Cover codes

Throughout the nineteenth century, the Ordnance Survey issued maps as flat sheets and it was left to those who sold them to put them into covers. Thus, early maps are found in a variety of covers or just dissected onto cloth and folded.

To 1919
Before 1900, a lot of maps are found in marbled covers—MB, often with a map agent's label on the front. The first Ordnance Survey covers appeared on the coloured version of the one-inch Revised New Series around 1897. Thereafter, until about 1919, covers were usually red or white waxy cloth, with the royal coat of arms at the top and just text or text with an index diagram beneath. Sometimes the details were stamped onto the front of the folded map.

AG—Covers supplied by Ordnance Survey agents
DP—Direct printing of cover details onto folded map
MB—Marbled paper used for covers
RL—Red waxy cloth cover, black text without diagram of map area
WD—White waxy cloth cover, black text and diagram of map area
WL—White waxy cloth cover, black text without diagram of map area

After the First World War, covers became more decorative, with most being designed by the Ordnance Survey's own artists, especially Arthur Palmer and Ellis Martin. Most series had a distinctive cover design, with full colour illustrations for the various tourist and district maps.

For those interested in map covers, Map cover art by John Paddy Browne is the essential book; especially useful are the 199 small coloured examples of map covers (see Books section of this site).

AG—Covers supplied by Ordnance Survey agents
AP—Arthur Palmer design
BC—Black car, orange sky
BU—Buff covers
EB—Ellis Martin design on buff
EM—Local view or series design by Ellis Martin
ER—Ellis Martin design, red and brown on buff
HK—Roadside hiker reading map
HOY—E.J.Hoy design
LB—Large, with buff border; green design (Half-inch maps) or red design (Popular Edition)
SG—Small, all green border
SR—Small, all red border
WI—J.C.T. Willis design

1945 to the present
After the Second World War, covers continued as a mixture of standard series designs and artist illustrated covers.

A—Small, red and cream 7th Series design
AB—All blue, Quarter-inch Fifth Series design
B—Large, red and cream 7th Series design
BL—Black border, laminated
BW—Blue and white (or cream)
C—Large, red and white laminated 7th Series design
CB—Cream and blue
CR—Crest design pre-1940 or crest in top left corner, post-war
D—Large, all red laminated 7th Series design
FS—Frederick Sands design
GB—Black and white design on Great Britain outline, Quarter-inch Fifth Series design
LA—Large covers
OSI—Ordnance Survey of Ireland
RB—Red and blue
RC—Red and cream

More information will be found with each list of maps if needed.

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