Ronald Vere Tooley (1898–1986) was born and educated in London. He served in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles in World War I and was one of a minority in his regiment to survive the Battle of Cambrai. In 1919 he joined the London booksellers Francis Edwards Ltd and throughout the 1920s he produced catalogues of rare books and old maps. He eventually established his own business—the Atlas Bookshop—but it closed in 1936. After World War II he rejoined Francis Edwards and in time became one of its directors, retiring in 1976.

Tooley devoted a great deal of his time to the history of mapping, carrying out research in the Map Room of the British Museum. His seminal work Maps and Map-makers (912 TOO) was published by Batsford in 1949; five further editions appeared in his lifetime. In 1963 Tooley and Robert Stockwell founded the Map Collectors’ Circle and began the Map Collectors’ Series. Tooley was the author of over 30 works in this series, covering maps in Europe, Africa, North America and Australasia. They included Printed Maps of Australia, which appeared in seven parts in 1970–73. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers and The Mapping of Australia were both published in 1979.


Tooley sold his collection of Australian maps to Nico Israel Antiquarian Bookseller of Amsterdam. The Library purchased the collection from Nico Israel in 1973.


The collection comprises 1277 published charts and maps, nearly all of which had been described in Tooley’s Printed Maps of Australia. Dating from the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century, they include maps of the Pacific and New Zealand, as well as Australia. The strength of the collection is in maritime maps and general maps, including maps of explorers’ routes. Many of the maps had been extracted from atlases.

Individual map-makers represented in the Tooley Collection include Aaron Arrowsmith (1798–1823), John Arrowsmith (1832–62), Allard family (1660–79), Adam and Charles Black (1839–73), Blaeu family (1642–50), James Cook (1772–84), Vicenza Coronnelli (1696), Alexander Dalrymple (1767–94), William Dawes (1792), Hendrick Doncker (1650–90), John Dower (1831–47), Adolphe Dufour (1840–70), Dumont D’Urville (1826–47), J. Bruny d’Entrecasteaux (1807), G.W. Evans (1822–23), William Faden (1773–1822), Matthew Flinders (1814), Louis Freycinet (1801–08), Pieter Goos (1666–72), Thomas Ham (1864–66), Henricus Hondius (1638–1700), John Hunter (1789–92), Jan Jansson (1650–1700), William Johnston (1844–90), Johannes van Keuelen (1680), Phillip Parker King (1824–33), Adam von Krusenstern (1824–35), John Norie (1816–58), George Philip (1852–77), John Sands (1886), Edward Stanford (1856–93), Tallis & Co. (1851–54) and the Wyld family (1837–72).

The collection also contains a large number of charts issued by the British Admiralty and the French Admiralty and maps produced by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.


The collection is held in the Maps Collection. All the maps are catalogued; the call numbers have the prefix T. The maps have also been digitised and are accessible on the Library’s website.


Campbell, Tony and Kay, Terry, Obituary of R.V. Tooley, Imago Mundi, vol. 39, 1987, pp. 80–1.

Newby, Valerie G., R.V. Tooley: Twentieth-century map trade pioneer, IMCoS Journal, No. 161, June 2020, pp. 41-4. 

Wallis, Helen and Tyacke, Sarah (eds), My Head is a Map: Essays and Memoirs in Honour of R.V. Tooley, Francis Edwards and Carta Press, London, 1973.