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Manchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#3) – An interesting find

This post explores an interesting piece of ephemera, a map of 'Rome in 1890' published in 'The Graphic' newspaper in 1890.

This blog post is the third in a series focusing on maps of Europe from the #ManGeogSoc Map Cataloguing project. The first blog post featuring antiquarian maps of Europe can be read here. The second blog post delving into the provenance of manuscript maps of the Greek Archipelago can be read here.

This post explores an interesting piece of ephemera, a map of ‘Rome in 1890’ published in The Graphic newspaper in 1890.

This map, ‘Rome in 1890’, is by Henry Brewer, who produced a map titled, ‘A Bird’s Eye View of Victorian Manchester’, one year earlier in 1889. This was also published in The Graphic. The Map of Manchester by Brewer is a favourite in our Map collection, and you can view the digitised version here.


Henry William Brewer was a Victorian illustrator and architectural draughtsman known for his depictions of cities drawn from an elevated viewpoint. He tried to depict a 3-dimensional view of the cities he focused on. Copies of these maps are now rare and often fragile because they were produced on poor quality paper as supplements in widely circulated magazines. This beautifully detailed map was published in 1890, therefore giving a contemporary view of Rome at the time of publication.

JRL20030899 snippet 1

In this section of the map, the easily recognisable Colosseum is located at the bottom right of the map, as well as a depiction of the Roman Forum to the bottom left of this snippet. The detail of this map can be seen through the depictions of buildings and ruins, even individual trees and small footpaths are illustrated.

JRL20030899 snippet 2

In this snippet of the map, the curve of the River Tiber can be seen, with the Tiber Island in the middle. Can you spot a chimney in the bottom of this snippet? These buildings represent the gas works that was built by the Anglo-Italian Gas Society on top of the Circus Maximus remains in 1852. The works were then moved in 1910 to the edge of the city so that the area could be excavated as an archaeological site. As these buildings do not exist today, this map provides an artistic representation of the works in 1890, before demolition.

JRL20030899 snippet 3

The cartouche at the forefront of the map features many aspects reminiscent of the history of Rome. The Capitoline wolf is pictured with Romulus and Remus as babes underneath, suckling, which illustrates one of the founding myths of Rome. Also featured along the bottom of the cartouche is a Galea, a traditional roman helmet, as well as the papal tiara which was worn by popes of the Catholic Church until 1963. To the right stands the abbreviation SPQR, representing ‘the Roman Senate and People’, which is still prominent all across Rome today, stamped into man-hole covers and lamp posts around the city. This post shows a small sample of the information that can be gleaned by studying ephemeral maps such as this one.

Many thanks to the Imaging team for the digitisation of this map.

2 comments on “Manchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#3) – An interesting find

  1. Thanks for directing reader’s eyes to the gasworks in the picture. I am interested in the industrial heritage and the history of gasworks and gasholders, so that was really interesting map to see.

  2. Pingback: Manchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#3) – An interesting find — The John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog – Bibliomusings

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