Collection of 38 printed and manuscript maps of Shanghai and its environs

By FABER, S.E.; DERYN, C.T.; PEARSON, C.D.; and others, 1900 

The S.E. Faber archive of Shanghai maps – containing unpublished surveys of Shanghai and her environs, which show the city during her Golden Age, and represent the most detailed and up-to-date mapping of the area produced before the Japanese invasion of 1937

Asia China
  • Author: FABER, S.E.; DERYN, C.T.; PEARSON, C.D.; and others
  • Publication place: Shanghai
  • Publication date: 1930–1937
  • Physical description: 38 lithograph, manuscript, and banda printed maps and plans, on paper, card, and wax cloth, some tears to borders, and old folds skilfully repaired.
  • Inventory reference: 14609


The archive of 38 maps cover not only the whole area of modern day Shanghai, but also Suzhou in the west and Hangzhou Bay in the south. The majority of the maps on the scale of 5000 ft to the inch (just under one inch to the mile). The collection contains works by and referenced by S.E. Faber, a surveyor and civil engineer working in around Shanghai during the 1930s, and provides a fascinating insight into the workings of a surveyor at the beginning of the twentieth century; out of the 38 maps, 27 are by Faber, of which 20 are manuscript, or bear manuscript annotations by Faber. Of the remaining maps the majority are referenced directly by Faber in his work.
The maps chart the progress of Faber’s surveying of the waterways and roads in and around Shanghai, especially those that connected Suzhou to Shanghai via the Huangpu River. In his endeavours Faber was attempting to update the previous waterboard maps that had been completed in the 1920s under the auspieces of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board, and those of Ferguson who had completed his important survey for the Imperial Marine Customs at the turn of the century. Faber also includes the mapping of the new motorways, that were spreading rapidly across the province in the 1920s and 30s, and the collection includes one of the only maps published to bear Faber’s name: the Automobile Club of China’s Official Road Map of Shanghai and District published in 1936.
The summation of Faber’s work are shown by three sets of large scale maps:

The first set (no. 1) consists of manuscript tracings by Faber of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board Map No.3’, produced and annotated by Faber between 1933 and 1935. The series consists of a key sheet and ten maps, all on a scale of 5000 ft to the inch. The maps, first published in 1927, were the most detailed and accurate maps available. Faber signs his name to the lower right, and informs us that he traced the maps in 1933. He goes on to note the numerous additions he has made to the maps, including the new motorways, data from Ferguson’s Imperial Marine Customs’ drawn up in 1900, and the surveying of waterways by himself and his colleagues C. T. Deryn, and C. D. Pearson.

The second set (no. 2) are Banda Machine copies of the key sheet, and sheets 2,3,8, and 10, from Faber’s tracing of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board Map No.3. The maps bear further manuscript annotations by Faber and his colleagues, including motorways and waterways. To the verso of map 2 and 8 are small manuscript sketch maps, and to the verso of map 3 a manuscript map on the same scale as the others of part of Taihu Lake west of Suzhou and marked Sheet 8A”; Faber notes to the bottom left that the map was sketched by him in the New Year of 1934.

The third set (no. 3), although unfinished, represents the culmination of Faber’s work, with the information from the previous two sets, and other sources within the collection, condensed into a new survey of the waterways of Shanghai and her environs. The key map which covers the land from Shanghai and Suzhou, and down to Hangzhou Bay, is incomplete with only the key and waterways between, Shanghai and Suzhou inked in. Although the title (in pencil) states: Key Map of Shanghai Waterways’, the maps also provide information on motorways, footpaths, walled cities, towns and villages, pagodas, hills, telegraph wires, and railways. The fourth map of Shanghai although not part of the set, is a close copy, on wax cloth, of the Shanghai sheet, with a compass rose and additional place names. The maps’ date range of 1934 to 1937, suggest that Faber’s endeavours to map the entire area came to an abrupt end when the Japanese invaded China in 1937, and took control of Shanghai. This possibility is given further weight by the inclusion in the collection of a map of Chongqing (Chuncking) (item 4), the provisional capital of the Chinese Republic during the Japanese invasion. The map bears a few manuscript additions, including contour lines, and the marking of the Chungking Hostel.

The remaining maps, with the exception of Faber’s map of the roads of Shanghai can be split into two sections. The first are manuscript surveys carried out by either Faber himself, or his two associates C.T. Deryn, and C. D. Pearson. The second are maps produced by, The War Office, The Whangpoo Conservancy Board, The Imperial Marine Customs, and Asiatic Petroleum, among others, that Faber used as reference material.

