John Tallis

John Tallis (1838-51) founder of Tallis and Co., London map publishers who traded under various names: L. Tallis, Tallis & co, John Tallis, John Tallis & co. (London & New York) between 1838 and 1851. After 1850-51, their maps were published by the London Printing and Publishing Co., London and New York. The Illustrated Atlas of the World, published in 1849 with the maps and decorative vignette’s engraved and drawn by John Rapkin, was one of the last atlases to be truly decorated and is therefore highly prized.

These atlas maps were first published in serial form to a target audience for which the expense and hardship of travel was prohibitive. The progress of the nineteenth century brought swift and dramatic changes in public awareness of far-away places. Tallis’ maps likely played an important role in this dramatic awakening. These maps not only provided up-to-date geographical knowledge, but also used vignette views within the map’s design to show the native people and their occupations, cities and points of interest. The maps remind us of a cartographic tradition from the Dutch mapmakers of the seventeenth century with finely engraved decorative borders.

Rapkin’s maps included views drawn and engraved by a number of prominent artists. The maps were issued as a complete volume from 1851 until about 1865. Some of the maps were also published in other history books published by Tallis including the British Colonies and, without the vignettes, in geographical dictionaries and encyclopedias until about 1880.

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