The Avenger, not the octopus: Fred Rose’s other map of 1877.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to purchase a scarce map by Fred Rose, one which offers a few insights into Rose’s intentions when he created his most well-known map, his Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877.The latter famously depicts Russia as an inhuman octopus menacing its neighbours, but I had never appreciated that it forms one of a pair:


The Avenger, an Allegorical War Map for the Year 1877 also takes the Great Eastern Crisis as its inspiration, but this time Rose takes the part of the Russians:


I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Rose was similarly even-handed a couple of years later when he produced a pair of caricature maps for the General Election of 1880, one pro Gladstone, the other pro Disraeli. One can only speculate as to what Rose’s own politics were. I now discover that the same was true of the approach taken by Rose - backed, of course, by his publisher, G.W. Bacon - in covering the Great Eastern Crisis. If the number of surviving examples is anything to go by, though, it was the image of Russia as a rapacious octopus which caught the public mood, not this image of Russia as a winged ‘Avenger’, ‘an allegorical figure of Progress’ (bearing a suspicious resemblance to Tsar Alexander II). The figure wears a medallion commemorating the emancipation of the serfs (1861) and is driving a sword into the belly of the Turk, the blade of which bears the inscription ‘protection to the oppressed’. Rose is referring to the Bulgarian atrocities, generally referred to now as the April Uprising, which formed the main pretext for Russian intervention in 1877.  

England is depicted as George and the Dragon, actively involved in the struggle to settle the Eastern Question; Scotland, meanwhile, has time to catch up on the works of Sir Walter Scott … 


Recently unified Italy is presented in devilish form. The Pope, having lost his temporal power, is in flight. The Turk, portrayed as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ in this version of Rose’s map, is clutching his aching head. Greece, sensing an opportunity, is looking at the motto ‘God helps those who help themselves’. 


As usual Rose includes a legend to explain the symbolism, just in case any of his readers were in doubt about what was going on in any corner of the map. The British Library’s example has explanatory text in English and German - for a wider audience - but here it is in English only


Spot the difference (with a difference): two states of Crétée’s Satirical Map of Europe, 1914-15.

Crétée’s scarce First World War caricature map has cropped up on this blog before, but I have now had the opportunity to compare the two versions side by side:


It has laid to rest any lingering doubts I may have had that the version published in Paris, firstly under the imprint ‘Editions G-D’ and then by Editions Delandre, takes primacy over the version published in Warsaw by Vladislav Levinsky in 1915. The dates are there, of course (1914 in the title of the French map and 1914-15 on the Polish one, which was passed by censor in 1915) but there is other internal dating evidence. Here’s how Italy is presented in the French version:


By 1915 Italy had joined the war on the Allied side, and our moustachioed musician has swapped his mandolin for a machine gun, menacing the Central Powers:


  There are one or two stylistic differences too. Here is the Tsar in the French version:


And here he is again, on the Polish map:


The differences are really quite significant, not matched by changes to the features of the characters anywhere else on the map, and presumably they reflect local sensibilities. Possibly the revisions were even a requirement of the censor, prior to publication. The French Tsar is particularly haughty; in the Polish version he remains serene, but his features are softened, positively benign. The face is printed with more colour, and it is turned towards the reader. He is pinking the raging German bull with minimal effort, but he only deigns to observe it from the corner of his eye. There are one or two other changes:


Anatolia is left blank in the original version, but in the revised edition a file of be-Fezzed Ottoman troops disappears behind the legend after receiving their marching orders from the Sultan in Constantinople.

"The dogs of war are loose in Europe"

This map was conspicuously absent from the blog post on First World War satirical maps which I wrote over a year ago. “Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!” is a famous image, but I didn’t have an example in stock back then. I’ve finally found one and I plan to make up for my omission now, but if you are interested in how this map sits alongside others of this genre do read the earlier piece: 


The map was published by G.W. Bacon in 1914 with a title drawn from the traditional (and subversive) rhyme. We don’t know the artist, but it was designed by Johnson, Riddle & Co, and supplied with a text liberally sprinkled with dog-related puns by Walter Emanuel. As map-dealer Roderick Barron has noted, Emanuel was a regular contributor to Punch but he was specifically known to contemporary readers for his anthropomorphic dog books illustrated by Cecil Aldin, including The Dogs of War (London: Bradbury, Agnew & Co, 1906). His association with this piece can hardly be chance.

The belligerent powers at the centre of the map have been given appropriate canine form: a British bulldog, French poodle, German dachshund and - in reference to Austro-Hungary’s volatile ethnic fault line - an Austro-Hungarian mongrel. 

Britain is represented by a Churchillian sailor (Churchill was First Sea Lord and - only partially obscured by the whiskers of this humble Jack Tar - the features do resemble his; it may, however, be entirely coincidental: I may be influenced by the sub-Churchillian jowls of the British bulldog).  


