Politics personified: Fred W. Rose and Liberal & Tory serio-comic maps, 1877-1880 – Part 1

Fred W. Rose and Liberal & Tory serio-comic maps, 1877-1880 – Part 1

In W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan’s famous comic operetta, Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri [1882], which so cleverly lampoons the British peerage and House of Lords, Private Willis of the Coldstream Guards, standing on cold & lonely night duty in the Palace of Westminster Yard, muses on the dim-whitted faculties of the country’s elected representatives, as well as the inherently bi-partisan nature of the British political system:

When in that House M.P.s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
They’ve got to leave that brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell ’em to.
But then the prospect of a lot
Of dull M.P.s in close proximity,
All thinking for themselves, is what
No man can face with equanimity.
Then let’s rejoice with loud Fal la–Fal la la!
That Nature always does contrive–Fal lal la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal lal la!

It was this divisive bi-partisan political system which, in the second half of the 1870’s, saw the Tories and Liberals adopt increasingly divergent positions on foreign affairs, in particular in relation to the “Eastern Question” – the regional fall out in the Balkans arising out of the political decay of the centuries-old Ottoman Empire, the “sick man of Europe” – and the rapidly escalating  Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 that followed the 1875 Bosnian & Bulgarian Uprisings.

And that fractured divide reached new heights of political spin and propaganda in the head-to-head clash of the two great titans & decades-old adversaries of the Tory and Liberal establishment – Benjamin Disraeli (from 1878, elevated to the peerage as Lord Beaconsfield) and the titular Liberal leader, William Gladstone – in what would be one of their final political show-downs: the 1880 British General Election.

These increasingly outspoken and divergent political Liberal and Tory views found a growing outlet & expression in wider British society: in the popular songs of the Music Hall, perhaps best-known today in the shape of the great impresario, George Macdermott, whose famous 1877-8 War song gave rise to the term “jingo” (& whom many Liberals suspected of being bankrolled by the incumbent Tory Party); in the opinions of the politically active press and its associated pamphleteers; in popular satirical prints and political posters of the time; and not least in the increasingly popular “serio-comic” map genre, which in this period has come to be so closely associated with the name of Fred W. Rose [1849-1915].

Two rare contemporary examples of this satirical cartographic propaganda were recently offered for sale at Dreweatts Bloomsbury Auctions in their Bibliophile sale of Feb 25th 2016 in London, Lot 323 & Lot 324.

The former Lot offers a view on the political situation in Europe in 1877, the latter a view on the British General Election of 1880. Both maps – the first anonymous, the second authored by the mysterious “Nemesis” – were erroneously catalogued by Dreweatts Bloomsbury’s experts as being the work of Fred W. Rose.

This is almost certainly not the case.

Given my extensive researches on Fred W. Rose and his fascinating life & career, this new blog post seemed a timely opportunity to  put the record straight on this matter and to correct the frequent miscataloguing & misinformation that continues to surround this particular series of maps. It is also a chance to provide a fuller and more detailed exposition of Rose himself, the political context in which these maps were produced, and their wider impact and influence during this highly volatile period of domestic and international affairs.

It is absolutely inconceivable that Fred W. Rose could or indeed would have been the author of these above two maps, given that they both propound such an overtly Gladstonian & radical outlook on the contemporary political situation in Europe and Great Britain.

Rose himself was a dyed-in-the-wool Tory of the deepest political convictions. His application to one of Victorian Conservatism’s principal bastions – the Junior Carlton Club – had been submitted by his father, Major High Munro St.Vincent Rose [1800-1867], after the newly formed club had first opened its membership books in 1864 and when Fred was still a teenager. His candidature was endorsed by the then Tory Chief Whip, Col Thomas Edward Taylor M.P – a note beside Fred’s application reading “Col Taylor recommends”! A loyal Tory evidently in the making…

