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Covers Online

The standard work on OS covers is Map Cover Art by John Paddy Browne, published by Ordnance Survey in 1991 and long out of print. 

The Charles Close Society is now creating a comprehensive collection of OS map covers, based (by kind permission) on the indexing system devised by Roger Hellyer for the book.

 This is a long-term ongoing project which will be developed and enhanced as more examples become available. The collection is organised by section, arranged roughly chronologically, as listed below. Each section has a page with the information described below and links to images.

 Reference numbers in square brackets and artists' initials are explained here 

The sections are:

The first Ordnance Survey covers were cloth-coated, and were intended almost entirely for general purposes. The remnant of this tradition survived until 1959 on Isles of Scilly, 1933. Such covers were issued on maps at scales from 25 inches to the mile to 25 miles to the inch. Many of these would have been issued in thin paper envelopes, some with Fisher Unwin's imprint. 

THE INTER-WAR YEARS, 1919-1939 Relatively few maps remained in Ordnance Survey general purpose covers. For most, new pictorial designs, individually styled to establish a separate identity for each map series, were created. Adhesive cards were generally used, and on extant maps these were often glued onto ex-military stock, and a few were even glued to pre-war hinged covers. Paper book-fold covers were briefly revived on some cloth Half-inch and One-inch Third and Popular Edition maps, and were in standard use on paper maps. Hinged covers regained their popularity in 1930, to be superseded by the current “Bender” fold (named after its inventor, not its method of folding) for non-dissected maps from 1938, though they did not finally disappear until 1962. N.B. The term “District Map” is conventional, and before the 1930’s was only used as part of the map or cover title. Phraseology such as “Parts of Sheets...” or “Special Sheet” was preferred for sheet designation


 EXTENSION LIST of additonal covers published with Sheetlines 31 in September 1991 

  1. OS in black or white. Includes numbers 300 to 309. 
  2. OS in frame. Includes numbers 310 to 319. 
  3. OS with Blue/Red background. Includes numbers 320 to 329 
  1. With some photographic elements. Includes numbers 330 to 359 
  2. No OS symbols. Includes numbers 360 to 399 
  • Photographic covers:- 
  1. OS in black or white. Includes numbers 400 to 419. 
  2. OS in frame. Includes numbers 420 to 439. 
  3. OS with Blue/Red background. Includes numbers 440 to 479. 
  4. No OS symbols. Includes numbers 480 to 499. 
  5. New Symbol 2015. Includes numbers 500 + 


APPENDIX 1 Ireland 


Books & Booklets 



Manoeuvres and Training maps 


APPENDIX 4 Leaflets 
Leaflets are listed in chronological order by printcode where present. Click any image to show date and month, or assumed date -circa- in the browser box above, followed by the print run, and dimensions of the folded leaflet in millimetres. 

The section summary pages show the following information:

  • 1: Sequential number for easy reference 
  • 2: Description of cover design. Most variations in lettering, or changes in the Royal Arms (usually at the death of a monarch), have been ignored. This list also disregards cover back panels and inside surfaces 
  • 3: Initials of artist, if applicable. See the list here
  •  4: Map issues which use the design. The dates given are those of the first publication of an edition, and the appearance of a cover design is usually coincident, or soon after. Dates annotated with code [17] are those for which there is supporting evidence for the independent introduction of a cover design. The titles given are usually the sheet rather than the cover title, except on Ansell-fold maps. Cover titles altered by means of adhesive labels have been disregarded. Matter in square brackets gives additional or editorial information. 


Reference numbers in square brackets and artists' initials are explained here 

This list is not definitive, and the absence here of a particular type of map inside a particular cover design merely means that it has not been recorded, not that it does not exist. However some whose existence is suspected are included, guarded by question marks. Many designs were used also on publicity leaflets and posters etc., but these are only noted here if they assist in dating the design. Words such as 'long', 'wide' are comparative and imply no fixed measurement. Kew Gardens, 1935 is the only known map advertised in covers not so far recorded.