Here’s the very German dachshund, complete with pickelhaube and Kaiser Bill moustache, getting a bloody nose:


It’s not exactly visceral stuff, but look closely and there are other splashes of blood. The Austrian mongrel is being stung on the foreleg by the Serbian hornet, but his tail is already caught under the Russian steamroller, piloted by the Tsar himself and threatening to crush the Central Powers through sheer weight of numbers.

The treatment of Turkey is particularly interesting. The Turk is one of the few human figures on the map (a failure of imagination on the part of the artist, or is the zoomorphic/anthropomorphic divide more pointed?) The Ottoman crescent is raised over Constantinople but the Imperial German tricolour flies from the battery protecting the Dardanelles and the battleships in the Black Sea. The artist acknowledges German military support for their Turkish ally, but the Turk is pulling the strings tied to the battleships and he controls the water gate which closes the Dardanelles to the British ships milling nearby. A foolish German lapdog of indeterminate breed, wearing a token fes, is tied to the Turk’s waist.   

The motif of battleships on strings is repeated by the British sailor on the other side of the map. We are invited to see them as iron dogs of war, straining to be unleashed, but it also gives them an unreal, toylike quality. This is a scrap between dogs and not to be taken too seriously. To quote from Emanuel’s text, as I have in the title of this post: “accidents will happen in the best regulated families”. Like other maps of this nature, it reflects the sentiments prevalent at the outbreak of war.  

UPDATE: March 1 2013. This afternoon I showed this map to a couple who came into the shop (looking for geological maps, initially …) and the first thing they said was “oh look, it’s Churchill”. The identity of the British sailor, top left, isn’t necessarily the most important feature of the map, but after thinking about it and discussing the map with friends I am even less convinced than I was a week ago that the widely accepted view - that it is a representation of Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty - is correct. I can see the popular appeal of presenting him as a humble rating, even adding some whiskers for effect, but the features are those of an older man. This could only be Churchill in 1940, not 1914. My money is on John Bull (who often does have whiskers and is generally presented as ruddy cheeked and in the prime of life).

A true original: A Comic Map of Europe, 1854.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that there was an early flowering of cartoon and satirical maps during the Crimean War, but they rarely turn up and so I was delighted to acquire this example:

"Done by T.O." which I think we can reveal with some certainty to be Thomas Onwhyn, and published by Rock Brothers and Payne in 1854, this Comic Map of the Seat of War is among the earliest satirical maps of Europe; certainly the earliest I’m aware of. Mind you, all the elements one finds in later maps by Fred Rose and his successors seem to be in place already, including the bad puns. The Caucasus become ‘Cork as us mountains’ with stoppered summits; the up-ended bottle clutched by the Turkish Turkey is labelled ‘the Sublime Port[e]’; Malta is represented by a foaming tankard of ale - ie malt.

Some references are vaguely historical or just plain whimsical, but without particular reference to the Crimean conflict. So, for example, Elba appears as Napoleon’s famous bicorne and Tunis is a banjo-playing lioness in hareem trousers and curly-toed slippers. Don’t ask me why. For the most part the imagery is carefully considered and entirely relevant. Neutral Italy is dismissed as a dog of indeterminate breed wearing a papal crown, and running scared (eyes swivelled behind) because a battered kettle -Sicily, possibly a neat reference to Mount Etna - has been tied to its tail. 

National beasts are much in evidence: the British lion; the imperial eagle of Napoleon III’s Second Empire; a rather dopey Russian bear, wielding a knout knotted with skulls and labelled ‘despotism’, ‘bigotry’, cruelty’, ‘slavery’, ‘ignorance’ and ‘oppression’ and other choice terms. Prussia, on the other hand, becomes a vacillating weathervane, unsure which side to support (if either). Poland is manacled, her very name spelled out in bones.

There is an optimistic early reference to the Baltic campaign. An Anglo-French fleet was dispatched in April 1854, and our map was printed in May. The fleet is helped on its way by Danish bellows, followed by a puff of breath from Stockholm, carrying the words ‘Go it Charley’. The tiny British admiral in the leading vessel, declaring ‘I’ll give him a flea in his ear’, is probably meant to be Charles Napier. It was the largest fleet assembled by the Admiralty since the Napoleonic Wars, and it achieved remarkably little. Public attention at the time - and public memory since - was mostly focussed on what happened in the Crimea.

In May 1854 most of that lay in the future. It was not until the autumn that Russian withdrawal from the Danubian Principalities led the Allies to search for something else to do with the armies which had been transported to the region with such great trouble and expense and blowing of trumpets. However, the Allied Black Sea fleet was already operational, and it is shown here clipping the Russian Bear’s claws around the great Russian naval base at Sevastopol.

The title and scale are worthy of note. The scale is a pair of scales, the ‘balance of power’, with the Russian bear outweighed by the combination of French cockerel, Turkeys, and British lion. The lettering ‘seat of war’ is constructed from soldiers of all the belligerent nations.

