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JERVIS, Thomas Best.

To her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, and the Allied Armies of France and England. This Military Topographical Map of the Krima Peninsula,

constructed, and founded, on the Most Recent Astronomical Observations, verified, and completed from Authentic Military Surveys of the Staff of his Imperial Majesty's Quarter Master General's Department, by Major General Mukhin in the year 1816; by Express Command of Governor General & Aid de Camp Prince Volkonski 2nd. during his Administration of that Country. Is by her Majesty's Permission inscribed by her very Devoted and Faithful Servant Thomas Best Jervis, F.R.S. Major of the Corps of Engineers E.I. Service. The original map was engraved and printed at the Military Topographical Depôt. Attached to the État-Major or Staff of his Imperial Majesty in the year 1817 ... [text in English and Russian].

Published: London: [For the Compiler,] 1854

Stock code: 90443

Price: £4,500

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This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road (map)

First edition, evidently first state, and uncommon thus. Superbly detailed map of the Crimean Peninsula produced at the outbreak of the war in the region with “the Russian names, title and observations … translated or rendered into English by Major Jervis himself, and various useful and important additions also made to the original Russian map” (map text). Subsequently the map was re-issued in various formats, over various imprints – editions were published in Turin, Paris, Brussels – no doubt for Jervis to recoup his costs; and “repurposed”, for example in 1856 as a geological map, but is here presented in its original form, as a document of military topographical intelligence. Thomas Best Jervis “was fundamentally a scholar” (Wade, Spies in the Empire: Victorian Military Intelligence, p.23), born in Ceylon in 1792, he was educated at Addiscombe, and in 1813 was commissioned as ensign and posted to the Bombay Engineers. Between 1820 and 1836 he conducted the Trigonometrical and Topographical Survey of South Konkan; in 1821 attached to the British force sent to the Persian Gulf; 1839-41 Superintending Engineer, Northern Province, Bombay; retired from service 1841, but in 1843 established a lithographic press for the production of maps in India. “Making maps was his passion … in 1846 he began to outline his reforms and proposals for military cartography, and he wrote to Lord Aberdeen explaining that the War Office needed someone to improve the geographical information available to expeditionary forces. That someone was, of course, Thomas Best Jervis. The war in the Crimea proved Jervis’s point. The commanders had no idea of the territory they were encroaching. The setbacks in the early phase gave Jervis the ideal pretext for an audience with the Secretary of State for War [who] could not be persuaded to form an official corps, but permitted Jervis the task of doing the work himself … He went to work with alacrity and created a map of the Crimea … The dedication and hard work paid off. On 2 February 1855 … Lord Panmure finally made the foundation of an intelligence department official. It was to be called the Topographical and Statistical Department. Jervis was to take command” (p.25) Over time the T & S would become the Directorate of Military Intelligence, later the Defence Intelligence Staff. In this context it is interesting to note that Clausewitz was somewhat dismissive of the abilities of General Mukhin – whose work forms the basis of Jervis’s map – as Quartermaster-General, because he “was appointed to his post just because he was well-known as a skilled specialist in the arts of topography and map sketching” (quoted in Schimmelpenninck van der Oye & Menning, Reforming the Tsar’s Army, p.296).

Large engraved wall-map (1305 2350 mm); original wash colour to the sea, small geological map as inset with hand-colour, dissected into 40 panels and mounted on two sheets – East and West – of linen. Mounted on the outer panels are four sheets of letterpress providing a digest of useful information about the Russian Empire: “A General Account of the Extent of the Russian Empire …”; “Organization of the Military and Naval Forces of Russia …”; “Miscellaneous useful Information connected with present Seat of War, and the Powers and States engaged therein”; and “Remarks on the proper Pronunciation of Foreign, and Asiatic Words in particular”. Housed in the original black morocco-grained skiver slipcase, lettered “Map of the Crimea” on the front panel. Some mild discolouration to the panels corresponding to the upper, outer edges, but otherwise very good indeed , the case with mild chipping at the opening, neatly restored at the bottom edge.

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