1883 Stanford Map of the Isthmus of Kra, Thailand (Siam) and Burma

Outline Sketch to Illustrate Remarks. - Main View

1883 Stanford Map of the Isthmus of Kra, Thailand (Siam) and Burma


A perilous course through Siam.


Outline Sketch to Illustrate Remarks.
  1883 (undated)     27 x 18 in (68.58 x 45.72 cm)     1 : 253000


This is a scarce 1883 folding map of the Isthmus of Kra, including the border between British Burma and Siam, and its surrounding waters that appeared in Alfred John Loftus' book Notes of a Journey across the Isthmus of Kra. Although remarkably detailed in some respects, it also demonstrates the challenges in surveying the dense jungle and mountain terrain.
A Closer Look
The difficulties of traversing the waters and terrain are evident, both in what is included as well as what is excluded. On the water, hazards, sand banks, and shallow water are omnipresent, and Loftus provides notes about the dangers of the Kraburi River. Periodic comments provide additional information on weather and tides. On land, Loftus was forced to approximate the location and course of mountain ranges which were too difficult to cross (using the methods described in a note at bottom).

Two cross-sections of routes across the isthmus are included at top, one depicting the elevation changes between Kra and Chumphon when traveling by elephant, and the other being a similar illustration of an area further to the south on the isthmus, between the Bay of Bengal and Lang Suan (Langsuen) on the Gulf of Siam. Notes on land provide additional interesting details, such as the location of a British police stations guarding the 'Anglo-Siamese Boundary,' and the anchorage of the H.M.S. Nemesis in 1859 (Royal Navy ship, not the more famous East Indiaman).

Loftus had joined a French survey expedition which travelled up the Lang Suan River, which allowed for its course to be relatively well mapped. Even today, this area is quite remote and a significant portion of it has been set aside as a national park land (Namtok Ngao and Lamnam Kra Buri National Parks); Ranong (Rehnong), noted here for its tin mines, and Chumphong (Chumpon), are the largest towns.

As far back as the 17th century, proposals have been made to build a canal across the isthmus, but practical difficulties and British opposition (meant to protect the importance of Singapore) prevented these plans from being realized during the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, the notion has been revived as part of China's 'maritime silk road,' but opposition both within and outside of Thailand have prevented forward progress.
Publication History and Census
This map and chart was printed by Stanford's Geographical Establishment in 1883, for inclusion in Alfred John Loftus' book Notes of a Journey across the Isthmus of Kra. It is only independently cataloged with the National Library of Singapore and is very scarce to the market, while Loftus' entire book is distributed among major research universities in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Southeast Asia.


Edward Stanford (May 27, 1827 - November 3, 1904) was one of the most prolific map publishing firms of the late 19th century. The company began as a partnership in 1848 between the 21 year old Edward Stanford and the established map dealer Trelawney Saunders. By 1853 the partnership had dissolved and Edward Stanford took full control of the business. A subsequent series of expansions and exciting new map issues finally led to the production of Stanford's masterwork, "Stanford's Library Map of London". This map is still available and remains somewhat accurate. At the time of publishing it was hailed by the Royal Geographical Society as "the most perfect map of London that has ever been issued". In 1882 Edward Stanford Sr. passed the firm on to his son, Edward Stanford Jr. who continued in his father's proud tradition. Today the Stanford firm still publishes maps and remains one of the most important and prolific cartographic publishers in the world. Learn More...


Loftus, Alfred John, Notes of a journey across the Isthmus of Kra, made with the French government survey expedition, January-April, 1883..., (Singapore: Singapore and Straits Print Office) 1883.    


Good. Rebacked. Wear along fold lines. Small wormholes at various points apparent on close examination.