The British Library has uploaded another 32,000 images from George III’s Topographical Collection to Flickr. The Library has been engaged in digitizing the King’s Topographical Collection (K.Top), which comprises some 40,000 atlases, views, plans and surveys dating from 1540 to 1824, for the past few years; last year they uploaded the first tranche of nearly 18,000 images to Flickr for free access and download. As of their announcement earlier this month, the Flickr collection (found here, helpfully organized by fonds) “now includes pretty much everything from the Topographical Collection, there is a small handful of images which we have still to release. We’re working on it!”
At his death, King George III had a collection of some 50,000 maps, plans, illustrations and related ephemera. The military maps were kept by his son George IV; earlier this year more than 2,000 of those maps were posted online by the Royal Collection Trust. But the vast majority went to the British Library, where it makes up the King’s Topographical Collection (“K.Top”). The collection is wide-ranging and diverse—George III was a bit grabby when it came to maps—and includes maps made from 1540 to 1824; it also, famously, includes the Klencke Atlas.
For the past few years the Library has been engaged on a project to digitize the 40,000 items of the Collection; last month they announced that the first batch—some 18,000 images—has been released to Flickr—see this Flickr album—where they may be freely accessed and downloaded.
More than 2,000 military maps and related items collected by George III have been posted online by the Royal Collection Trust to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his death. As the Guardian reports, the collection “features material from the 16th to 18th centuries, from highly finished presentation maps of sieges, battles and marcheso rough sketches drawn in the field, depictions of uniforms and fortification plans, providing a vivid contemporary account of important theatres of war in Britain, Europe and America.”
George III was apparently an avid map collector. At his death his collection numbered some 55,000 maps: the maritime and topographic maps were given to the British Library; the military maps were kept by George IV for his own use. “Not all of them were collected by George III in the first instance: like most collectors, he not only purchased individual items but also acquired the collections of others.” [Tony Campbell]
Update, 22 Apr 2020: From February, Smithsonian Magazine’s coverage.
On New Year’s Eve The Arts Newspaper reported on the British Library’s efforts to digitize the 50,000 maps and plans that make up the King George III Topographical Collection. (George III was apparently quite the map collector, one not above choosing not to return maps he borrowed.) They’re about a quarter of the way through so far. The collection’s crown jewel, so to speak, is the ludicrously large (176 × 231 cm) Klencke Atlas.