Colorful rare miniature map of Central Africa, transfer printed on domed ceramic paperweight base. This unusual cartographic curiosity, manufactured by (or for) map publisher John G. Bartholomew in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 19th century is a document of European colonialism in that era. The map includes most of the African continent, centered on the Congo, with simple cartography, colored in shades of yellow, blue, green, red and pink. Major rivers, oceans, lakes and several port cities are indicated. Some countries are named, and others are labeled with colonial designations such as British East Africa, German East Africa, German Damara Land, French Congo, British Niger Company, and French Sphere of Influence. Present-day Egypt is called Nubia, and Ethiopia is called Abyssinia.
The registration mark (a numbered identification insignia imprinted on most British ceramics in that period) is 141265, indicating a production date of 1889. It is the same number as a similar paperweight of the Western Hemisphere, also with a map by Bartholomew and manufactured by James Macintyre & Co. The 1889 date of that item is confirmed by the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, which holds the archive of the Bartholomew firm, and found that the original order for two copperplates by Bartholemew was recorded on Aug 28, 1889: “Engr the reverse way for transf to pottery the 2 hemispheres World for £5 as per quote. Delivered Oct. 22 .” The British Royal Niger Company, which appears on the map, was in existence from 1886 to the end of 1899, consistent with the dating of the paperweight. The publication credit under the title reads, “J.G. Bartholomew, F.R.G.S.,” which means “Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society,” a British society for the advancement of the study of geography.
The cream-colored ceramic base has incurved sides, repeating incised geometric border patterns, and red line painted decorations. The underside is stamped “MACINTYRE,” i.e. James Macintyre & Co, manufacturers of earthenware at Burslem, one of the six towns that amalgamated to form the current city of Stoke-on-Trent, in the ceremonial county of Staffordshire, in the Midlands of England, overall the center of ceramic production in Britain. This indicates that Macintyre manufactured the paperweight for (or in conjunction with) Bartholomew, who supplied the map.
John Bartholomew & Son, Ltd. has been publishing maps and atlases from the 19th century to the present day. Its founder, John G. Bartholomew (1831-1893), was a Scottish cartographer, mapmaker and publisher. He also helped to found the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He was trained by his father, who had a cartographical establishment in Edinburgh. After working as the assistant to the German geographer August Petermann, he took over management of his father’s firm in I856. Hs Edinburgh Geographical Institute built a reputation in Great Britain for the production of the finest cartographical work, including a notable series of contour maps of Great Britain derived from the Ordnance Survey. After John Bartholomew’s death, the firm continued to have a distinguished reputation in map publishing, receiving international recognition for their cartography for the Times Atlas (1895) and during the 20th century for The Times Survey Atlas and The Times Atlas of the World.
Condition: Generally fine, with usual expected light wear and abrasions, and with a miniscule chip above the “R” in Central and another to one of the raised dots on the incurved side.
Birks, Steve. “James Macintyre & Co.” Ceramic Marks: North Staffordshire Pottery Companies and Trade Marks. http://www.thepotteries.org/mark/m/macintyre.html (7 March 2011).
Jamieson, Kerr. “The Royal Scottish Geographical Society: The Society’s History.” Royal Scottish Geographical Society. 10 February 2003. http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/~rsgs/history.html (3 April 2003).
“John Bartholomew.” The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia. Online at: http://82.1911encyclopedia.org/B/BA/BARTHOLOMEW_JOHN.htm (3 April 2003).
Potter, Jonathan. Collecting Antique Maps: An introduction to the history of cartography. London: Jonathan Potter, Ltd., 1988 rev. 1999. pp. 191-192.
Webster, Diana, Map Collections Manager, National Library of Scotland. E-mail correspondence to George Glazer Gallery. December 2006.