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Number: 3885
Continent: Africa
Region: South
Place Names: South Africa
Year of Origin: 1899
Title: New Map: Briton or Boer. Compiled from Best Available Sources by Wood & Ortlepp
Language: English
Publish Origin: Cape Town
Height: 55.8
Width: 63.5
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 1,287,480
Color Type: Outline Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Publisher: Argus Co.
John T. Wood
Wood and Ortlepp
Other Contributors:
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Easternmost Longitude:
Notes: Pahor/Johnson source] Ht/Width measured on inner neatline of main map, excluding 4 inset maps on right and left sides; Colour print, mounted upon original linen, rolled (minor tears in margins, light age-toning, overall in a good condition), 62 x 100 cm (24.4 x 39.4 inches). The very rare first edition of the most important of Wood & Ortlepp?s fine wall maps of the Second Anglo-Boer War, depicting the entire core theatre of conflict, embracing all of the Orange State, southern Transvaal, the Cape Colony and Natal borderlands and Basutoland (Lesotho); one of the largest and most impressive maps published in South Africa during its time. This highly attractive and engaging wall map was published in Cape Town in December 1899, towards at the beginning of the Second Anglo-Boer War (October 11, 1899 to May 31, 1902), the decisive showdown between the two Afrikaner republics and Britain. After many surprising twists and turns, Britain ultimately gained complete mastery over South Africa, along with its immense wealth in gold and diamonds. Present here is the very rare first edition of most important work from Wood & Ortlepp?s ground-breaking series of maps of the conflict, as it showcases all of the principle military theatre. Predicated upon the best sources, it is one of the largest and most impressive maps published in South Africa during its era. The map is centred upon one the Afrikaner republics, the Orange Free State, while to the north is the critical southern part of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR, informally Transvaal), with Johannesburg, the world?s greatest mining ?boomtown?, and the Pretoria, the national capital. In the east and southwest are the borderlands of the British Cape Colony, while to southeast is Basutoland (today?s Lesotho, then a British protectorate) and the British Natal colony. The map outlines the British territories in pink and the Afrikaner states in green, while all cities, towns and villages of any note are labelled, as are the names of the various districts. The ?References? in the boxes by the title identify the symbols uses for rivers, roads, hills, telegraph lines, railways and railways under contraction. The map labels all ?drifts? (fords across rivers) and notes the elevations of many places (an important factor in the Highveld). The map includes eight fine cartographic insets on the side panels, including (clockwise from the upper left) Johannesburg, Ladysmith (a key town in the northern Natal, currently besieged by the Afrikaners); Dundee (Natal); an overview map of South Africa with Railways; Mafeking (in the northern Cape Colony, currently besieged by the Afrikaners); Bloemfontein (the capital of the Orange Free State); Kimberly (in the Cape Colony, the world?s diamond capital, currently besieged by the Afrikaners); and Pretoria. The insets give special attention to the locations of fortifications and transportation routes. The publisher of the map, the firm of Wood & Ortlepp, was led by John T. Wood and was formed in 1898, not long before the Second Anglo-Boer War. Taking advantage of intense public interest in the conflict, the firm proceeded to create the present wall map of the main conflict theatre. The map proved very popular, and it became the basis of a series of maps that extended coverage of the war in all directions. The maps were issued in multiple updated editions as new information became valuable. The quality of the production is very high as Wood & Ortlepp contacted the printing to the Argus Company (publisher of the Cape?s leading newspaper, founded in 1857), which employed the most advanced press in southern Africa. Wood obviously impress the British authorities, for Wood & Ortlepp was appointed by the British Field Intelligence Department as the map ?Compiler?s to Her Majesty?s Forces in South Africa?. This gave Wood privileged information from the latest official trigonometrical surveys and field reconnaissance, and he was commissioned to create the Imperial Map of South Africa (Cape Town, 1900), a colossal 31-sheet map, the publication of which was delayed for some months due to its military sensitivity. The present map is the very rare first edition of the first and most important of Wood and Ortlepp?s wall maps of the war. It features the imprint date of ?December 6th 1899?, less than two months into the conflict, when the Afrikaners had the upper hand, overwhelming Britain?s supposedly ?insurmountable? advantages. The highly motivated and clever Afrikaners moved in quickly to surround several key British towns, resulting in the sieges of Mafeking, was a 217-day long melodrama (October 13, 1899 to May 17, 1900); Kimberly, the world?s diamond capital (October 14, 1899 ? February 14, 1900); and Ladysmith (November 2, 1899 to February 28, 1900). The imprint date on the