None of the scanty auction records or institutional catalogue entries which I have located credit a particular artist. However, the signature “done by T.O.” appears in Asiatic Turkey, in the bottom right hand corner of the map. An entertaining trawl with my friend Angus O’Neill through Bryant & Heneage’s Dictionary of British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Scolar, 1994) and Houfe’s Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Book Illustrators (ACC 1996) turned up Onwhyn as the most likely suspect. Right place, right time, “with an eye for the comic”. Not conclusive in itself, but a reminder of why I keep a proper reference library: googling ‘T.O.’ would get you nowhere. Houfe’s ODNB entry for Onwhyn is the clincher: Onwyhn signed himself T.O. and was associated with “shadowy publishers such as Rock Bros and Payne”. This was supported by a search on Worldcat, which showed that Onwhyn produced work for the firm on either side of 1854, and one can also look at images of other work by the artist; stylistically, it’s spot on.

According to ODNB, Onwyhn was born in Clerkenwell, son of a bookseller and newsagent. He was responsible for a set of illustrations for a pirated edition of Pickwick (of ‘singular vileness’ according to Dickens) and in Houfe’s opinion, Onwhyn’s “most lasting contribution was to the ephemeral end of the book trade in the 1840s and 1850s, illustrating the comic side of everyday life”. There wasn’t a living to be made, and he spent the last twenty to thirty years of his life as a newsagent, taking up his father’s profession.    

So, it seems we have Thomas Onwhyn to thank for inspiring a whole genre of similar maps. His name should be up there with Fred Rose. It is difficult to gauge the popularity or reach of the map, but a Belgian derivative exists, published in Brussels by Louis Mols-Marchal: 

Some of the imagery is repeated in later maps, which may suggest a certain awareness or continuity following on from this particular work. Discussing the relationship between the work of William Mecham and Lillie Tennant in an earlier post I was able to demonstrate that artists in this genre were well aware of both their contemporaries and predecessors: 

If you take a look at Louis Raemakers’ 1915 map you will see that he, like our anonymous mid-nineteenth century Englishman, has shown Gibraltar as a bulldog. And in 1914 Karl Lehmann-Dumont portrayed a Russian bear next to a knout-wielding lout. My post on WW1 satirical maps is here: Unfortunately the reliance on broad stereotypes which made all these maps so appealing to contemporaries makes it difficult for us to assign specific sources with confidence, but there’s no doubting that this Crimean map was the start of something new.  

The View from Japan, 1904

A very scarce satirical map, and one which I anticipate will be passing through my hands pretty quickly. However, as temporary custodian I can’t resist sharing it. It’s a delight.

Cartoon or satirical world maps are an unusual form in general, and only one institutional example of this particular map has been located (the Bodleian Library has a copy, part of the John Johnson collection of ephemera). ‘NEW COMICAL ATLAS - WHAT THE ANIMALS OF THE WORLD SAY’ by Kamijo Yomotaro was published in Tokyo in June 1904, a few months into the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. It was the first victory of an Asian power over a European in modern times. Russia suffered a series of humiliating defeats on land and sea (the Admiralty presented a lock of Nelson’s hair to the Japanese navy in recognition of the scale of their victory at Tsushima, likened to Trafalgar). The consequences were far reaching: Russian prestige was severely damaged and Japan entered the ranks of the Great Powers. And yet, many Japanese felt that the terms of the peace treaty were over-cautious, and that they had not been treated as equals. Mistrust of the West grew. That all lies in the future, so let’s see what the animals were saying in 1904.

The Chinese pig, Turkish pheasant, Hungarian hen and Persian quail are all in danger from the claws of the double-headed Russian eagle; that is, until the Japenese Golden Kite swoops to their rescue. The American tiger looks on approvingly. The explanatory text is given in English as well as Japanese (for export?) and the tiger says: “By Jove, that Golden Kite is small, but if he isn’t strong and generous! I have nothing but admiration for him”. The peace treaty was eventually signed in the US, and President Roosevelt’s mediation earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

The British hawk is also portrayed in a positive light: “I was rather surprised at Our Chum, Golden Kite being so brave and gallant. Get at the Eagle, friend. We station ourselves at Gibraltar and at Suez, so that in spite of his audacity, Mr. Eagle can’t swoop from that direction; we are always behind you in the case of a danger. So give him a good everlasting lesson with full hands.” The French owl is dismayed at Russian weakness, and the German bear resolves to keep quiet.

The lion of British India is a magnificent beast, looking warily towards Russian expansion in central Asia (‘that avaricious Eagle better take care of what he does. If he ever put his claws on the Elephant [Tibet], I will tear him to pieces’), and the Arabian camel is a delightful touch, making excellent use of the geographical space.

The course of true love …

I’m not much of a one for Valentine’s Day in the ordinary run of things, but I feel like making a special effort this year. So here are one or two whimsical ‘maps of matrimony’ - a popular nineteenth century genre which seems to have fallen by the wayside. You can make up your own mind as to whether that’s a good thing or not. Here’s a hand-drawn example:

The ragged coastline bears a passing resemblance to south western England and Wales - perhaps the ghost of a geography lesson (copying out maps was quite common in the schoolroom). At the top (north?) of the map we come first to the ‘Quicksands of Censure’ the ‘Isles of Temerity’ and the ‘United States of Agitation’ before passing through the ‘Province of Jewellers & Milliners’ and the ‘Mountains of Delay, inhabited by Lawyers’. Heading south we finally reach the ‘Port of Hymen’ which is located in the ‘Electorate of Bridesmaids’ (is it just me, or is that highly suspicious?) rather than the ‘Region of Rejoicing’. Crossing the Gulf of Matrimony and the River of Congratulation we reach … Petticoat Government.

