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A union listing 

The Ordnance Survey began issuing “catalogues of the maps and plans and other publications” in three series which listed separately the maps and plans of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland. A common list of the “other publications” of a more general application appeared in all three catalogues. The earliest catalogue for each country listed publications to 31 December 1862, and following these, for nearly sixty years, there was first an irregular, then a largely regular pattern of new issues, until, in 1920, publication ceased. There were also separate catalogues of small-scale maps in 1902 and 1903. Other than a single new issue in 1924, there were no further catalogues in Great Britain until the modern sequence began in 1967. Occasional catalogues were published by the newly independent Ordnance Surveys in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

 In parallel with the catalogues themselves, the Ordnance Survey issued regular, usually monthly, at other times quarterly, supplements to the catalogues, for many years with titles beginning Publications issued….. This changed to Supplement to Catalogue….. in 1904, and to Ordnance Survey Publication Report, and later variants, in 1938. The small-scale catalogues of 1902 and 1903 had their own independent sequence of supplements. Whatever the title, these serials have throughout provided the bedrock evidence for dating the publication of any new Ordnance Survey product, ironically including the only known evidence in some cases of new editions of the catalogues themselves. Publication of the reports continued uninterrupted during the years that there were no catalogues, and Ordnance Survey in Southampton only finally ceased publishing them in paper form in 2004. For many years both the Irish surveys issued supplements to their catalogues.

 It was also an Ordnance Survey function to publish supplements to the catalogues of the Geological Survey. What happened in the earliest years has still to be discovered, but Geological Survey information was added to Ordnance Survey supplements from November 1901 until February 1904, after which an independent sequence of supplements was created. Little is known of this until after the first world war, but from that point a regular sequence of quarterly supplements appeared, with some discontinuity caused by the second world war, until it ceased publication in 1990, its role superseded by the British Geological Survey’s own New releases from BGS, which was first published in 1985.

 The Charles Close Society is presenting this union list of known copies of these supplements to the catalogue as one of a series in which it is intended that comprehensive details of all the serial publications of the Ordnance Survey will be permanently available to anyone who requires access to this information. Some of the information presented is still in provisional form, and this will be updated as time, and further sources, permit.

 It will immediately be obvious that there are in many cases no known copies of these supplements, with those published before 1881 being very elusive indeed. While it cannot be claimed that there would have been an issue every single month for all three countries (a letter from the Ordnance Survey to the Bodleian Library survives which confirms that one issue of the Scottish supplement was not published), the chances are that in the majority of cases a page or two would have appeared. No doubt contemporary users of the supplements acted as many would today, by simply throwing away a superseded edition on receipt of an updated one. Many supplements only survive at all because copies were bound into the back of the catalogues themselves.

 The Charles Close Society would be grateful if owners of the catalogues would check for and report any supplements in their copies, or indeed elsewhere, so that this union listing may be made the more complete – at least until the end of the second world war. Since then publication reports naturally become progressively more common, and a union list of recent issues is thus unnecessary.

 If surviving copies of these monthly supplements are rare, copies of the weekly editions appear to be almost non-existent. So far a single weekly Ordnance Survey Publication Report has been recorded, for 8 to 14 April 1933. Yet it would appear that its appearance was regular, at least from that date until the war, the evidence being this notice appearing in the, by then quarterly, report for April to June 1940: Owing to the need for economy it has been necessary to discontinue the issue of Weekly Publication Reports. Until further notice therefore the Quarterly reports only will be issued. 

The Charles Close Society would be grateful for any further information about this most elusive of Ordnance Survey publications.

 Download Supplements listing