present map came only a few days before what the British called ?Black Week?, when the Afrikaners dealt a trifecta of crushing defeats upon the British army, being the battles of Stromberg (Eastern Cape, December 10, 1899); Magersfontein (just south of Kimberly, December 11, 1899); and Colenso (Natal, December 15, 1899). Thus, the map righty poses the question ?Briton or Boer??, as in December 1899 the ultimate fate of South Africa was far from clear. The conflict gripped the entire world, as the constant presence of war correspondents, the telegraph and newspapers, ensured that it was one of the first major wars to be covered globally in almost real-time. The shock of a group of plucky ?farmers? stonewalling the British Empire provided an irresistible story. Subsequent editions of the present map were issued in quick succession. The first edition is noticeably distinct from the subsequent issues. The First edition has the something of the feel of a proof state, as while still an accurate and attractive work, it seems to have been made in some haste in order to rush the map out the market, just as news from the battlefront reached Cape Town. The Second edition (dated February 1900) and the Third edition (March 1900) and Fourth edition (later in the spring of 1900) are extensively reworked, with much additional topographical detail (more mountains and rivers) and more place names, while the side panels have been altered. The second to fourth editions indicate that the map had an exposure far beyond South Africa (indeed, the modern media made the war into a global sensation), as a note on the bottom reads: ?Copyright for U.S. America ceded to Major L.I. Seymour for benefit of Railway Pioneer Regiment Sustentation Fund?. For the sake of comparison, please see an image of the third state of the map, courtesy of the University of Cape Town Library: A Note on Rarity The present first edition of the map is very rare, it was clearly published in only a very small print run before it was superseded by the second edition two months later. We can trace only 2 institutional examples, held by the British Library and the National Library of South Africa; we are not aware of any sales records. Historical Context: The World?s Greatest Gold Rush Anglo-Afrikaner Conflict The present map appeared during a time of transformative change in South Africa, in which the discovery of vast mineral resources caused the region to go from a colonial backwater to a focal point of international geopolitics, resulting in great conflicts for control of the country. Britain conquered the Cape Colony from the Netherlands in 1806. For the next several decades Britain mainly valued the colony as a strategically located way-station for voyages to India. The Cape was invariably a financial burden, as it produced few exportable commodities and its location ensured that it was almost continuously embroiled in expensive frontier wars with formidable native nations, such as the Xhosa. The British Crown was loathe to invest any significant amounts of money into infrastructure and economic development schemes, which ensured that the colony?s lack of productivity was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The foundation of independent Afrikaner societies in the 1830s in the Highveld (the focus of the present map), to the northeast of the Cape Colony, seemed not to bother the British, as they had no interest in those far away landlocked territories, and were glad to be rid of potentially troublesome subjects. Britain?s decision to annex the former Afrikaner settlement of Natal in 1843, motivated by its coastal location and the fine natural harbour at Durban, was nevertheless considered by many Whitehall officials to only be an added burden. London recognized the independence of the Afrikaner nations, the South African Republic (ZAR, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek), being the Transvaal, at the Sand River Convention (1852) and the Orange Free State at the Bloemfontein Convention (1854). While both the British and Afrikaners were weary of each other, they were at least pleased to have another European power in the neighbourhood which could held to keep the Xhosa and Zulu nations in check. Then an unexpected event changed everything ? almost overnight. In 1868 news broke that diamonds, of the finest quality and quantity, were discovered in the Vaal River region, where the ill-defined boundaries of the ZAR, Orange Free State and Cape Colony met. Suddenly, it seemed as though everyone in London became vitally interested in the region, desperately looking for any books or maps that could inform them about an area that had hitherto been a complete enigma. Thousands of Anglo settlers flooded to the Vaal River region, spiking tensions with the Afrikaner authorities on their sides of the lines. The British and the Afrikaner republics quarrelled over their shared boundaries resulting in innumerable disputes. In 1877, Britain unilaterally announced the annexation of the ZAR, although they had no power to enforce this on the ground, while the move was dismissed by the ZAR authorities (albeit with some trepidation). The British crushed the Zulu nation during the Anglo-Zulu War (1879), and while this was a cause of some relief to the Afrikaners, who were long threatened by the Zulus, it also emboldened the British to play their hand against the