Here’s a popular postcard on the same lines, c. 1900:

The principal tributaries of the Truelove River, the rivers Edwin and Angelina, have their sources in (respectively) Indifference Hill and Fancy Free Plateau. Once joined, they pass through Evasion Rapids, Sentimental Meadow, Separation Deep, Misery Marsh etc before emerging into Altar Bay and Honeymoon Island. Angrysire sounds best avoided …

If all this is getting a bit sugary for you, here’s French caricaturist Paul Hadol’s take on the state of love and marriage in France in 1869:

In map circles Hadol is probably best remembered for the satirical map of Europe he created on the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, but as this map prepared for weekly magazine L’Eclipse shows, it wasn’t the only time he toyed with cartographic imagery. His imaginary island is laid out in the traditional heart-shape, but on closer inspection the inhabitants prove terribly worldy. The island is split into three provinces by the rivers Absinthe, Gold Mine and Reconnaissance, which rather sets the tone. 

'Tenderness' is a woman hurling a (full) soup tureen at her husband, and only if one can navigate La Mer Dangereuse, past the suicide rocks, can one hope to reach ‘the unknown country of the Good Woman’ … I do hope someone bought M. Hadol a giant plush teddy bear that year.

Here’s another detail:

Only because I thought it would be more fun to leave you all with Billets doux and Grand Esprit

Quantitative easing, bubbles, and a fool’s cap map

I’ve had a run of luck unearthing cartoon and satirical maps lately, which is why they have dominated the last couple of posts, and I might as well round off the old year with one more. As financial crises (well, one enormous financial crisis really) have dominated the headlines all year this Dutch map seems especially appropriate. Here’s how economic meltdown was handled three centuries ago:

This anonymously engraved map of the ‘famous fool’s head island’ (Afbeeldinge van’t zeer vermaarde Eiland Geks-Kop) was published in Amsterdam in 1720. It’s a Dutch take on the folly of their French neighbours, satirising the Louisiana Bubble. Not that anyone on this side of the Channel had anything to be smug about as the South Sea Bubble burst in the same year.    

There’s a bit more to quantitative easing than ‘printing money’, but the tale of John Law and the Louisiana Bubble is still a cautionary one. Law was a colourful Scottish financier who inveigled his way into the confidence of the Duke of Orleans (then Regent of France), and was permitted to set up the Mississippi Company, which controlled all trade with France’s vast and largely unexplored American possessions - believed to be rich in gold and silver. He established the Royal Bank and issued paper money based on the supposed value of shares in the company. Eventually he was minting French coinage, collecting taxes and controlling the French economy to an extraordinary extent. The value of the shares soared, the French economy boomed, more paper notes were issued and after a period of wild speculation confidence collapsed, ruining investors throughout Europe.

This map is rather different from any of the satirical maps covered in my earlier posts. Instead of working with an existing outline (coastline, political boundaries etc) our engraver has created a wholly imaginary ‘mad-head’ or ‘fool’s-head’ island resembling a human head with ass’s ears and wearing a fool’s cap, set in a sea of shares and inhabited by shareholders (discovered by Mr Law-rens). Cartographic features are given punning names such as the River Bubble, the Island of Despair and the town of ‘Madmandam’. Any resemblance to actual geography (Louisiana, the Mississippi …) is purely coincidental. As such it’s in the tradition of maps of Utopia, matrimony or even gastronomy, which use the power of cartography to express abstract concepts. Here’s a modern take on the idea, a map of the ‘Meaning of Physics’ which my friend Jeremy Wood made with author Mark Vernon:    

Happy New Year everyone …

Update 21/02/12: Frank Jacobs has just covered this map in his entertaining and deservedly popular ‘Strange Maps’ blog ( and a). he says very nice things about me and b). he emphasises - quite correctly - that the satire is general, despite the specific invocation of John Law in the title. The four rivers flowing from the island are the Seine, Thames, Meuse and ‘Bubbel’, representing France, England and the Netherlands … and folly in general.  

Visions of Britain … 1914-1915

I don’t want to repeat too much I’ve just said in my previous post (and probably a good idea to read that first), but I thought it might be fun to compare the different depictions of the British Isles. One tends to encounter the plucky bulldog of Walter Emanuel’s “Hark! hark! the dogs do bark!" or the ruddy John Bull of Amschewitz’s "European Revue. Kill that Eagle!”, but these depictions range from mildly pro to downright hostile. Given the current state of the EU, satirists take note! That aside, I found it interesting to compare and contrast how the different artists had made use of the same geographical space.

