Rare reduction of Greenough’s geological map of England and Wales
By GREENOUGH, George Bellas, 1826
A Geological Map of England and Wales reduced by permission from the map in 6 sheets published by the Geological Society.
- Author: GREENOUGH, George Bellas
- Publication place: London
- Publisher: Published by J. Gardner
- Publication date: July 21st, 1826.
- Physical description: Engraved map, fine original hand-colour, dissected and mounted on linen, folding into original green cloth slipcase, with publisher’s label.
- Dimensions: 685 by 560mm (27 by 22 inches).
- Inventory reference: 12588
Greenough decided (as he claimed later) that Smith did not have the resources to complete the project and initiated the production of an official map on behalf of the Geological Society. Greenough’s map, with the financial backing of the Society, benefited from expert draughtsmanship and engraving, which Smith could not afford. Unlike Smith, however, Greenough did not conduct field work himself. Instead, he relied on the work of other geologists, including Smith — both he and the Society are on the list of subscribers to Smith’s map — creating much debate as to the extent to which his map is derived from Smith’s. It is clear that Greenough’s work drew on Smith’s method of delineating strata, and he does not credit Smith at all for this. There are, however, several stylistic differences between the two: Greenough uses a scale of 6 miles to the inch rather than 5; retains the topography whereas Smith removes it; and uses flat areas of colour rather than the fading watercolour washes employed by Smith.
Greenough’s map, and its lack of fieldwork, was met with a scathing reception by some. The geologist Thomas Webster called it “so very defective and inaccurate that I was obliged to begin de novo” (Winchester). It sold, however, by virtue of being produced under the auspices of the Society and because it was cheaper than Smith’s work, which has been suggested as a deliberate ploy on Greenough’s part (Winchester). Greenough was forced to defend his actions later, arguing that the similarities between his and Smith’s work came about because both works were correct. Eventually, the 1868 edition of Greenough’s map credited Smith for the first time, but by then it was too late. Smith had died in 1839, heavily in debt and unacknowledged.
- John Farey, Philosophical Magazine, 3 May 1815
- Whatever is Under the Earth: G. L. Herries Davies, The Geological Society of London 1807–2007 (London: Geological Society of London, 2007)
- Simon Winchester, The Map That Changed the World: A Tale of Rocks, Ruin and Redemption (London: Penguin, 2002). Ward & Carozzi 882