have far less detail than OS but they are arguably more decorative with very vibrant colours.

Half inch = one mile



At first glance, the covers of the Bartholomew's maps from the early 20th century are very similar. But a closer look reveals several differences.


In the early 1920s, the target market switched from 'Tourists and Cyclists' (1) to 'Motorists and Cyclists' (2.) Also, the former was described as 'New Reduced Survey' and the latter was 'Half Inch to Mile.'


At the end of the 1920s, Bartholomew's published the 'Revised Half Inch' map which divided Great Britain into 62 sheets. The cover was redesigned (3) and, although there were several variations in colours and lettering in the 1930s (4) and 1940s (5), the general design remained in place until the 1960s.


In the 1920s and 30s, Bartholomew's also published some half-inch maps with an orange-brown cover (6) and these are particular rare and highly collectable.  

Quarter inch = one mile

At the end of the nineteenth century, Bartholomew's published a four-inch to the mile Road Map which split England and Wales into 12 sheets. The blue cover was very similar to the half-inch maps of the same era.



The late-1930s saw the publication of the 'Automobile Map of Great Britain' which divided the country, now including Scotland, into 23 sheets.

Bartholomew's broke with tradition and chose yellow for the cover.

1897quarterinch 1939quarterinch 1924aberystwyth 1924essex 1929dorset 1932 exmoor 1946midscotland bartsbrown