Click here to skip to content

Topographical prints and drawings: electronic catalogues

The British Library holds hundreds of thousands of topographical views, the most comprehensive and important collection in Britain.

Explore the British Library

Explore the British Library is generally not designed to accommodate searches for individual views, as illustrations to printed books have not been separately catalogued. Some topographical views are listed as a result of the works being acquired as individual items or listed in published catalogues (see The Map Library and The Department of Manuscripts)

Explore the British Library covers works held in various departments across the Library, some of which will only be viewable in particular Reading Rooms - Rare Books, Maps, or Asian & African Studies.

The nineteenth century catalogue of Manuscript Maps has also been scanned onto Explore the British Library system, and this can mean that some views held by the Department of Manuscripts are listed, but are not in fact orderable on the system.

Manuscripts Catalogue

The Department of Manuscripts uses a separate database system. Details of how to search the system are provided in the catalogue's search tips section. It is worth using the published catalogues as an initial guide if you are searching for topographical illustrations (see The Department of Manuscripts), and many items remain catalogued as 'collection' or 'volume' rather than listing the individual views contained within them.

Works held by Manuscripts are only viewable in the Manuscripts Reading Room, and are ordered on paper slips in the Reading Room.

India Office Select Materials Catalogue

The prints, drawings and photographs in the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections are catalogued on a database specially designed to describe works of art. The records are fuller and updated versions of the published catalogue records (see Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections), and are searchable in several ways - details are provided in the catalogue's search tips section. There are presently no images on the system.

Printed Books held by the Asia , Pacific and Africa Collections whose shelf mark begins with the prefix 'X' are orderable on the Integrated Catalogue, where they will have only a basic entry. But they may have fuller plate by plate descriptions of the illustrations contained in them on the electronic India Office Select Materials Catalogue.


The photographs catalogue is a custom-made database, the result of sponsorship from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, and aims to provide a detailed searchable database for locating photographs, photographically-illustrated books and texts relating to photography held in all departments of the British Library. No images are available at present, but it is hoped they will be added in the near future. Search tips are provided in the catalogue's search tips section.

PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.