Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree 1929
- Author: de Grineau, Bryan (artist)
- Publisher: The Boy Scouts' Association
- Engraver: George Falkner & Sons Limited, Manchester (printers)
- Date: 1929
- Dimensions: Sheet: 127 x 101 cms. Printed Map (without title): 105 x 70 cms
Stunning pictorial map poster by Bryan de Grineau advertising the Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree, Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, 1929
About this piece:
Title: Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree Arrow Head Park – Birkenhead – Open to the Public – July 31st to August 12th 1929
Artist’s imprint:(mid left) “Bryan”
Printer’s imprint (l. l margin): George Falkner & Sons Limited, Manchester.
Sheet: 127 x 101 cms. Printed Map (without title): 105 x 70 cms. Colour-printed lithograph. Wide margins. Traces of old folds, now entirely flattened out. Some old soiling & slight raggedness along bottom (right) sheet edge, now fully stabilised and reinforced. The sheet verso entirely backed with museum-quality archival tissue for better preservation & presentation. A few small surface repairs and minor areas of loss affecting a couple of the original fold junctures, now expertly filled & invisibly reinstated/retouched. Some very slight toning & light soiling to area of blank margin at lower centre. With all a very attractive and well-presented example.
A stunning tour de force of pictorial cartography and an extremely rare survival, this remarkable map was commissioned by the Boy Scouts’ Association to advertise and promote the 3rd Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree which took place at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead over a two week period during the Summer of 1929.
It proved to be the largest Scout gathering since the Organisation’s foundation twenty one years earlier – thus acquiring the soubriquet “The Coming of Age” Jamboree – and attracting some 300,000 visitors and over 50,000 Boy Scouts & Girl Guides along with their troop leaders from 41 nations across the globe.
Their decorative coats of arms beautifully embellish the surrounding borders of the map and reveal participants from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, British Guiana, Chile, The Falkland Islands, Siam, Hong Kong, Japan, and other exotic outposts of the British Empire such as Gambia, Gold Coast & Tanganyika.
The wonderfully imaginative and captivating pictorial map provides an aerial view of the North-west of England, extending from Crewe, Chester & North Wales (lower centre/lower left) to the Lake District & Yorkshire (upper left/upper right). The great industrial cities & historic towns are picked out with a large gold, yellow or pink scrollwork titles, their well-known townscapes and landmarks reproduced in charming three-dimensional vignette. In the Irish Sea, a cheerful pod of smiling grey whales accompany a fleet of medieval galleons and deliver groups of arriving Scouts into the congested Mersey estuary, adjacent to the Arrowe Park venue.
In the style of MacDonald Gill, the map is a riot of entertaining vignettes, humorous annotations & comic double-entendres, many of which cheekily reference the rich & vibrant history, culture & traditions of the cities and towns depicted. Perhaps amongst the most interesting of these is the reference to the town of Buxton (Bucks’ Town), as “Dr Voronoff’s Rival”. A meaningless reference to a modern viewer, during the 1920s and 1930s, the Russian-born French surgeon, Dr Serge Voronoff [1866-1951] gained worldwide notoriety for his controversial experiments with the grafting & transplanting of animal gland tissue. After initially experimenting with different domesticated animals, he subsequently began transplanting monkey, baboon & chimpanzee testicle tissue into human hosts, often wealthy and gullible American millionaires, who became the butt of several popular comic songs. Voronoff claimed the treatment offered a cure for premature ageing and senility & also led to much improved sex-drive & the visible “rejuvenation” of older men! His work was eventually disowned by the medical profession & scientific community and by the time of his death Voronoff”s experiments had attracted unmititgated scorn & ridicule.
At the lower right, a pair of smartly attired Scouts, with brimmed hats, multi-badged shirts, shorts, long socks, heavily polished brown brogues and familiar Scout pen knives neatly clipped to their belts, survey the unfolding scene. Arrowe Park itself is picked out with an enlarged title, below the red-bannered town of Birkenhead, a pink-toned circular encampment of scout tents and a Scout Wheel of Friendship, scout arms flung high to all points of the compass, clearly denoting that this is the true focal point of proceedings. Above this, a large panel surmounted by a wonderful compass spur, incorporating the form of a signalling Scout, provides pertinent information about the Jamboree itself, with details of how to get there, its principal attractions and daily entry prices. Reference is also made to the expected visits of the Prince of Wales, Prince George (the future George VI) and the Duke of Connaught.
The map is also awash with symbolic arrows, providing guidance for the crowds of scout troops converging from all corners of the map, some on foot, some by air, and all clearly heading in the direction of Arrowe Park. These symbolic arrows also mirror the real golden arrows given out by Chief Scout, Baden-Powell to a handful of the leading participants at the Jamboree’s closing ceremony on August 12th.
