The Geographical collection of King George III includes the King’s Topographical collection of maps, views and atlases, and the King’s Maritime collection of sea charts.
About the collection
The King’s Topographical collection, the map collection of George III, is one of the world’s most important historical resources. Donated to the nation by George IV in 1828, it comprises approximately 30–40,000 maps, plans and views, both printed and hand-drawn, of all parts of the world, particularly Great Britain and the then British Empire. The material ranges in date from about 1540 to 1824, and is extremely varied in terms of format and size.
The Maritime Collection of George III consists of hand-drawn and printed sea charts and atlases of the 16th to 19th centuries. It was donated by George IV to the Admiralty, and from there to the British Museum in 1844.
- Some of the earliest European printed maps, such as the copperplate maps included in so-called Italian made-to-order atlases produced in the mid-16th century
- The complete range of British county maps dating from 1579 to the early 19th century
- Administrative maps
- Planning maps including maps of proposed railways and canals
- Presentation maps, such as the ‘Duke’s Plan’ of New York', made to celebrate its capture by the English from the Dutch in 1664
- Estate maps and maps of Royal palaces
- Architectural drawings, including a large archive of working drawings by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the architect of Christ Church, Spitalfields in London
- Printed and hand-drawn or painted views, including examples by Wenceslaus Hollar, Samuel Hieronymus Grimm and Paul Sandby
- The results of large-scale surveys, including a manuscript map of part of Newfoundland by James Cook, and William Roy’s military survey of Scotland as well as Roy’s later mapping projects in Southern England and Wales
- A large archive of maps and plans of Hannover and Northern Germany
- Klencke Atlas, one of the largest atlases in the world, presented to Charles II by the Dutch merchant and scholar Johannes Klencke in 1660
What is available online?
- King’s Topographical Collection Album with 18,000 images is available on the British Library’s digital Flickr Commons space
- Articles accompanied by images from the K.Top. collection are available on the Library’s Picturing Places page
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
All of the King’s Topographical collection and the King’s Maritime collection are listed on Explore the British Library, and can be ordered to the Maps Reading Room.
What is available in other organisations?Further topographical material from the collection of George III forms the King’s Military collection, now in the Royal Library at Windsor. Digital copies of this collection are available online via the Royal Collection Trust.
Further information on King George III’s library and collecting can be found at George III Collection: the King's Library
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