This unusually attractive map depicts the island of Trinidad, West Indies, in resplendent colours, predicated on official surveys completed in 1923. The topography of the island is elegantly rendered, while the map employs several different hues to show cities, towns and villages; county and ward boundaries; the delineation or roads (both completed and under construction); road district boundaries; as well as the routes of coastal steamers; while the numerous forest reserves are tinted green. It is certainly one of the most visually pleasing 20th Century maps of Trinidad.
The map was originally published within a government report, The Laws of Trinidad and Tobago containing the ordinances of the colony in force on the 30th day of June, 1925 (London, 1925).
The publisher Waterlow & Sons has a high profile and dramatic history. The company was founded in 1810, and quickly became a major printer of currency and postage stamps. While it continued to win major international contracts, epic fights within the Waterlow family complicated the firm’s operations. By the early 20th Century, the firm had diversified into making maps and travel posters, while still printing banknotes for several nations.
Shortly after the present map was issued, the company found itself at the centre of a major global scandal. In December 1924, the Portuguese conman, Alves dos Reis, posing as senior Portuguese treasury official, tricked Sir William Waterlow, the head of the Waterlow & Sons, into printing a large quality of counterfeit Portuguese banknotes. Waterlow, of course, thought that he was simply fulfilling a legitimate Portuguese government contract. The release of the fake notes nearly collapsed Portugal’s economy, in what became know as the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis. When the scheme blew up, it severely damaged Waterlow & Sons’ reputation. Ironically the high quality of their printing had allowed the notes to gain initial acceptance, and so fueling the crisis. The firm soon lost it monopoly on printing British Treasury Bonds and was successfully sued by the Banco de Portugal for its (admittedly unwitting) role in the scandal. Yet Waterlow & Sons persevered until it was sold in 1961 to Purnell & Sons, with many of its operations being subsequently taken up by esteemed firm of Thomas de la Rue. The Waterlow brand ceased to exist in 2009, just shy of it bicentennial.