Manuscript Surveys (no. 5, 6, and 7)

There are four manuscript surveys. The first two drawn on tracing paper by Faber and Deryn, between 1934–1936, chart the waterways between Huodi Pond south of Suzhou to the point were the waterway joins up with the Hunagpu River, south of Songjiang. The third map charts the creeks to the east of Pagoda Island (Shanghai Sun Island), aboard the river boat the Pearl; with the final map by Pearson marking the waterways from Kanpu (Ganpuzhen) to just east of Pinghu, near Hangzhou Bay.

Reference Maps

The Whangpoo Conservancy Board (W.C.B.) (no. 8, 9, 10)

There are three W.C.B. maps; two maps are Banda Machine copies dated 1923, 1931 respectively and, cover the area from Shangahi, Suzhou, down to the Bay of Hangzhou; the other a chromolithogaph dated 1931, and surveyed by Y. Utne, covers the same geographic area, and bears gridlines of latitude and longitude added by Faber, together with waterways from Shanghai to Suzhou via Chingpu, Kunshan, and Sungchiang, highlighted in red.

The Whangpoo Conservancy Board was formed in 1912 to oversee conservancy and improvement works for the Whangpoo River. It consisted an executive board of three and a consultative board of six, headed by an Engineer-in-Chief (Friedman). The Board was established and wholly financed by the Chinese government, although foreign engineers were in charge of harbour improvements” (Yeung & Sung [eds.]). In addition to engineering projects, the Board commissioned some of the most in-depth surveys of the areas around Chekiang and Chiangsu provinces, drawing from earlier surveys.

The Imperial Marine Customs (no. 11)

The map has been traced, most certainly by Faber, in pencil from the original by Thomas Ferguson. The map shows Shanghai and the surrounding area to just east of Suzhou. Notes to the map describe the dredging of rivers, a note to the Whangpoo River reads: A running survey has been made of the upper reaches of the Wangpoo River, but the actual location of the banks are not determined”. A key to the the right of the title provides information on creeks navigable by house boat, by sampans only, shallows, bridges of ample, doubtful, and too low height, houses, administrative boundaries, roads, and Likin stations. Thomas Ferguson was a mapmaker active around 1900, based in Shanghai. In addition to this map, he also compiled Map of the Country around Soochow surveyed between 1900–1901.

The map was commissioned by the Imperial Maritime Customs, a tax collection institution jointly set up and managed by the Chinese, French, British and American representatives in 1854. Located in Shanghai, which had become a foreign treaty port since China’s defeat in the First Opium War in 1842, the service aimed to replace the previous imperial customs house. The new institution managed customs collection in the treaty ports between 1854 to 1948. Between 1862 and 1899, steam boats began to ply inland along the narrower waterways. Five new Treaty Ports and five Ports of Call had been opened along the Yantze and trade had grown enormously. So, to meet the altered conditions and calls for revision, Hart [Commissioner of the Imperial Maritime Customs] consulted the river port Commissioners and, as a result, revised Yangtze Regulations containing many provisions for tightening Customs control were put into effect on 1 April 1899” (Foster Hall 20). Ferguson’s map was commissioned in the same year and was likely part of the Customs Service’s drive to attain more knowledge of the area.

Asiatic Petroleum (no. 12, 13, 14)

There are three Asiatic Petroleum maps, all Banda Machine copies, dated from 1930 to 1932, they cover the provinces of Kiangsu, southeast and southwest, and Chekiang northwest. The detailed key below the map marks transport links, topographical features, mission stations, telephone, post, and telegraph offices, as well as wells, springs, and pagodas. To the lower right is a list of source material, which includes several War Office maps, Chinese postal maps, and the Wangpoo Conservancy Board maps.

The Asiatic Petroleum Company, founded in 1903, was a joint-venture between Shell Transport and Royal Dutch Petroleum operating in the Far East. The company operated in China until 1951, when its property was requisitioned under command of the People’s Republic of China premier, Chou En-Lai. Over the 1930s, the company commissioned a number of maps in southern China, mostly focusing on infrastructure in the provinces.