Louis Raemaekers, 1914. Britain as clean-cut, claymore wielding Scotsman, with Ireland as his shield (a clever use of the cartography which could also be interpreted as making Ireland the first line of defence).

Walter Trier, 1914. A Scotsman again, but from another, hostile perspective … concealing the Grand Fleet under his kilt.

Karl Lehmann-Dumont, 1914. I described this one pretty fully in the previous post - apologies for the repetition: Bees issuing from the German hive are accompanied by zeppelins, one of which is jabbing Britain (this time an Englishman in a pillbox hat) in the guts, while a mailed fist emerging from the North Sea, smashing a devastating blow into his face, presumably represents the Imperial Navy’s High Seas Fleet. Ireland and India are both presented as liabilities: Ireland, a bottle in one hand, attempts to cut the chain which ties him to England with scissors held in the other, while an Indian snake is constricting the bulldog (all rather wishful thinking on the cartoonist’s part - the contribution of both nations to the Allied war effort was enormous, but this is propaganda … ) Note the sacks of money which the figure of the Englishman is standing on, supporting his weight. That’s a very old complaint indeed, going back to the Napoleonic Wars at least, that Britain could afford to bankroll others to fight her wars for her, stirring up trouble without risking British lives by intervening on the continent in a major way herself.  

Karl Lehmann-Dumont 2, also 1914. On this second map tensions between Ireland and England are not apparent. Ireland has become the bulldog featured in the map above, and England a crocodile, it’s jaws restricted by a band labelled India. 

E. Zimmermann, 1914. England is being shot in the backside, attempting to drag in a reluctant Ireland with a claw-like left hand, while holding a bulldog like a lap-dog under his right arm. Fleet/money are safely stowed where they shouldn’t come to harm. The snake is a reference to British propaganda - claims of ‘false victories’. 

Fritz Elsner, 1914. A rather weedy, unthreatening Englishman in a pillbox cap.

Anonymous, c. 1914. Pretty ropey cartographically, even by the standards of these maps, but it makes the point! A German battleship threatens London and peppers the behinds of the scrawny, cowering British bulldogs while Ireland looks on in pleased amusement. 

Vladislav Levinsky, 1915. As I wrote in my previous post, not the most flattering depiction of Britannia by an ally, but she looks capable! A reference to Britain’s naval might, with Erin keeping close company in an altogether simpler vessel.

Satirical maps of the Great War, 1914-1915

In one of my first posts I covered cartoon and satirical maps in a very general way (here: They have a long history, reaching back to the mediaeval period if not beyond, but they gained a new currency in the mid nineteenth-century, with fine examples associated with the Crimean War and the Great Eastern Crisis. As an illustration, here’s an unusual German map from that era, relating to the Second Schleswig War of 1864:


Jütland under der Herzogthümer richtige Gestalt 1864” is a hand-tinted wood engraving by one S. Israel, published in Hamburg by the Spiro brothers. The ‘correct shape’ of Jutland and the Duchy of Schleswig Holstein is depicted as a Bismarckian Prussian soldier. It was probably separately issued: the text at the top asserts copyright, and although Worldcat throws up a number of other publications by the Spiro firm which are journalistic in tone, there’s nothing which seems likely as a source from which it might have been extracted. The war was a key event on the road to German unification: Schleswig and Holstein were ceded to Prussia and Austria (it was to be the last successful conflict for the Austro-Hungarian Empire). 

This kind of map reached its fullest expression during the extraordinary outpouring of patriotic jubilation which greeted the outbreak of World War One - in all the belligerent nations. And it really does seem to have been limited to the beginning of the war, hence the 1914-15 dates in the title of this post. I haven’t spotted anything dated later than 1915, and imagery on the maps themselves, for instance an Uhlan riding down Russian bears, belong to the general euphoria prevalent at the outset of the conflict:


There are no cheeky satirical swipes at the horrors of the Somme, Gallipoli or Kut and one suspects that by 1916 the joke had worn thin. The political situation also reflects the early stages of the war. Most of the maps concentrate on Europe, but the cartoonists often went to great lengths to show how the rest of the world had become embroiled: Indian soldiers wading across the ocean to Britain’s aid, or Japan being reeled in on a fishing line. However, I’ve yet to see one from 1917-1918 which brings in the USA.

This won’t be a comprehensive account of all known Great War satirical maps. I’m going to keep with my usual policy of writing about maps which I have in stock and which I can refer to directly. These maps are no longer easy to come by and in the last few years they have become increasingly sought after, but I have a remarkably good selection at the moment: enough for an overall survey.


Me, with some of the maps, in the shop.

I’ve been asked what the purpose of these maps was, and the answer is straightforward enough: propaganda. Perhaps ‘morale boosting’ would be a kinder phrase. The language of the maps draws upon national symbols and stereotypes that were readily comprehensible both then and now: British bulldogs, Gallic cockerels, Russian bears … but they can be amazingly intricate, and often throw up a few surprises as well.

