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Jan Wijga Wereldkaart c1934

  • Author: WIJGA, Jan
  • Publisher: A.V.R.O. (Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep), Amsterdam
  • Date: c1934
  • Dimensions: 18 sheets each 16.5 x 23cms, when joined, 100 x 70 cms


Jan Wijga’s rare 18-section pictorial World map, an entertaining cartographic game for young 1930s radio listeners in Holland

About this piece:

[Wereld Kaart – Reis om de Wereld]

Untitled Pictorial World Map comprising 18 separate colour-printed sectional sheets

Eighteen separate colour-printed sheets, each approx 16.5 x 23 cms, when aligned (6 x 3) forming a complete pictorial World map, circa 100cms x 70 cms. Light toning to peripheries of a few individual sheets but overall a very fine set. Accompanied by an explanatory booklet outlining the 151 featured images highlighted on the map. Included also the original brown paper presentation envelope with printed letterpress to front, the poor quality paper now flaking & beginning to split along exposed edges on all four sides.

This unusual and highly decorative pictorial map design by the well-known Dutch graphic artist and illustrator, Jan Wijga [1902-1978] appears to have been a free gift that formed the central element of a special 1934 geographical competition for young listeners of the Dutch public radio broadcaster, AVRO (Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep)

The competition was apparently launched on the Eve of St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) (5th December) 1934, a date of immense significance in the Netherlands given that it is the evening on which Sinterklaas, with his helpers,  Zwaarte Pieters, delivers gifts & presents to all Dutch children.

Wijga’s colourful & decorative map supposedly charts the worldwide travels of Sinterklaas during this period, highlighting an array of indigenous peoples, animals & wildlife and exotic scenes & landmarks around the globe. Designed as geographical puzzle or game, AVRO’s young listeners were apparently encouraged to identify as many of the numbered features as they could find on the fully assembled pictorial map.

Indeed the accompanying 4-page guide to the map provides a key to the numbered features on the map. AVRO’s competition entries were to be concluded on 1st February 1935. On offer were an array of generous prizes to the winners, including bicyles, meccano sets, aircraft models, alpine sledges & skates.

Examples of Wijga’s map, such as that in the Rumsey Collection, are also known in full uncut format and were presumably used in the wider marketing & promotion of this A.V.R.O. Sinterklaas competition. The uncut map also appears to have been reissued in subsequent years with several different imprints, including that of Dutch airline KLM.

Born in Leeuwarden in 1902, Jan Wijga studied art in Amsterdam before enjoying a long & highly successful career as a commercial illustrator & poster artist. From the 1920s through to the 1960s, his prolific poster output included designs for such well-known clients as KLM, Philips Radio, Ford, Amstel Bier, Heineken & Bols. He died in Eindhoven in early December 1978, three days short of his 76th birthday.

References: Rumsey Collection