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Number: 3891
Continent: Africa
Region: West
Place Names: Nigeria
Year of Origin: 1890
Title: Map of the Countries Bordering on the Lower Niger and Binueh Rivers
Language: English
Publish Origin: London
Height: 37.5
Width: 50.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 2,787,840
Color Type: Outline Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Cartographer: Edward Stanford
Publisher: Topographic Depot of the War Office
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: 13.0
Southernmost Latitude: 3.9
Westernmost Longitude: 2.0
Easternmost Longitude: 14.3
Measurement Notes: on map
Notes: [Pahor/Johnson source] Lithograph in 2 colours (black and blue) with original blue wash outline hand colour, dissected into 15 sections and mounted upon original linen, housed in original red cloth covers (Very Good, overall bright, just some foxing in upper left corner and by right margin), 47 x 56 cm (18.5 x 22 inches). A very rare and highly important map of what is today Nigeria, made by the Intelligence Division of the War Office in the wake of Britain being given international title to the region in the wake of the Berlin Conference, representing a peerless insight into the state of European geographic knowledge at a critical historical juncture, used as an official ?treaty map? to demarcate the provisional boundaries between British territories and French Dahomey and German Kamerun, as well as a strategic aid employed by British military forces in their ongoing quest to dominate the local tribal nations whose territories are here presented in impressive detail ? from the library of the English noble estate of Spetchley Park. This is one of the most historically important maps of what is today Nigeria, coming from the period of dramatic change in the wake of Britain being granted auspices over the region at the Berlin Conference (1884-5). Created by the Intelligence Division of the War Office for official use, the map served as a vital diplomatic document for settling colonial boundaries with French Dahomey and German Kamerun, as well as a strategic aid to guide British military forces in their ongoing campaigns to subdue the local tribal nations. The map would also have been used to help allocate crown and commercial resources in what was a vibrant trading region. The map embraces almost the entire territory of today?s Nigeria (save its northern extremities) and extends along the Atlantic coast from Whydah (Dahomey), in the west, to the mouth of the Cameroon River (in the east), and inland as far north as a line running from Sokoto to Kano and then to Lake Chad. The map notably features the great port of Lagos, then the centre of the British Lagos Colony; the territories around Niger Delta, being the Oil River Protectorate, later the Niger Coast Protectorate; as well as the lands under the auspices of the chartered Royal Niger Company (with their headquarters at Lokoja, at the confluence of the Niger and Benue River), while the northern regions are dominated by the Sokoto Caliphate. It is worth emphasizing that the map provides a great wealth of information on the territories of various tribal nations and subgroups, labeling dozens of entities in a manner far more comprehensive and accurate than seen on even much later works. The copious labeling of towns and villages is also remarkable and is all the more impressive by the fact that British authority scarcely extended inland from the coasts and major rivers. Of particular note are the territories of Egba, ?Jebu? (Ijebu), ?Ijo? (Ijaw), and the people of ?Benin?, the fabled capital of the Kingdom of Edo Kingdom, all proud and culturally sophisticated societies who valiantly tried to maintain their autonomy in the face of imperialistic expansion. The coastlines are very accurately delineated, after trigonometrical surveys by the Royal Navy. The lands immediately along the major rivers, especially the Niger and the Benue, are also well mapped, however, the overall scene reveals that much of the regions was still imprecisely known, with conjectural dashed lines used to depict the paths of inland waterways that had not been properly charted. Importantly, the map attempts to be as empiricist as possible, solidly portraying only information that is known to be accurate, while admitting what is only vaguely known, while leaving enigmatic territory as blank. Consequently, the map provides a peerless insight into the state of European geographic knowledge of Nigeria at what was a critical historical juncture. The map also shows the region?s only fast communications link to Britain, the ?Submarine Cable, Africa Direct Company?, which jumps from Accra to Lagos, and then on to Twong and Bonny, on the Niger Delta. Importantly, the map features breaking news on the provisional boundaries between the British territories in what would become Nigeria and French Dahomey (Benin) and German Kamerun. While the Berlin Conference granted various European powers trusteeship over parts of Africa, the precise frontiers were not defined, in good part because most regions of Africa were imprecisely mapped, or not even charted at all. This opened the door to innumerable boundary disputes between the various parties, which were often resolved amicably, although sometimes leading to heightened tensions. Specifically, the map labels the provisional Lagos Colony-Dahomey frontier that, labelled ?Anglo-French boundary by agreement of 10.8.89?, runs in a straight line up from the coast, from a point just to the east of Porto Novo, into the interior until the 9th Parallel North, beyond which the territory was essentially unknown to Europeans. This boundary was yet to be surveyed, which would occur in due course. To the east, the Niger Coast Protectorate-Kamerun frontier is only vaguely defined by a paragraph of text added in the lower right corner below the title, which reads: ?Note. The provisional line of demarcation between the Niger Protectorate and Kameruns as agreed on by England and Germany on 1.7.90 runs from the head of the Rio del Rey Creek direct to the point on the Cross River marked Rapids in the British Admiralty Chart No. 1357 and placed in that Chart at about 9?.8? E. Long: but shewn in the Map in about 8?.50? E. Long: The exact course of this boundary cannot be laid down until it is definitively fixed by a Commission.? The present map was issued in two editions. The first edition was published by the press of the War Office in May 1889, while the second edition (exemplified by the present map) was published by Edward Stanford Ltd. on behalf of the War Office, employing the same printing matrix. While we have not been able to compare the editions, the second edition likely features some modest