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A guide to the online catalogue


The works are presented in rough chronological order, grouped roughly into 16 categories based around conflicts. Each work only appears once in the catalogue, and so in cases where the work could be classed in more than one category (for example, in the Thirty Years War and the Franco-Spanish War), it is advisable to check in both sections for related material. Where possible, volumes have been included in one section to give a sense of the whole work, even if, again, some works relate to different conflicts located elsewhere in the catalogue.

Searching is possible both by keyword (i.e. all mentions of the word 'London') and as a facetted search, for place names, people and events.

Further information

More information on the fields is given below:

  1. The name of the principal creator (with his/her dates in parentheses).
  2. A geographical heading and the year of any event being portrayed.
  3. A transcription of the original title of the item, with line endings shown by a forward slash. The date of execution of the item is given at the end in a smaller font. A full transcription of all the text on the map is given elsewhere in the entry.
  4. A description of the materials from which the item is made, including mounting, binding and pagination using the terminology given in Greenfield 2007.
  5. A scale: this is expanded and explained below.
  6. The Royal Collection Inventory Number (RCIN). This is the unique reference by which the work is referred to.
  7. In nearly all cases, as well as the lead thumbnail image, a 'Detailed Object Viewer' is presented. This opens in a new window, presenting the highest resolution image available for zooming and exploration. Where a catalogue entry has multiple pages or parts, it is also where the rest of the work can be viewed. These images are available as IIIF manifests.
  8. Notes: On the historical context of the item together with any other relevant information.

    The name and date(s) of the event, and the conflict/theatre of war (shown in italics) to which it belongs; the principal military commanders and their dates are given together with the outcome of the event where relevant.

    The orientation of the map in the form ‘compass direction to top'. Thus: 'north-east to top'; 'south to top'; 'west-south-west to top’. If the orientation is present on the map it is described either as 'compass rose', which is a representation of more than the four cardinal points and may take the form of an elaborate design, or as 'cardinal points' where two to four cardinal points are indicated.

    Dates are given in New Style. If the date on the item is given in Old Style (until 1752 Britain’s system of dating, using the Julian calendar, was 11 days behind that of western Europe which used the Gregorian calendar), this appears in the main transcription of the title.

    Also given here is any additional information on the production of the item and its history.

    Modern place-names are given where this is not obvious from the original orthography; the name is given first, as it appears on the map followed by the modern rendering in parentheses together with its geographical co-ordinates.

    The names of any regiments and officers that are written on the map (usually battle plans, encampment maps and orders of battle) are transcribed here in the form in which they appear on the map. Titles are omitted; only military ranks are given.

    An attempt has been made to identify any coats of arms depicted on the item (occasionally this is given in the title transcription area).

  9. People: this lists the creators and their dates, and their role in the production of the item, and includes a transcription of any information on the item that identifies the creator, together with its position on the object. A question mark is used to indicate any uncertainty about the identity of the creator. Also listed here are any dedicatees.
  10. Physical properties: the information about the item as an artefact, rather than an image, including:

    The presence of watermarks, with a brief description of their appearance and, where possible, their identification with entries in the standard works on watermarks. Because of the backing material it has not always been possible to see watermarks: ‘None visible’ is used to indicate uncertainty but where it has been possible to be certain that no watermark is present, the term ‘none’ is used.

    Other marks: usually numbers stamped in black ink on the recto of the item, possibly added in 1968 when the maps and Cumberland Papers were microfilmed.

    Observations on the condition that were made before conservation, the aim being to illustrate the use to which the object has been put in the past and the way in which it has been handled before entering the collection or during the early years of its presence in the collection; for example, water-stained patches indicating the removal of Cumberland's cipher labels and dirt patterns on the verso that show how the item was formerly stored, folded or carried in a coat pocket or dispatch case. Pressure marks from the mounts of items which were kept above and below a map/print in a different collection are recorded if present.

  11. Measurements:

    Scales: these are transcribed exactly as they appear on the map. Where there is a scale bar, the statement of scale is preceded by the words 'Scale bar:' followed by a colon. A measurement in millimetres is given for the scale bar, and this is inserted, in square brackets with an equals sign, either in the body of the transcription, if this makes reading sense, or at the end of the transcription.

