The Bartholomew Archive
Contents and access
The Bartholomew Archive at the National Library of Scotland contains:
- The Bartholomew firm's business records
- The Printing Record and other albums of early printing and engraving work
- Bartholomew printed maps and atlases
- Printed and proof sheets of maps used in map preparation and revision, circa 1865-1984
- Printed sheet maps by other publishers, used as reference material, circa 1821-1992
- The Bartholomew firm's library of atlases and books
- Engraved copper, steel and zinc printing plates, circa 1878-1957
- Glass printing plates, circa 1930-1970.
There is also a separate John Bartholomew Collection of rare and valuable atlases.
You can consult many of these items in our Maps Reading Room in Edinburgh.
Around 100 metres of records document nearly 180 years of the Bartholomew's work and family business. Included are:
- Early notebooks, accounts, manuscript engravings and other documents of George Bartholomew, John Bartholomew senior and John Bartholomew junior
- Extensive production, administrative and financial records and correspondence of John Bartholomew and Co, and John Bartholomew and Son
- Professional papers of John George, John (Ian), and Peter and John C Bartholomew
- Advertisements and reviews of Bartholomew publications and those of other publishers.
The business records also reflect the firm's interaction with geographers, cartographers, scientists, societies, clubs and individuals at home and abroad.
Access: We have a detailed list of the Bartholomew firm's business records. For a complete listing, browse the archive business records inventory (PDF: 144 pages; 365 KB) or view a printed copy in the Maps Reading Room in Edinburgh. Contact Maps Collections in advance for information about using the records for research and reference.
The Printing Record contains a copy of almost everything the firm printed between 1877 and 1995. Each item is annotated with the date of printing and number of copies made. The Bartholomews created a working record by pasting printed sheets onto backing paper and binding them into volumes.
There are also albums containing proof and printed sheets of earlier engraving and printing work. The firm may have used them as samples or for internal reference.
Access: We began conserving and cataloguing items in the Printing Record in 2007, with project funding from the John R Murray Charitable Trust. This work has now been completed. We have conserved 129 volumes, covering 1877-1960, and catalogued 103 volumes, covering 1877-1945.
Bartholomew printed maps and atlases
Over the past 100 years, we have received Bartholomew printed maps and atlases under legal deposit and as gifts from the firm. We now have even more, as part of the Bartholomew Archive, dating from 1826 to 1980. These include large wall maps, atlas proofs (without letterpress), and maps prepared for other publishers.
Access: We intend to catalogue all Bartholomew published maps and atlases and make them available through the National Library's main catalogue. We will need further project funding to complete this, due to the amount of material involved. In the meantime you can view a list of Bartholomew Archive maps and plans (PDF: 62 pages; 165 KB).
Preparation (working copy) maps
A vast collection of up to 16,000 working (preparation) copies of maps and plans complement the Business and Printing records. The firm used these to create and revise Bartholomew atlases and maps. There are also heavily annotated sheets and some drawings, tracings and notes.
Most of the Bartholomew's major projects from 1865 are represented in the archive. These include:
- The Survey Atlas of Scotland
- Geological maps of Scotland, England and Wales
- The Bathymetric Survey of Scottish Lochs
- Maps for oceanographer John Murray's handbooks
- Maps for the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' and 'Statesman's Yearbook'
- Many versions and editions of 'The Times Atlas.'
Access: We have notes on these maps, prepared by John C Bartholomew, and list of Bartholomew Archive maps and plans (PDF: 62 pages; 165 KB). Further listings depend on future project funding. Contact us in advance for information about using these maps for reference and research.
The archive includes an extensive collection of around 4,000 maps by other publishers. The Bartholomews used these for reference. Dating between about 1821 and 1992, the maps cover all areas of the world. However the majority are of Europe, England and Scotland.
Access: We have organised the maps geographically and created a selective selective list of Bartholomew Archive maps and plans (PDF: 62 pages; 165 KB). Full cataloguing depends on future project funding. Contact us in advance for information about using these maps for reference and research.
The Bartholomew firm's library
The Bartholomews kept a reference library to help them with their map compilation and revision. As well as file copies of their own publications it includes:
- Atlases, maps and gazetteers from other publishers in Britain and elsewhere
- Guides, handbooks, and geography textbooks
- Papers from cartographic and related congresses, conferences and workshops
- Technical literature relating to printing.
Access: We intend to catalogue these publications and make them available on the National Library's main catalogue. So far we have catalogued around 1,100 out of the 3,000 or so items received. These are available for reference. We are continuing to catalogue the remaining items as resources allow.
Engraved copper plates
In 1995 the National Library of Scotland bought the firm's collection of some 3,000 metal engraved plates. Most are copper, but there are also some steel and zinc plates. The plates were engraved between about 1878 and the 1960s and they range widely in size. Our collection includes illustrations, patch, border and pattern plates, lettering, rulings and grids as well as complete maps and plans.
Access: We received plate listings with the archive (inventory series 460-472). You can view the list in plate order and in box order. Contact us in advance for information about using the copper plates for reference and research.
Glass printing plates
We received a collection of around 6,000 glass printing plates as part of the archive.
The collection includes groups of maps to be printed on a single sheet, plates for single colour printings, and outline, insert and correction plates. Each plate is marked with a work title and printing instruction (e.g. '4th side left, right grip').
Access: There is no complete register of the glass printing plates, but we do have some internal lists. Because of identification and handling difficulties, you may only access the glass plates in special circumstances. Contact us in advance for more information.
The John Bartholomew Collection
John (Ian) Bartholomew's family donated 37 antiquarian atlases to the National Library in 1995 in his memory. The atlases date between 1525 and 1865. John (Ian) Bartholomew was a Trustee of the National Library of Scotland. He was also influential in setting up the Map Room – later to become the Map Library, and now the Maps Reading Room – in 1958. You can read more about the founding of the Map Library in issue 9 of Discover NLS magazine (PDF: 18 pages; 1.4 MB).
Access: The John Bartholomew Collection has been fully catalogued under shelfmark 'Bart'. Search for details in the National Library's main catalogue.
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