They were generally sold sold separately. A price appears on the original printed wrappers for Louis Raemakers’ map, and Walter Trier’s map - which I’ll come onto in a bit - was sold in aid of the Red Cross, priced 30 Pfennigs in the margin.

That brings me to another point: many of the artists were quite well known. Louis Raemaekers was a Dutch cartoonist and therefore, technically, a neutral. He crossed into Belgium in the wake of the German advance and what he saw drove him the create anti-German cartoons of such startling ferocity that the German government pressed the Dutch to put him on trial for compromising Dutch neutrality. He was acquitted but crossed over to London to continue his work. If one has any doubt about how significant this sort of propaganda was thought to be, it’s worth bearing in mind that the German government put a price of 12000 Guilders on Raemaekers head, dead or alive. Here’s his map:


Published in Amsterdam by Senefelder in 1915 the title ‘Het Gekkenhuis (Oud Liedje, Nieuwe Wijs)’ translates roughly as ‘The Lunatic Asylum (Old Song, New Tune)’. That seems fairly appropriate for a neutral observer in a world gone mad. In fact, although neutral Holland is looking on and peacefully pulling on a pipe, he has a revolver handy; unlike Spain and Portugal, which are intent on their own affairs, Holland is watchful, peering over his shoulder at his belligerent neighbour. (Compare it with some of the other takes on Dutch neutrality later on: Lehmann-Dumont shows Holland both as a harmless kitten and as a woman jostled by her neighbours, spilling the coffee she was trying to drink in peace.)

Raemakers’ figures fill the space, pushing and straining their national boundaries - unlike some of the maps we’ll come to later - but one significant fact is that they are all human. The mixture of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic characters on maps tends be be very deliberate: one’s enemies are less than human. There are no real grotesques on this map, although Raemakers makes his sympathies plain enough. The grinning, claymore-wielding Highlander representing the British Isles comes off pretty well against the pop-eyed German. Raemakers also predicts the end of empires: after some prevarication Italy had joined the war on the Allied side in 1915, and Russia and Italy together are pulling the Austro-Hungarians every which way. The depiction of Turkey is especially well thought through:


The Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers and received munitions and advisors from Germany. Raemaekers’ Turk is cutting his own throat, along the line of the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara, to Constantinople itself, using a sword stamped ‘made in Germany’. As the Italians are shown as active participants (i.e. the map post-dates the end of May 1915) this well crafted use of an existing geographical feature could also be read as a reference to the early stages of the Gallipoli campaign (from April), when Allied success still seemed to be on the cards.


This Karte von Europa im Jahre 1914 is a relatively early work by Walter Trier, a young man in his mid twenties at the time. Unlike Raemaekers, whose career was defined by the Great War, Trier was just starting out. My first encounter with his work (not that I gave it much thought at the time, although it made a lasting impression) were the illustrations in Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives, and his illustrations for children are probably his most lasting legacy. Nobody reads Lilliput any more - though if the magazine is remembered at all, surely it’s for Trier’s covers. But I found it useful to look again at his 1914 caricature map in the context of his later work, especially the anti-Nazi material the exiled Trier turned out in Britain during the Second World War.


This is Trier’s September 1940 cover for Lilliput, featuring his signature man/woman/dog combo; an altogether cuter version of Low’s “Very well, alone”.

In fact, just over thirty years after his caricature map was published he became a British citizen. Trier was born to a German speaking Jewish family in Prague and by 1910 he’d gravitated, naturally enough, to Berlin, but he fled Berlin for London in 1936. His Second World War political cartoons (unlike the Lilliput cover, above) are angry, sometimes visceral, always well-crafted. His Two Weeds: the Creeping Quisling and the Common Heydrich is reproduced here:

Back to the old Berlin of 1914, and Trier seems to have had a particular problem with the Montenegrans, which he depicted as lice, but otherwise everyone on this map is human again. Not that the Allies are shown in an especially flattering light. The French are retreating, dispatched with nothing more than a swift kick, and special bile is reserved for the British, represented by a Scotsman once more (as per Raemakers) but this time buck-toothed and beetle-browed, protecting the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet under the skirts of his kilt (a mocking reference to the caution with which it was deployed - and one can only assume that this image wasn’t held against him by British immigration officials in 1936). The attempts of the Russian giant to swallow Europe are checked by far more heroic German and Austrian figures. However, it’s interesting to note one or two discrepancies between the text and the image. The redacted text refers to the loyalty of Italy, which was initially expected to join the Central Powers as she was a partner in the defensive Triple Alliance. As it turned out, she initially chose to remain neutral, so the text/redaction makes perfect sense if the map was rushed to press soon after the declaration of hostilities. Similarly Romania, also blacked out, remained neutral until she too joined the Allies. However, neither are shown in especially flattering ways on the map. Italy in particular, with his huge hooter thrust towards Austria, has his hands in his pockets - a decidedly neutral stance. Perhaps Trier knew something his publisher didn’t …

The pair of maps by Karl Lehmann-Dumont, both published in Dresden in 1914 by Leutert and Schneidewind, are among my favourites for sheer wit and inventiveness.



