An Intriguing Map Maker John Tallis

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Maps, map makers and Cartographers

John Tallis Map Maker and Cartographer

John Tallis is considered to be one of the most renowned cartographers and publisher of the C19th .

His maps are considered to be the last of the lavishly decorated and ornamental maps, works of art as much of geography.

    • He was born in Stourbridge in Worcestershire in about 1818 and it is possible he stayed working in the Midlands working as a publisher in Birmingham, until he moved to London in the early 1840’s.
    • John then set up the first of his publishing businesses, in Cripplegate, with Frederick Tallis, who was quite possibly his brother. This business lasted from 1842 to 1849 when it was dissolved. By 1846 the business had moved to Smithfield.
    • From 1851 – 54, John set up another business, operating as John Tallis and Company and it was during this period that he produced the Illustrated World Atlas, produced for the 1851 Great Exhibition.
  •  1850 Tallis Map

The intriguing thing is, that at some point, John Tallis made the acquaintance of an engraver called John Rapkin who was an inspiration to Tallis. His stunning illustrations enabled the maps they produced to be beautiful illumanitive works of art.

John Rapkin’s work inspired John Tallis and they used travelogues extensively to guide Joh  Rapkin as he produced vignettes and ornamental engravings to embelish the Tallis maps.

The maps were surprisingly uncoloured, although when sold colourists were frequently employed to add tints to them.

In 1838, Tallis also produced a series of ‘street views’, of central London Streets, showing detailed views of the fronts and fascades of buildings in central London. These street views have recently been used in conjunction with old maps to produce a sort of historic Google street view of Victorian London.

A remarkable digitization project of the John Tallis Street Views has been undertaken combining them with 30 historical maps

Tufts Library Tallis Street Views 

: Digital edition of Tallis’s London Street Views, No. 13: Strand, Division V by Tallis, John, & Company, created from the 1838-1840 edition. Permanent URL: From the Edwin C. Bolles papers (MS004), Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University, Medford, MA.



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