geographical updates, while, significantly, adding the information on the treaty boundaries between the British territories and Dahomey and Kamerun. The present example of the map comes with an august provenance, being from the library of the noble estate of the Spletchley Park, Worcestershire, owned by the Berkeley family, which has an over 900-year-long history of service the English, and later British, crown. A Note on Rarity The present map, in either of its editions, is very rare. It was issued in only a small print run for official administrative use. We can trace 7 institutional examples in total; with 3 examples of the 1889 first edition, held by the British Library, National Archives U.K. and Biblioth?ue nationale de France; and 3 examples of the present 1890 second edition, held by the British Library, Bodleian Library (Oxford Library) and the National Archives U.K. (2 examples). Moreover, we cannot trace any sales records for the map. Historical Context: The British Consolidation of Power in Nigeria The present map appeared during the dramatic period that followed the ?Scramble for Africa?. While the various European powers have been ?awarded? parts of the continent by their fellow powers, the reality on the ground was that European authority barely extended beyond the coasts and major rivers, with most areas still under the practical control of the indigenous tribal nations; indeed, most places were still totally enigmatic to Europeans. This was certainly true in the case of the region that would become Nigeria. Southern Nigeria was home to highly sophisticated, and often military potent, kingdoms of a cultural richness that had long impressed European visitors. It was a lush and traditionally wealthy land, rich in commodities with stellar access to maritime and land trading routes. However, it also was also one of the regions of Africa that was most affected by the slave trade, which let to extensive, and often severely damaging, European interference in the region from an early date. Both the trade and in slaves and commodities proved immensely lucrative for the Europeans until the Napoleonic Wars In the early in mid-19th century the Royal Navy formed an intense presence along the coasts of Lagos and the Niger Delta in an effort to snuff out the global slave trade (which Parliament had illegalized in 1807). In a related development, from the 1840s, Christian missionaries came to have an extensive presence throughout that region, which proved consequential as they succeeded in converting many of its people. In 1851, Britain made the thriving port of Lagos into a Protectorate, while British commercial concerns founded trading posts in the Niger Delta area. In 1861, Britain annexed Lagos, forming the Colony of Lagos, while British traders dramatically expanded the presence throughout the region, which was rich in palm oil, precious hardwoods and other cash commodities, while successfully excluding French and German competitors. In the 1870s, the Manx mega-trader George Taubman Goldie, considered by some to be the ?Father of Nigeria?, bought up and consolidated many of the British trading companies in the region to form a dominant concern, which went through several numerous names, but is best known today as the Royal Niger Company. The British crown administration in Lagos and Goldie?s trading empire solidified Britain?s claim to all of what would become Southern Nigeria at the Berlin Conference (1884-5), although the boundaries of this vast realm remained ambiguous. Importantly, most of Northern Nigeria was still controlled by the Sokoto Caliphate, a powerful Islamic state, which operated outside of British authority. Indeed, the main cultural-geographic division in Nigeria, that very much still persists, was that the lush south was Christian and animist, and oriented towards maritime trade, while the north was Muslim, relatively arid and oriented towards the Sahel. Britain continued to expand its presence in Southern Nigeria, developing Lagos into a modern city, while the Royal Niger Company was given a charter to rule much of the rest of the country; from 1882 to 1893, the company?s presence increased from operating 19 trading posts to 39. The British had to move fast in to order to prevent French and German encroachment upon their territorial claims, while seeking to either placate or coerce the local indigenous nations into cooperating with their regime. This is where the present map comes into play. Both the British crown and the Royal Niger Company desperately needed a strategic planning map of what would become Nigeria to in order to decide where to deploy forces and resources, while officials in London simply needed to know where key places were located. Moreover, such a map would be vitally useful in demarcating both international and internal boundaries. Since 1881, the Intelligence Division of the War Office took the initiative in making many of the groundbreaking maps of Africa, as it had unrivalled access to the manuscript maps of military officers, commercial traders and explorers, as well as operating a special drafting room for editing the information and preparing finished maps for publication, usually for limited distribution to official agencies. In this way, the Intelligence Division was able to employ the best possible sources to create the present work, the period?s most accurate and comprehensive map of Nigeria. The present map came in handy in short order, for a variety of purposes. First, it was vitally useful in defining the new provisional treaty boundaries between British territories and both Dahomey and Kamerun. It was also a critical strategic aid that informed British forces during a series of military expeditions against recalcitrant local indigenous nations. Specifically, the British deployed military expeditions to conquer, or to pacify, the Ijebu Kingdom (1892); much of Yorubaland (1893); the Edo Kingdom, by sacking Benin City (1897); and the Igbos of the Aro Confederacy. The British also took control over Northern Nigeria upon vanquishing the Sokoto Caliphate (1900-3). In 1900, in anticipation of their total domination of Nigeria, the British formed two new political entities, the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Northern Nigerian Protectorate. These colonies were united in 1914 to form modern Nigeria. The British would continue to rule Nigeria until the country achieved its independence in 1960. References: [re: present 1890 ed.] British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 64620.(12.); Bodleian Library (Oxford Library): 723.11 t.1 (2); National Archives U.K.: CO 700/NIGERIA7 and FO 925/411; OCLC: 317354512 and 556575106; Scottish Geographical Magazine, no. XI (November 1890), p. 585.
Last updated: May 28, 2021