The Junior Carlton Club (est 1864 completed 1869)
The Junior Carlton Club (est. 1864, completed 1869) – a bastion of “hot Toryism”: Fred W. Rose was proposed as a candidate for membership of the new club in 1864, whilst still a teenager

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

As George Hay noted in his 1870 account of the Junior Carlton, The Club and the Drawing Room being Pictures of Modern Life: Social, Political and Professional:

The moderate constitutionalism of the Carlton becomes the hot Toryism of the Junior Carlton; the distrust of Mr. Gladsone prevalent at the former, becomes a burning hatred and broadcast denunciation in the latter. The members of the Junior Carlton are in fact as staunch partisans as you could desire to meet. They rather enlarge upon and exaggerate than tone down or subdue any of the angularities of sentiment entertained by the members of the Carlton founded in 1832…

A poem written on the death of his faithful dog Robbie in 1890 suggests that Rose had taught his canine companion to growl instinctively at any mention of Gladstone’s name and to bark equally approvingly for Salisbury & Disraeli!

Rose maintained a lasting admiration for latter and a passionate distrust & dislike of the former, and this was undoubtedly reflected in the content of his several serio-comic maps.

In Notes of a Tour in Spain [1885], during he and his wife’s stay in Salamanca, Rose takes the opportunity to expound his profound dislike of Gladstone as he reflects on the wider effects of indigestion, after this excuse is given as cause for an otherwise inexplicable volte-face of a fellow German tourist, who in turn praises then just as shortly afterwards abuses & belittles the greatness of Spain & its culture:

If a man’s views can change so thoroughly under the influence of indigestion, what might not be done by the judicious plying of Mr.Gladstone with the occasional half-baked potatoes – nay is it not possible that some of the great minister’s actions such as the Transvaal humiliation, the failure to relieve Tewfik Pasha and Gordon, and the inactivity of his government in the face of recent Russian advances may be due not so much to the devil himself as to one of those cooks who according to the witty saying are supposed to be his special handiwork…

Here was a man who, from the early 1870’s onwards, was an active participant in both local Conservative & Primrose League organizations in the Chelsea and Kensington areas of West London, close to his Cromwell Crescent residence.

The Opening of a Primrose League Habitation in West London in 1890
The Opening of a Primrose League Habitation in West London in 1890

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

In 1885 Rose was elected as one of three Executive Councillors of the Earl’s Court Primrose League Habitation (No.250). Three years later he was elected once more, this time as Executive Councillor of the Kensington Borthwick Habitation (No.1055). And in 1897-8, Rose was elected to the top slot, as Ruling Councillor of the South Kensington Habitation. Local Primrose League activities took the form of smoking concerts, communal entertainments, formal banquets with guest speakers, perhaps occasional joint Habitation outings to venues such as the London Crystal Palace. As a Primrose League Executive & Ruling Councillor, Rose is also to be found on the platform as speaker at several local Habitation meetings during this period. These provide a fascinating insight into his own (traditionally Conservative) political views & shine a spotlight on the activities of the Primrose League at local level in West London. Rose was an equally dedicated attendee of the annual National Habitation of the Primrose League during the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, his name frequently appearing amongst the list of delegates who addressed questions to members of the League’s Presiding Council from the Meeting floor. Amongst his questions are recorded one focusing on the League’s finances and another about improving the distribution network of its newspaper, The Primrose League Gazette, through the station kiosks of Messrs W.H. Smith!

Let us take a closer look at Lot 323, an anonymous map entitled The Avenger An Allegorical War Map for 1877. It was published in the summer of that year by the famous Strand stationers & booksellers, G. W. Bacon & Co:

The Avenger – An Allegorical War Map for 1877 

© Courtesy of Dreweatts Bloomsbury

The Avenger adopts a distinctly pro-Russian take on the Eastern Question and Russo-Turkish War.