Both entitled “Humoristische Karte von Europa im Jahre 1914”, the first is mostly anthropomorphic (but with notable exceptions) the second predominantly zoomorphic, with the Germans and Austrians cast as heroic (human) tamers of ravening beasts, armed only with whips and pistols, as if in a circus ring (1914 style …)

There’s so much going on here that it’s difficult to know where to begin. The text at the foot of the map is pretty comprehensive, which helps. Evidently even contemporary readers needed some exposition to get the full effect! The bees issuing from the German hive apparently represent the scions of the nobility (I would have guessed industry, but that’s my 21st century mind at work; this is the German equivalent of the lost generation). Spreading out across the continent they are stinging the crazed, boss-eyed Russian bear into submission. They are accompanied by zeppelins, one of which is jabbing Britain (this time an Englishman in a pillbox hat) in the guts, while a mailed fist emerging from the North Sea, smashing a devastating blow into his face, presumably represents the Imperial Navy’s High Seas Fleet. Ireland and India are both presented as liabilities: Ireland attempting to sever the cord which ties him while an Indian snake is constricting the bulldog (all rather wishful thinking on the cartoonist’s part - the contribution of both nations to the Allied war effort was enormous, but this is propaganda … ) Note the sacks of money which the figure of the Englishman is standing on, supporting his weight. That’s a very old complaint indeed, going back to the Napoleonic Wars at least, that Britain could afford to bankroll others to fight her wars for her, stirring up trouble without risking British lives by intervening on the continent in a major way herself.  


The treatment of the Ottoman Empire is again a highspot of the map. The Turk is shown reclining, his arm in a sling, lightly wounded by the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, but bearing a lit candle, which is impaled on the tip of a scimitar in his other hand and threatens to explode the powder keg under the loutish, drunken Russian. The outline of the Crimean peninsular becomes a puff of smoke. A stroke of genius.  

In the second map all of these figures have become predatory beasts: ravening Russian wolves, a ferocious Russian Rhino (which must surely be a first) and a British crocodile (connotations of deceit?) with an inset of a fine oriental dragon and monkeys representing the Japanese.


This black and white map by E. Zimmermann, published in Hamburg by W. Nölting in 1914, is almost equally elaborate.


Quite graphic too: the Russian is being shot in the balls while defecating into a chamber pot (the value of his supposed victories …)


The British and French snakes are an interesting touch - a direct reference to enemy propaganda, specifically lies about false victories. (Actually there’s a suggestion that British ‘black propaganda’, the other side of that particular coin, was so successful in the First World War that it contributed directly to starting the Second, nurturing many of the betrayal myths which proved so damaging.) I don’t particularly understand why the Russian bear is spraying insect repellent, there may be one or two in-jokes, now lost. The inclusion of a French colonial soldier is rather pointed: the deployment of African soldiers on the Western Front was contentious and one senses here that the Germans perceived it as underhand - or at least are presenting it as such.        

 Just a couple more maps. Printed in 1914 by the Verlagsgesellschaft Union in Charlottenburg, a suburb of Berlin, the colour printing of this map is a delight, very bold:


Instead of filling the available space the creatures on the map strut or skulk across it. It’s surprisingly effective, putting me in mind of the men and beasts which populate golden age maps. The anthropomorphic/zoomorphic divide is rigid; indeed the whole map is couched in terms of a hunt, a European hunt or ‘Europäische Treibjagd’ to be exact. The Central Powers and their friends (or at least neutral parties - though note Ireland gazing gleefully at England’s discomfiture) are human, the neutrals mostly peering at the action through spyglasses; their enemies are ignoble animals. Our anonymous artist has been scratching his head, wondering how best to bring in Japan, the usual problem, and he’s opted for a monkey dropped onto the periphery of the map. Geographically closer to the mark perhaps, or heading in the right direction anyway, but not as ingenious as Lehmann-Dumont’s boat/hook and line inset. The text simply indicates that the European menagerie has plotted to rise up against its noble master, but that it will soon be tame again. I note that the Belgian lion of the text has been substituted for a Belgian hare by the artist, a curious discrepancy.  

In Fritz Elsner’s map of 1914, published in Cologne by F. Klotz and G. Cremer, the characters also have room to breathe:


Only the skirts of blind-justice-Spain and the Scandinavian lion really fill the available space within their borders. This is clearly deliberate, and I’m wondering if the artist had in mind certain maps of the period which illustrate the relative size of the armies through appropriately proportioned uniformed figures standing next to one another. That would account for the solidity of the French, the skinniness of the British and the bulk of the Russian giant. Unperturbed, the Germans and Austrians are striking out at their adversaries on both fronts.  


This is the sort of table which might have inspired Elsner’s approach; this example is a detail extracted from the Daily Mail’s War Map of 1914.

