Geographia Ltd

A lot of the old maps in my collection were published by Geographia Ltd, of 167 Fleet Street, London, EC4. The company is no longer trading, so its web profile is almost non-existant. There is a Geographia Ltd of Hackensack, NJ, specialising in maps of mostly New Jersey and New York, but it seems to be unrelated to Geographia of London.

Further searches reveal that the company was founded by a Hungarian immigrant, Alexander Gross, in 1911 and eventually became part of Collins Bartholomew. For some reason his Wikipedia page redirects to “2002 Überlingen mid-air collision”, but his daughter’s page is slightly more useful.

More information can be found on this page, just over halfway down, including this interesting snippet:

Some of their maps use a code where the letters in CUMBERLAND correspond to the numerals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 in the format MM.YY e.g. E.MC = 5.31 = May 1931. This is usually found in the bottom left hand corner of the first map in an atlas.

56 Responses to Geographia Ltd

  1. kallum goddard says:

    I have 2 geographia maps that i bought in an old book shop in Howarth west yorkshire. I was wondering if you could tell me there ages. Map 1 is coded B.ER and map 2 is L.EU. Thank you

  2. Tom Stauntonb says:

    I worked as a Cartographic Draughtsman ay Geographia in St Albans and then Park Street, near Radlett circa 1970. The Chief Cartographer was Mike Middleditch and other cartographers included Dave Seagrove and Colin Cook

    • Lynn robins says:

      Hi just see your comment that you worked at Geographia St Albans , some of the names you mentioned sound familiar, im Lynn and i “was” the young girl who worked on the computer in the office, dont know if you were there or remember me? It wouldve been 1978/80

  3. I have just purchased 2 ‘on cloth’ dissected maps, No4 Northern Counties and No 18 Hampshire and West Sussex, would you be able to date them. No 18 is priced at 4/- [white price label stuck over the old price], and N04 is priced at 5/-, Any suggestions as their age. They are for my family research.

    Your help would be most welcome

    regards

    Andrew Longley

    • All I know is the numbering scheme in the bottom left corner. If that isn’t visible, you’ll have to try and guess a date by looking at landmarks on the maps.

      Sorry I can’t be more help.

    • simon grace says:

      I have a box set of 4 maps, no. 8,9,12 and 13. On the box its says, “They are absolutely up-to-date, the whole series being completed in 1914”. If you don’t already know their date, I hope this helps, regards Simon Grace

  4. Ronnie Blaylock says:

    I have found a old large scale road map on cloth of “30 miles around London” produced & published by GEOGRAPHIA Ltd 55 FLEET STREET , LONDON , E,C.4 on front blue cover it gives 2 prices, on cloth Price 3/6 Net, and below this it gives another ” On Cloth, Dissected 5/- Net have you any idea of the age of the map,

    Regards Ron Blaylock

  5. Ian Byrne says:

    Some of the history of Geographia is given in Phyllis Pearsall’s book “From Bedsitter to Household Name: the history of A-Z maps”. Very briefly, Geographia was founded by Alexander Gross, but in the 1920s he lost the company to its creditors, so emigrated to the USA to set up the like named company there. In the 1930s he persuaded his niece, Ms Pearsall, to establish another company that became A-Z maps – and she was more successful than her uncle and partly to prevent it falling into the hands of rival cartographers, converted into what was effectively a worker’s co-op. Meanwhile, Geographia also prospered in the UK and, as you correctly say, eventually became part of Collins Bartholomew (I think in the 1990s).

    I collect petrol company maps (and run the petrolmaps website) and have 97 Geographia maps in my collection, from companies as diverse as Amoco, Burmah, Chevron, Fina, MS, Murco, Regent, Texaco, Total and Zip, as well as the Kenning Garage group. Not all are dated using the Cumberland code, but the majority are.

  6. I don’t know whether anyone can shed any light on this but several years ago I bought some original artwork by Harold Tamblyn Watts from a house clearance . I have a couple of illustrations he did for Geographia Ltd. One is for their Clearway Mileage Map of England and Wales. It is a painting in shades of green of a country road with a red and white shield in the centre of the English rose and the Welsh leek. It bears the price 3/-. I have been trying to find out if the artwork was actually used. The date is probably about 1950.

  7. Steve says:

    I have just been looking more closely at an old set of maps which I believe used to belong to my grandfather. They include the address Geographia 55 Fleet street. My grandfather was a chauffeur from the 1950s to 1970s. The maps are in a slim case (4″ x 10″) and cover England and half of Scotland in 4 dissected maps. The code is B.MD so from your helpful advice this dates them to February 1930.
    I would be interested to know if these are collectable?
    Thanks, Steve Farmer

  8. PJM says:

    I have a Geographia wall map my father commissioned for his Belfast office in 1960. the address is give as 114 Fleet Street at that time.

