Map of the European telegraph network

Weaver, Secretary E. & I. T. Co., MAP OF EUROPE compiled from the most recent Surveys Published for the ELECTRIC & INTERNATIONAL Telegraph Company Shewing the System of TELEGRAPHS WITH WHICH THEY ARE CONNECTED. London, [1859]/1863.
Lithograph, 31 ½”h x 38 ½”w, full wash color. Dissected and laid on linen, tipped into folding covers of plum-colored cloth over boards.

A fascinating and scarce thematic map of the early European telegraph network, as it stood during the American Civil War.

The first commercially-viable telegraphs were introduced almost simultaneously in the United States and England in the late 1830s. Nearly-instantaneous, long-distance communication posed an irresistible business opportunity, and a rush to establish lines ensued. On account of the huge infrastructure investments required scale was viewed a competitive advantage, and in 1855 the Electric Telegraph Company (est. 1846) and the International Telegraph Company (est. 1852) merged to form the Electric and International Telegraph Company. The merged firm was a great success, but in 1870 it along with other British telegraph operators were nationalized by the General Post Office.

The Company first published this map in or around 1859 to demonstrate its ability to convey messages almost anywhere in Europe and as far afield as North Africa, Russia and India. The map depicts Europe and part of the North African coast in outline, the whole hand colored by country but with no topographical detail. The telegraph network is overprinted in black, with stations shown by means of three different circular symbols though their meaning is not explained. Inset maps extend the coverage to Scandinavia, Libya and Egypt, and east of Moscow.

This seems to be the second, more common edition of the map, as the Smithsonian holds one bearing an 1859 date. Indeed this seems to be the second such map published by the merged firm, which in 1856 had issued The Electric and International Telegraph Company’s Map of the Telegraph Lines of Europe. A comparison of the two demonstrates the rapid spread of the telegraphic network at the time: For example, the earlier map shows no service below Palermo, while the map of 1863 shows southern Italy and Sicily perfused by lines, with an undersea connection extending on to Tripoli.

OCLC #17763677 et al, giving numerous locations. Antique Map Price Record lists a single example offered for sale by G.B. Manasek in 1993.


Minor spotting, trimmed close at edges as issued, else excellent.