Finally, here’s a highly unusual Polish map with cyrillic text, effectively giving the Russian take on things:


This ‘Symbolic map of Europe’ was published in Warsaw by Vladislav Levinsky, passed by censor on 9 April 1915 and (naturally enough, having been passed by censor…) it tows the official line. Many caricature maps show Poland struggling to be free, but Poland had been partitioned for more than a century when this map was made, and Warsaw was then the third largest city in the Russian Empire. The map is dominated by the serene figure of the Tsar, pinking the raging German bull without physical exertion of any kind. It’s quite unlike anything on the other maps we’ve looked at so far. The Tsar himself is the personification of Russia, and the Tsar himself will bring victory.


A version of the map was also published in Paris (by ‘Editions G-D’ as ‘Carte Symbolique de l’Europe … Guerre Liberatrice de 1914-1915’. The signature is the same, but dated 1914; the French edition may indeed have primacy, as our map is decribed as 2nd edition, top right) and this French connection may explain the contrast between a glamorous Marianne riding a fine specimen of a cockerel and the rather dowdy battle-axe in battleship grey which represents Britannia. I like Ireland, keeping company in some sort of fishing smack! The cartoonist is fairly kind to the countries on the periphery of the map. Russia’s neutral neighbours, Sweden and Norway, are portrayed as two beautiful women in a close embrace (enduring stereotypes again?) but in another break from the maps we’ve seen so far the Austro-Hungarian Empire is not represented by anything living at all, man or beast. Instead, a fallen crown lies on a barren plain, spotted with graves, bringing us full circle to the predictions of Louis Raemaekers and the fall of empires.

Not a map …


The reception of all these caricature maps is difficult to gauge, but there are clues. I recently discovered this British postcard by Gus Carswell, dated 1915: “This is not a distorted map of Europe … it’s just a ragtime kit inspection”.  The idea of ‘distorted’ caricature maps had become embedded in the public consciousness to the extent that they could be caricatured in turn. If one draws a loose line around the figures one can create a rough approximation of mainlaind Europe (the soldier with the kit bag as the Iberian peninsular; the tip of the toothbrush representing Denmark; the officer in the foreground as Italy, with the dog as Sicily …) Not as accomplished as the other pieces we’ve looked at, but interesting evidence that the currency of caricature maps was widespread. 

UPDATE: FEB 2013. They don’t come along every day, but I’ve bought an example of the 1914 Bacon/Johnson, Riddle & Co  caricature map “Hark! Hark! The Dogs do Bark!” and I’ve discussed it here:


The Indies Must be Free! Japan is cast as an especially sinister octopus, 1944.

In this context “Indie Moet Vrij” means that the Dutch East Indies should be Dutch again. Pat Keely’s poster, printed in London c. 1944, was presumably aimed at those Free Dutch troops still in England and, as the war progressed, the population of the partially liberated Netherlands. The end of the war in the Dutch East Indies was particularly messy; like the Netherlands itself, it was largely bypassed by Allied forces, which in this case were driving towards the Japanese homeland. During the Japanese occupation millions died from starvation or through forced labour, but the confused months after VJ Day saw the continued internment of European nationals and fighting between Indonesian nationalists and Japanese soldiers still under arms (here, as elsewhere in the region, the Allies made widespread use of Japanese Surrendered Personnel; JSPs - PoWs by another name - were employed on reconstruction projects and, with even more dubious legality, participated in direct military action. The transition from war to peace created some strange bedfellows). Dutch authority was eventually restored, but within five years had been superseded by freedom of a kind not envisaged by the makers of this poster: in 1949 Indonesia was recognised as an independent nation.    

Pat Keely’s octopus is squarely in the tradition of cartographic cephalopods established by Fred Rose in the 1870s. Rose’s octopus is squat, almost slug-like, with sunken eyes and fat but powerful tentacles. Keely’s octopus is lithe, with pinprick demoniacal eyes, the slender tips of its tentacles curling with whiplike precision around the principal islands of the archipelago. The principle remains the same: one’s enemy is less than human. Keely wasn’t the only artist to have brought Rose’s concept into the mid twentieth century. A Vichy French poster featured in the British Library’s Magnificent Maps exhibition last year cast Churchill in the role.

Patrick Cokayne Keely (?-1970) was a well known poster artist, who designed posters for London Transport and the GPO among other clients. His posters were characterised by simplicity of design and strong use of colour, highly effective in conveying a simple message, as here. To see a couple of other examples of his work click here: Nightmail is immensely atmospheric and another smart use of cartography. The track becomes the spine of the country, with signal lamps picking out the principal cities on the route north. 

Just by way of contrast, here’s Rose’s original octopus:

I have to confess that this is not a photograph of an original example from the 1870s. I normally like to show original material which I have with me in the shop, but I simply don’t have one of these at the moment. But it is an original hand-printed lithograph. This is one of a number which the excellent Colin and Megan of Artichoke printers made for me, using traditional techniques, after we had worked together on the Tern Television series ‘The Beauty of Maps’ for BBC 4. I still have one or two, and I think they have some too: The originals have become so expensive, and so difficult to locate, that I can recommend this as a way of enjoying the map. And it is a proper lithograph, not a laser copy!