Paper used for Bartholomew maps

Paper is perhaps the most fundamental part of every Bartholomew map and atlas. But there is more to paper than you might at first expect. Every element of a Bartholomew map was carefully considered, and the paper was no exception.

There are many different types of paper. Paper can be made out of a variety of materials, including wood, cloth and grasses. It comes in a range of different thicknesses and levels of quality. Different types of paper affect the look and feel of the finished map and they can even behave differently during the printing process; understanding paper was one of the skills of Bartholomew's printing team.

John Bartholomew & Son stored their paper in the relatively stable climate of the basement because it helped avoid some of the problems that heat and humidity could cause, such as making paper stretch or warp.

Sourced mostly in Scotland

Bartholomew sourced their paper via paper merchants and agents. They used a number of companies, most of which were Scottish. Until relatively recently, Scotland boasted an extensive paper industry, which was of great benefit to companies like Bartholomew as it allowed them to source many of their products locally.

Some of the paper mills Bartholomew routinely purchased paper from included Alexander Cowan and Sons, based in Penicuik, William Sommerville and Son, and Cowan & Co of Edinburgh. They sourced high quality paper, which might be used for a limited edition set of prints, from Tallis Russell, one of the few paper mills Bartholomew used that is still in operation today.

Supply and quality affected by events

Paper was a valuable commodity and Bartholomew kept numerous records specifically about their paper stock. The records reveal how Bartholomew's paper supply could be affected by local, national or even global events.

The First and Second World Wars are perhaps the best examples of this. Paper was requisitioned for the war effort, making it increasingly difficult for firms like Bartholomew to acquire any. As the First World War (1914-1918) progressed there was a general deterioration in the quality of paper Bartholomew was using. By 1918, many of Bartholomew's maps were printed on paper little thicker than tracing paper.

Experimenting with other material

Bartholomew were keen to experiment with innovative news types of paper and other printing media. In 1963, Bartholomew produced a sample half-inch map printed on latex. (See Cornwall map image.) Although the finished product was crisp and durable, Bartholomew did not pursue this medium for long.

One innovation they did persevere with was Pegamoid cloth. Pegamoid was a naturally derived material, similar to celluloid, that when applied to cloth or paper made it water resistant and inflammable. Again, Bartholomew experimented with this for their half-inch maps, but were forced to discontinue the line as it proved unpopular with the public.


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