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Ordnance Survey catalogues

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The Ordnance Survey began issuing ‘catalogues of the maps and plans and other publications’ in three series which listed separately the maps and plans of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland. A common list of the ‘other publications’ of a more general application appeared in all three catalogues. The earliest catalogue for each country listed publications to 31 December 1862, and following these, for nearly sixty years, there was first an irregular, then a largely regular pattern of new issues, until, in 1920, publication ceased. Other than a single new issue in 1924, there were no further catalogues in Great Britain until the modern sequence began in 1967. Occasional catalogues were published by the newly independent Ordnance Surveys in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

There was a change of policy in 1902 when the small-scale maps of all three countries were separated from the large and combined in a new independent publication. But two issues only of this small scales catalogue were to appear before the Ordnance Survey abandoned it, adding instead this combined list of small-scale maps ahead of the large in each of the three large scales catalogues.

In parallel with the catalogues themselves, the Ordnance Survey issued regular, usually monthly, supplements to the catalogues. Their title varied over the years, but not their function – or importance, which is that they have throughout provided the bedrock evidence for dating the publication of any new Ordnance Survey product, ironically including the only known evidence in some cases of new editions of the catalogues themselves.

The Charles Close Society is presenting this union list of known copies of these catalogues as one of a series in which it is intended that comprehensive details of all the serial publications of the Ordnance Survey will be permanently available to anyone who requires access to this information. Some of the information presented is still in provisional form, and this will be updated as time, and further sources, permit.

It will immediately be obvious that in many cases there are no known copies of some editions of these catalogues, and that there remain instances of unlikely gaps in the sequence of dates which suggest the existence of further editions. No doubt contemporary users of the catalogues acted as many would today, by simply throwing away a superseded edition on receipt of an updated one. The society would welcome information from the owners of any issue of these catalogues, and especially those holding unrecorded editions, so that this union listing may be made the more complete – at least until about 1965. Since then the catalogues naturally become progressively more common, and a union list of recent issues is thus impractical.

Geological Survey catalogues
The Geological Survey soon followed the example of the Ordnance Survey, and issued their first catalogue in 1863. From the start the same catalogue covered publications in all parts of the United Kingdom. These seem to have been updated relatively frequently until 1884, after which they formed what is apparently the sixth section of a larger publication. This arrangement ended in 1901, when Geological Survey sales were transferred to the Ordnance Survey. The Ordnance Survey became responsible for issuing supplements to the Geological Survey catalogue, something they continued to do until 1990, but publication by the Geological Survey of the catalogues themselves continued until 1937. Publications relevant to geology in Ireland were removed in 1925.

It appears that there were no more full catalogues until the start of the modern sequence in 1986, though new publications were notified in a Government document – List No.45, which made frequent, possibly annual, appearances from 1950 to at least 1986.

There were occasional catalogues separately describing publications in Scotland and Ireland, few of which have so far been recorded.

Other catalogues
The sale of Ordnance Survey and Geological Survey maps was a central part of the business of their official agents from William Faden onwards, and pre-first world war catalogues issued by these firms highlighting these maps form the penultimate, as yet provisional, section of this list.

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