    The scale statement is given as shown on the map in the form of a Representative Fraction (RF): e.g. 1:12,500. If it is not stated on the map, the RF has been calculated from any scale bar or written statement on the map (e.g. ‘One Inch represents 400 Yards'). Where the scale statement is given in words, these are also reproduced.

    Where archaic units of measurement are used (such as Toise or Verst), these are converted to millimetres to calculate the RF. Where there is no indication of scale, the words 'Scale not stated' are given before the RF, which has been calculated by measuring a given distance on the map and comparing it with a map of known scale. In such cases, 'approx.' is written after the calculation, indicating that the RF is only a rough guide to the scale of the map, which may have suffered from physical, distortions. Here no scale statement is given.

    Graphics with scales of 1:5,000 or larger are referred to as plans in the descriptive notes area. Those with scales smaller than 1:5,000 are called maps.

    Dimensions: as many as five measurements may be given in the form height ×  width in centimetres:

    The neatline: the inner edge of a map or view: usually a fine black framing line.

    The image: the outer limits of the drawn or printed image, to include any writing outside the map/view/print area.

    The platemark: the impressions left from the edges of the copperplate as it was pressed onto the paper during the printing process. Many of the early prints and maps have been cropped to the edge of the image, leaving no trace of a platemark. Where this has happened the formula ‘cropped’ is used.

    The sheet: the whole piece of paper (occasionally, silk or vellum) on which the item is produced.

    The mount: a paper or card mount, where this is present.
  12. Transcriptions - The title is transcribed in the language and alphabet of the original. Where the title is given in two or more languages, these are transcribed and separated by a double forward slash. Where there is no title, the words 'No title' are used and they may be followed by a supplied title in square brackets.

    Punctuation is transcribed exactly as it appears on the item where this is possible. An exception to this rule is made in the case of superscript letters which are placed immediately after the punctuation. Upper-case letters are rendered in upper case. No attempt is made to differentiate between different sizes of upper case. Italicised words are rendered in roman type.

    Where a smaller map or diagram or other graphic is placed within the body of the main map as an inset, the title, if any, is transcribed (if there is no title, one is supplied in square brackets). The scale is given where stated and the measurements of the neatline are given.

    Any text supplementary to the title and creator statements is transcribed. This can take the form of an account of a battle, or general operational descriptions, as well as lists of regiments and officers and equipment, explanations or keys to the map, etc. The position of the text is given in square brackets followed by a direct transcription or (where this is too substantial or complex) a summary in square brackets.

    The George III heading (formerly ‘old heading’) is transcribed as given on the recto or verso. This corresponds to the entry for the item in the red leather-bound catalogue as compiled by George III’s librarian in the early nineteenth century, which sometimes contains information not present on the item itself. The catalogue entry is also transcribed, preceded by the heading under which it is given in the catalogue, underlined, but without any indication of line endings. Cross references in the George III catalogue are indicated by text in square brackets: e.g. ‘[The same entry appears under the heading Mantua.]’.

    Most of the items have additional annotations in pencil, red pencil, or ink that have been made over at least 250 years (even earlier in the case of items from the dal Pozzo collection) and all of these are recorded exactly as they appear on the item, with line endings indicated by a forward slash. The position of the inscription on the item, and the medium in which they are written, are given in square brackets before the transcription. The transcriptions on the recto are given first, then those on the verso. Where there are no ‘other annotations’ the word ‘None’ is used.

    Dummy sheets were inserted into the Solander boxes in place of an oversize item which had to be stored elsewhere, usually as a roll. The information on these is transcribed, giving the title of the item in full, together with any other information on the sheet, the watermark, which is often dated and forms a useful guide to the period in which the original cataloguing process took place, and the size of the sheet (height × width, given in centimetres).

  13. Provenance: this statement identifies any previous owners of the item.

  14. Places: The place-name is given that is most directly associated with the map, print or text. It is given in the form that is most commonly used in twentieth- and twenty-first-century narrative histories (e.g.  Raucoux, not Rocourt; Madras, not Chennai; Gulf of Arta, not Gulf of Amvrakikós Kolpos, Chotzemitz, not Chocenice, Schweidnitz, not Świdnica). The place-name is followed by the major administrative unit within which it falls (e.g. county, Bundesland, département, kraj, etc.) and then the country. The geographical co-ordinates are given in degrees, minutes and seconds.

  15. References: The key works of reference utilised in producing the entry