War Office Maps (no. 15)

A Map of Shanghai and Hangchow published by the War Office Geographical Section General Staff, with manuscript annotations by S.E. Faber. The map covers the area from the northern bank of the Yangtze to the southern side of Hangchow Bay. The present map records not only the size and location of the native cities but also the extensive foreign presence in this part of China, in the form of consulates and concessions. A key to the lower left provides information on transport networks, sea walls, telegraph lines, post offices, bridges, mission stations, sand and mud flats, and soundings. 
The War Office oversaw the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964. During this period, the Geographical Section, General Staff, produced extensive topographical and strategic surveys. 
The Pony Ride Map (no. 16)

A curious sketch map compiled by E. F. Turner M.C. from journeys made by pony from the airport at Hongqiao (now Hongqiao International Airport) to Sibang, then a group of hill villages. The best pony route is marked by a green dotted and dashed line. To the bottom right are detailed directions in English; creeks are marked by thick purple lines, paths are marked by a dotted line, together with stone and wooden bridges. The map would be referenced by Faber on his map of Shanghai.

Map of Taihu Lake (no. 17)

A sketch map of Taihu Lake printed on a Banda Machine. The large freshwater lake is situated just west of Suzhou. A note on Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Memo paper is attached to the upper left; addressed to Faber from J. G. Bewar, reads:

Dear Faber, Herewith chart I spoke of last night. I don’t know if its is accurate or not as it was given as a sample of photo prints. Probably you are not familiar with the old yacht club names, but there are still 3 of the yachts in commission, Pinafore, Thistle (ex Viola), and Wasp (ex Phyliss). Hope this may be of some use to you. Yrs etc., JGB Bewar”.

Faber Road Map of Shanghai (no. 18)

The final map is the only published work in the collection to bear the name of S.E. Faber. This detailed map encompasses Shanghai in the east to Sungkiang (Songjiang) in the west, and extends as far north as Taitsang (Taichang). The roads are market in red and blue, with a note below the title stating: Distances along roads are shown in red figures between points indicated by stars thus: * 17.45 *. Settlement Concession Licences are not valid on roads shown in red”. The red routes mark mainly the new roads that had been constructed to connect Shanghai to the surrounding towns. The map is not only rare, we are unable to trace another institutional example, but it would also appear to be the only published map to bear Faber’s name.

List of Maps

1. FABER, S. E. [Manuscript tracing by Faber of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board Map No.3]. 1933–1935.
2. FABER, S. E. [Banda Machine copies of the key sheet, and sheets 2,3,8, and 10, from Faber’s tracing of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board Map No.3]. 1933–1935.
3.FABER, S. E. [Three manuscript maps and a key map, charting the waterways west of Shanghai to east of Suzhou] together with: [A manuscript map of] Shanghai. 1934–1937.
4. JONES, G. R. A Map of Chungking compiled by G. R. Jones.
5. FABER, S. E., and DERYN, C. P. [Two manuscript maps chart the waterways between Huodi Pond south just of Suzhou to the point were the waterway joins up with the Hunagpu River]. 1934–36.
6. [?FABER, S. E.] [Map of the creeks to the east of Pagoda Island (Shanghai Sun Island), aboard the river boat the Pearl]. [?1934].
7. PEARSON, C .D. [Map of the waterways from Kanpu (Ganpuzhen) to just east of Pinghu, near Hangzhou Bay]. 1934.
8. WANGPOO CONSERVANCY BOARD. Map of the Whangpoo and surrounding districts from the Surveys of the Wangpoo Conservancy Board. The Shanghai Settlements are from Municipal Plans. 1933.
9. WANGPOO CONSERVANCY BOARD. Country between Shanghai & Soochow. 1923.
10. UTNE, Y. Whangpoo Conservancy Board Map No. 3. General map showing the district around and the approaches to Shanghai. Complied from the surveys of the Whangpoo Conservancy Board, Surveys of the Hydrographic Department Chinese Navy, The Marine Department of the Chinese Maritime Customs & Surveys of the British General Staff Supplemented by Information from various sources. Herbert Chatley Engineer in Chief. 1933.
11. FERGUSON, Thomas. Waterways near Shanghai Surveyed by Thomas Ferguson Imperial Maritime Customs. 1889–1900.
12. ASIATIC PETROLEUM. Kiangsu Province (S.E.) Also parts of Chekiang. Map 512. 1932.
13. ASIATIC PETROLEUM. Kiangsu Province (S.W.) Also part Chekiang, Anhwei. Map No. 511. 1932.
14. ASIATIC PETROLEUM. Chekiang Province (N.W.) also part Anhwei. Map No. 513. 1930.
Dimensions: (each) 760 by 1010mm (
16. TURNER, E. F. [Map compiled from journeys made by pony from the airport at Hongqiao (now Hongqiao International Airport) to Sibang, then a group of hill villages]. 1932.
17. [ANONYMOUS] [Map of Lake Taihu with note to S.E. Faber]. 1933.
18. FABER, S.E. Automobile Club of China Official road map of Shanghai and district. 1936. 


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