  9. tavastlandbrewing says:

    I just bought The Rambler’s Guide Dorking from Ebay, no1 and the cost originally was 1/- net.
    “Geographia” Ltd, 55 Fleet Street.

    I wonder which year?

  10. Ray Young says:

    I have just bought an old Geographers road map of the UK. It is an Austin road atlas and touring guide priced at 12/6d. It shows a few new motorways so think it was printed in early 60’s? Is that right? What I really want , is a UK Railway map of 1950’s or a road map incorporating them. Any ideas? Many thanks Ray Young

    • dean robinson says:

      I have 5 Phillips maps dating from the 60s one of them is rail roads of England they are a series all different

  11. yvette-rankmore@live.co.uk says:

    I have a map of cardiff using the CUMBERLAND method of dating it shows as R.BN this is June 1949 is this map worth anything?

  12. Alan Helsdon says:

    Thanks for the info about dating Geographia maps.I have the ‘New Map of England & Wales,showing counties in colours’ which is perfect for as a base map in a forthcoming book, and despaired of being able to give full details. I now know it is July 1942.
    Brilliant! Well done & thank you.
    Alan Helsdon, Norwich

  13. Interesting article in the Guardian about Comedian Isy Suttie, who is appearing in a musical about Phyllis Pearsall:
    http://gu.com/p/3mfbz

  14. Doug says:

    Great help, thanks. Dated my map of Preston to Oct 56. Old town hall on the front, which burnt down in ’47 after a policeman’s ball. Wasn’t fully demolished till ’62.

  15. Iain C Mckenzie Mckenzie says:

    I have a “GEOGRAPHIA” Regional Plan of Greater LIVERPOOL AND THE MERSEYSIDE (priced at 3/6). I was wondering if you might be able to tell me when it might have been printed. Also it is addressed as being from 114 FLEET STREET, LONDON, E.C.4 and not 167 as you state above. Is the address on my plan a miss print?

    • See PJM’s comment above – it looks like Geographia did trade from 114 Fleet St for a while. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any more information. Everything I know is on this site already.

  16. e mail says:

    I have a map on cloth of west central lancashire priced at 2/6 published by geographia

    167,fleet st,london.E.C.4.any info most welcome thanks

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  18. David says:

    Hi, I have a small blue Road Atlas & Route Guide No4, Northern Counties. It’s priced at 6d and is published by Geographia ltd. Do you have any idea of its age? I have checked the bottom left hand corners of the maps for numbers but there aren’t any. Can you help? Cheers

  19. Tom says:

    Hi Lynn, that’s amazing! I worked there with a ll three you mentioned plus Steve? A young guy who wore a leather hat to work. I was in St Albans and then over to Park Street but it would have been early 70s maybe 72/3 I reckon. But if you were in St Albans it must have been around the same time?nwhat do you think?

  20. edina says:

    I have a geographia large scale road map of 30 miles round London. ..price new was 2/6 net ..produced by “Geographia” Ltd. . Fleet Street London.

  21. Kevin says:

    I have a Geographia plastic coil binding semi-hard cover “Great Britain touring atlas and guide” which I found in my late parent’s belongings. It contains an enormous amount of information. It shows the address for Geographia Ltd as 63 Fleet Street. Does anyone have any idea when it might have been published?

  22. Ellen Mc Hugh says:

    Hi
    I found a map while looking though some books belonging to my partners grandmother.
    It says “Up To date Road Map” it is a map of Ireland . The code on the bottom left is S.MA .
    Any help with any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Ian Byrne says:

      The MA code would be 1938, though S (which should represent the month) is not part of the normal coding system based on the letters in the word CUMBERLAND.

      • Ellen Mc Hugh says:

        Hi Ian
        Thank you for that information.
        Would you know if there is a different code used on Irish maps, or was CUMBERLAND used on all geographia maps?
        Thanking you in advance.
        Ellen

  23. Just wanted to say thanks – am selling one of these on ebay in my store and thanks to you I figured out it is from Dec 1954 – wish we had more ppl like you on the net 🙂
    Samantha @ Rivey’s Space.

  24. Ian Byrne says:

    @Ellen – As far as I am aware they used the same code system on all maps that had a code. (Not all do.) But I’m still a little unsure why there’s an S in your Irish map’s code. I’m just wondering if there’s a 10 letter county in Ireland t5hat contains S, M and A. The closest I can think of is Westmeath, but that’s only got 9 letters and two of those repeat…10 lettered words with no repeats are very rare!

  25. Dawn Burke says:

    I have a Geographia map of the United States, it is a hard cover fold out that unfolds into a large map.