When the Prince of Wales attended the Jamboree in Scout uniform on August 2nd he announced that a peerage was shortly to be conferred on Baden-Powell. The ceremony actually took place before King George V on September 29th when he took the title Baron Baden-Powell of Gilwell, co.Essex. On the 10th August, amid celebrating crowds he also received the gift of a Rolls Royce motor and a caravan trailer, the result of penny donations from one million Scouts worldwide.
The closing ceremony on August 12th witnessed a march past with flags and banners in front of the Royal Box and assembled Scout leaders and officers. It concluded with a Wheel of Friendship made up of different Scouts and comprising 21 spokes, representing the 21 years of Scouting.
The final act of the proceedings was the symbolic burying of a hatchet in a cask of gilded wooden arrows, which Baden-Powell performed in front of the assembled crowds, announcing:
Here is the hatchet of war, of enmity, of bad feeling, which I now bury in Arrowe. From all corners of the world you came to the call of brotherhood and to Arrowe. Now I send you forth to your homelands bearing the sign of peace, good-will and fellowship to all your fellow men. From now on in Scouting the symbol of peace and goodwill is a golden arrow. Carry that arrow on and on, so that all may know of the brotherhood of men.
Then he sent the golden arrows as peace symbols to the North, South, West, and East, through the spokes of the Wheel of Friendship:
I want you all to go back from here to your countries in different parts of the world with a new idea in your minds of having brothers in every country… Go forth from here as ambassadors of goodwill and friendship. Every one of you Scouts, no matter how young or small, can spread a good word about this country and those whom you have met here. Try to make yourselves better Scouts than ever; try to help other boys, especially the poorer boys, to be happy, healthy, and helpful citizens like yourselves. And now, farewell, goodbye, God Bless you all.
The map itself bears the signature of the artist, “Bryan” , inscribed in the green foliage behind the figures of the two Boy Scouts in the lower right, confirming that it is almost certainly a rare piece of poster artwork by Charles Grineau [1883-1957]. Grineau’s father and namesake was a well-known Victorian illustrator and cartoonist [1852-1899] who also used the pseudonym, Alfred Bryan. The younger Charles also freely employed the two surnames, often interchangeably or in conjunction with each other, so sometimes signing his works “Bryan de Grineau” or equally “John Bryan“, or even, as here, just plain and simple “Bryan“. After taking up drawing at an early age in his father’s studio, Bryan served with the British Army during the First World War. Commissioned in 1916, he was subsequently promoted to the rank of Captain & Adjutant of the 41st Brigade, RFA. His vivid sketches of the fighting on the Western Front were published in the Illustrated London News and Illustrated War News. The pyschological impact of shell-shock led to him spending many years working abroad after the end of the war where he also continued with his artistic studies in Paris & New York. His name is probably best-known for action-filled sketches of speeding racing cars, express trains and fast-moving aeroplanes, especially during the 1920s & 1930s, now familiar & iconic images that have come to characterize the golden age of motor racing, steam & aviation. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was appointed an official British War artist and many of his remarkable sketches and atmospheric drawings from the frontline, especially in the latter years of the war, again appeared in popular contemporary magazines, including the Illustrated London News. He continued working for the Illustrated London News after the end of the War producing beautifully crafted sketches of British post-war life and important national events, including the Coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He died in St.John’s Wood in London in May 1957.
One fellow artist & close friend offered the following eulogy which was printed in the Times just a few days after his death:
He was accustomed to working at incredible speed and often under almost impossible conditions. He would draw a racing car at the pits with extraordinary delicacy abd accuracy, while other cars crashed past a few feet away and rain lashed down. The drawings he produced during the war must often have been sketched under conditions that would have made a kess single-minded man concerned only with finding cover. The exigencies of the Press, however, demanded speed in his finished drawings too. From my memories of working with him I can testify to the extraordinary feats of concentration he performed in turning a few hurried notes into a complete detailed picture to fill two whole pages in a matter of hours. The picture literally sprang to life as his charcoal moved with swift nervous strokes over the paper. Such speed and accuracy sprang from a foundation of fine draughtsmanship and brilliant technique. His pen and ink drawings and etchings, of which alas, there are too few, show the supple delicacy of his line, and he was particularly happy in his drawings of architectural subjects in these mediums. He was a fine artist, an excellent teacher and a most charming and kindly man.
Bryan de Grineau’s poster work is relatively scarce and this must be one of his least known and most unusual of commissions. We have been unable to trace any other examples of this poster in auction records or in institutional holdings & collections worldwide.
The same map image was however widely circulated & reproduced at the time. It appears in monochrome on the inner end papers of the official guide to the Arrowe Park event. And it was reproduced in colour & on a smaller scale for the verso of one of the handy guides offered to the tens of thousands of visitors and participants who came to Birkenhead during that Summer of 1929.