Afrikaners. Tensions overboiled, and the South African Republic formally asserted its independence from Britain on December 16, 1880, sparking the First Anglo-Boer War. President Brand of the Orange Free State, although sympathetic to his fellow Afrikaners, ensured that his country officially remained neutral, knowing that his geographically vulnerable nation would be overrun. However, the Transvaal Afrikaners mounted a ferocious guerrilla war that caught the British on the back-foot. After barely three months of being outwitted by much smaller irregular forces, the British sued for peace and the conflict ended on March 23, 1881. The resulting Treaty of Pretoria (August 3, 1881) was signed largely on the ZAR?s terms, with Britain agreeing to respect its independence. For a few years, it seemed as if the independence of the Afrikaner republics would be secure and that Britain might turn its attention to other regions of the world. However, another shocking surprise altered the course of South African history. In 1886, the largest gold deposits in the world were discovered along the Witwatersrand in the South African Republic. While the presence of gold in the Transvaal was known for some decades, and significant strikes had been made as early as 1880, it was only in that year + that incontrovertible proof was found that it was the ?real deal?. Thousands of prospectors and settlers flocked to region, deemed a ?Uitlanders? by the Afrikaners, founding the city of Johannesburg later that same year. Opportunists rushed in from as far away as Canada, California and Australia. The ZAR government, led by President Paul Kruger, was deeply alarmed, for just as the influx of foreign prospectors had taken California from Mexico, so seemed the fate of the ZAR for the Afrikaners. The hysteria for gold amongst both the prospectors and the British government was exponentially greater than the previous lust for diamonds, and the situation was pitched into a whirlwind. The present map, based on fresh reports from mainly British individuals and companies involved in the mining industry, shows that the formerly Afrikaner-dominated space had in only a short time been transformed into a land with a heavily anglophone presence, as indicated by the names attached to the mining claims. Whitehall dearly wanted control of the Transvaal, yet all efforts to make a deal with President Kruger, whereby Britain would respect the ZAR?s nominal independence in return for a big cut of the gold, failed. Then, around the New Year of 1895-6, the English mining magnate Cecil Rhodes devised the ?Jameson Raid?, an attempt by armed British troublemakers to invade the ZAR and stir up an Uitlander rebellion against the Afrikaner government. This operation failed spectacularly, yet Britain remained undeterred, seeking to find any excuse to start a war with the Afrikaner republics. Anglo-Afrikaner tensions marched towards a final showdown, the Second Anglo-Boer War (October 11, 1899 ? May 31, 1902), which proved to be far more horrendous than either side could possibly have imagined. For the first three months of the conflict, the Afrikaners overran the region, tying down British positions, in so-called ?Sitzkrieg? warfare. This shocked the British into drastic action, and after appointing the aggressive Lord Kitchener as their new commander-in-chief, they flooded South Africa with 500,000 troops from all across the empire. Against this, the Afrikaners forces could muster barely 90,000 men. The British reversed all of the Afrikaners? gains and invaded the ZAR and the Orange Free State. While the Afrikaners did an admirable job prosecuting a fierce guerrilla insurgency, the British responded with a ?scorched earth? campaign, devastating the Transvaal countryside at tremendous cost to civilian life. The price to Britain was also awesome, they lost many men, and it is estimated that the war cost the equivalent of over ?200 billion in today?s money! The Afrikaners were forced to surrender and signed the Treaty of Vereeninging (May 31, 1902), by which the Afrikaner republics were dissolved and annexed by Britain, in return for the Afrikaners retaining their property rights and being safe from reprisals. This conflict generated a vast corpus of high-quality mapping that formed an estimable cartographic legacy for the Union of South Africa upon its creation in 1910. The Witwatersrand-Transvaal Gold Rush was the catalyst for what was known as the ?Mineral Revolution?, whereby South Africa was radically transformed into an industrialized, heavily urban society, producing wealth unrivalled in Africa. As we now all know, this came at a heavy price, as the proceeds were distributed unequally, exacerbated existing racial cleavages and giving rise to the ignoble Apartheid regime. It is only recently that some of the wealth has been enjoyed by a wider range of society. Interestingly, unlike most gold rushes, the Witwatersrand-Transvaal gold rush never died. Since the 1880s South Africa had consistently been the world?s largest gold producer, with major new finds occurring even during the last generation. South Africa still holds over 50% of the World?s gold resources, almost all of its encompassed within the lands depicted on the present map. References: British Library: Maps 67730.(4.), OCLC: 556524894; National Library of South Africa: KF AZ ABW 1900, OCLC: 1017210727.
Last updated: May 29, 2021