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The full list of Nineteenth century European Official Surveys available online is available via this link


The state-sponsored topographical map, covering an entire country to a uniform standard, was pioneered in France by the Cassinis. The Revolutionary Wars caused its spread to what might be termed the front-line states, sometimes as 'fraternal assistance', sometimes in a spirit of recognising that the enemy had something good that ought to be emulated.

 Those same wars created a need for efficient taxation, which in turn often led to the creation of a cadaster. Cadastral and topographic surveys needed different skills and proved difficult to bring together in the same organisation. The tensions between the two functions were handled differently in different countries and often lasted into the twentieth century. 

All these surveys produced maps which surpass in their detail anything that went before. They are of the utmost value to the archaeologist or the historian. Printed copies are often scarce; and some of these series were for reasons of security never printed. Some have been reproduced in facsimile; but what has really made these maps useful has been their on-line dissemination. 

Finding these maps on-line is sometimes difficult, especially for the user who is not a cartographic historian or for countries where there is no convenient cartographic history listing such state surveys. This document attempts to assist.

 The scope was to be multi-sheet official topographic surveys of the 19th century. Scales smaller than 1:200k have generally been excluded. Cadastral plans have been included when they formed the basis for a topographic map or when they are presented in a way which enables them so to be used. A very few 18th c. surveys have been included because their quality and detail was up to 19th c. standards. Town plans have generally been excluded, exceptions being made for the Ordnance Survey town scales (which were usually surveyed as part of the general survey of their areas) and maps of a town and environs when these offer high-quality depiction of reasonably large areas.

 What constitutes an official survey is by no means straightforward. In a British context, Faden's publication of the Ordnance survey of Kent, reduced to the one-inch scale, counts as official, while Bartholomew's Reduced Ordnance Survey does not. However, making this choice requires a knowledge of cartographic history which the list's compiler does not pretend to for most European countries. In practice, the choice has been driven by perceived utility, which in turn depends on what else is available. Utility is also driven by software aspects: a map of marginal status is more likely to have been included when it can be easily inspected than when it is an awkward and troublesome process to call up the relevant image.

 The list is organised by countries, in alphabetical order. In central and eastern Europe, boundaries have changed and states have come and gone. A few cross-references have been inserted but generally the user interested in a particular area is expected to search all the countries that have laid claim to that area and, indeed, all the countries which extended their survey boundaries beyond their own territory to include it. Germany and Italy became unified in the course of the century: constituent states are listed as sub-headings.

 Web sites come and go. The user is invited to notify the webmaster of links that no longer work and also of ones which ought to be added. 

Finally, in working with graticules on different origins, it may be useful to note that 'Ferro' is at about 17°20' W of Greenwich; Paris is 2°21' E of Greenwich.

 Rob Wheeler March 2023