  26. JOE KELLY says:

    Hi-
    can anybody tell me where i can get the Geographia county maps of Ireland please?These were simple,line drawing maps with a single colour highlighting the county.JOE KELLY

  27. Mike says:

    Hi I have the New Road Map of Wales price 3d and the code M MU (March 1932) is in the bottom right hand corner

  28. Caroline says:

    I have just found a map of Swansea priced 1’6 can anyone tell me how to date this map so I can value it

  29. Ian Byrne says:

    Hi Caroline
    It can only be dated if there’s a three or four character code, based on the CUMBERLAND code described above. But if it’s 1/6d, I’d guess 1960s – I was looking at a similarly priced map of Bournemouth last weekend that was dated in the mid 1960s.

  30. Jon Austerfield says:

    i have a geographia ltd map of the world, measures 46×89″ approx, cant find any letters in the corners, only that its geographia lt 167 fleet street, how can i value this?

    thanks

  31. peter dobson says:

    I have several “Geographia” road maps ,one is a very large Hardbacked fold out canvas ,Approx 107cm X 80cm of England,Scotland,wales and Ireland , Ireland is still represented as a whole so i think it is pre 1922 ,all around the borders are Great Britain’s economy IE, wool ,iron coal, armed forces , total expenditure, shipping,gold,population etc , the roads and rail are hand coloured, trying to work out the date of it .nothing on the bottom right hand corner to say what year it is.

  32. James Harvey says:

    Thank you for this information. I’ve now been able to date the map my dad bought as a child as being from Jan 1956. Interestingly the cover sells this as 30 Miles round Derby yet the map itself is centred on the neighbouring Nottingham and is titled as 30 miles round Nottingham! Quite amusing given the rivalry between our 2 cities 🙂

  33. Nick Hing says:

    My late father passed an odd map case on to me several years ago. Apparently he had bought it in a junk shop somewhere in West Sussex. It’s a well made wooden box with plexiglass viewing window to back and front wherein are displayed maps which can be rolled back or forwards so that the display in the window changes. From the look of the maps, I think they have to be from the Thirties. On the base of the box are four D-shaped handles which are used to wind the map display North/South or East/West. Because of its antiquity and the fragility of the map in one of the display windows, I haven’t tried to turn the handles, but I seem to remember that my father demonstrated that strips of maps were joined together, so that as one turned and came to the Eastern edge of the map, for example, the Western part of the next map strip would be pulled into view.
    On the sides of the case are two diagrams showing the key to the map strips, North/South on one side and East/West on the other. In very tiny lettering below the key, it reads “Copyright Geographia Ltd 55 Fleet Street, London EC4”. But there is not other indication on the case who the manufacturer was, and I am not sure whether Geographia would have been the publisher of the map, rather than the maker of the rolling map system.
    Each face of the case is 220 mm x 270 mm.
    My father was certain that the case was made for airmen in the Thirties (probably in open cockpit planes) so that they could navigate, but given the fact that the map is based on roads and the large scale, this seems unlikely. I wondered if it was made for motorcyclists use – or even for any motorist in an open and exposed car.
    If anyone has any idea of the provenance or purpose of the case, I’d be most interested. I have photos available if anyone is interested.

  34. That sounds excellent – I’d love to see it. There are similar items in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum – strip maps that attach to the pilot’s leg and can be wound forward and backwards. Maybe the roads are so prominent because they are easy to spot from the air.
    https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/america-by-air/online/abaImage.cfm?webID=111.p3a

  35. Nick Hing says:

    Thanks for the link, but my map case is totally different.
    Please have a look at these photos





    I really do not think that it would have been strapped to a leg because the user would have had to unstrap it and then turn it over to move the map east/west instead of north/south and there are no strap attachments or markings.
    The East Anglia pic shows the damage to the right hand side of the map. That’s the reason I have not dared wind it forward or backwards to see if there is any attribution of the map at the end of the strip. Each face of the map case is secure by small brass wood screws, so I would be confident to pass it over to an expert for careful dismantling.

  36. Paula van Zomeren says:

    I have a Primary Routes Map section 3 of Wales and Midlands of Geographia Ltd, 63 Fleet Street London EC4, ISBN 0092040306. Can you tell me what age it is? Thank you.

    • Ian Byrne says:

      Hi Paula
      It’s hard on limited information, but as it has a 10 digit ISBN number, it must be 1974 or later. I have a mental picture of a map that might be what you have there, and think it’s most likely to be mid to late 1970s. Primary Routes were created in 1964 with the Worboys report on UK road signage, but you map is clearly younger than that.

  37. Emma Cummings says:

    I have a map of swansea geographia street plan address is 11th leet street London by ph thorpe can any one help me with it how old is it.

  38. Emma Cummings says:

    Have map geographia cost 2′- mum says old cinema in Townhill is there possible 19th can’t find it anywhere on Internet address is 114 fleet street London by ph thorpe.

  39. Dan says:

    I have London street guide with 4 maps
    Geographia ltd 55 Fleet Street
    6d net
    Little red book very very old but no date on it
    Can’t find it online

  40. Carole Smith says:

    I have a map clear road map of south east England

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