Gladstone’s sensational & deeply provocative pamphlet, “The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East” first published in September 1876, had sold in the hundreds of thousands and set alight the British political debate over the “Eastern Question”, highlighting the plight of Bosnian & Bulgarian Slavs who has risen in insurrection against Turkish rule in the Balkans in 1875. The insurrection had reportedly cost as many as 15000 lives, many of these victims of the infamous Turkish irregular soldiers, the bashibazouks. Gladstone promulgated the removal of all Turkish control & authority, “bag and baggage”, from those areas of the Balkans where the political independence of the native Bulgarians and Slavs should henceforward be allowed to flourish and develop. And this under the ever-watchful eye of their long-standing Orthodox Christian & pan-Slavic protector, the Russian Tsar.

The Avenger - an Allegorical War Map for 1877 - detail
Detail: The Avenger – An Allegorical War Map for 1877      

© Courtesy of the British Library

In the Avenger map itself, the reformist & progressive Russian Tsar, his features clearly those of Alexander II [1818-1881], a large medallion around his neck commemorating the end of Russian serfdom in 1861, points the tip of a rapier into the midriff of the prostrate figure of the Turkish Sultan, the “Sick man of Europe”, its steely blade inscribed with the words “Protection of the oppressed”. The Sultan’s own scimitar blade, by contrast, swinging idly from his right hip, is inscribed with the words “Bulgarian atrocities”, adjacent skulls and the impaled corpse of a naked child labelled “Bulgarian” adding further clout to the propagandist message, one made ever more explicit in the accompanying reference key:

Detail - The Avenger - an Allegorical War Map for 1877 - key re Russia

At least two versions or states of the map exist, the earlier state having an exclusively English explanatory key in the lower left corner, a revised edition/state (the Dreweatt example) adding a German translation of that English key in the upper right of the map, suggesting a wider European distribution.

In complete contrast, the Tory position on the “Eastern Question” was that Turkey should be supported, almost of necessity, as a geopolitical counterweight to the expansionist power of Russia, not least as a means of safeguarding British access to the recently constructed Suez Canal, a communications lifeline to British Imperial India. Turkish power and influence was also seen as a potential buffer against Russian threats in Persia, Central Asia and along the Indian Raj’s northern frontiers.

Fred W Rose - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 - by F.W.R
Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 by F.W.R.

      ©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

It was this view that found expression in Fred Rose’s own Serio-comic Octopus map, which was first published in June 1877 and itself evolved through several different states, versions & editions in the ensuing weeks and months.

Fred W Rose - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 by F W R (detail - Reference)
Reference key to Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 by F.W.R.         

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Rose’s authorship was initially hidden behind his initials (F.W.R).

The map’s publication was first announced in the national press in the York Herald of June 7th 1877, as follows:

A very curious and clever war map is just now the rage of the print sellers’ shops in London. Russia is represented as an octopus, extending its arms in every direction, and laying hold of all that is capable of annexation. The different countries are represented by human and other figures. Their geographical outline at the same time being strictly preserved. Thus Turkey is indicated by a full-dressed Oriental, the Dardanelles being described by the belt of a white shirt protruding between the tunik and what – as the Turk is “unspeakeable” – I may with apposition call the “unmentionables”. One arm of the octopus has laid hold of the foot of the figure representing Turkey in Europe, and another the head as representing Turkey in Asia. Austria is holding back Hungary, who, dagger in hand, is anxious to follow after Turkey; Greece is a crab, hanging on to the skirts of the Ottoman; Italy is a girl rinking, with a dangling Pope as a puppet; England is Mr. Gladstone with his resolutions, and a Highlander (typifying Scotland) sitting on his hat; Spain is a young King recumbent; Ireland is a Home Rule priest; and so on. The map, as I have said, is extremely ingenious, and I know that it has already passed into several editions, without a single copy going to the provinces…

An amended second edition appears to have been published less than three weeks later, revealing for the first time the full identity of the map’s author: F .W. Rose,  as announced by the York Herald on June 25th 1877.

Fred W Rose -Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 - second edition with full name (& German overlay to key)
Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877. By F.W.Rose (with German paste-over to Reference key)

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Why the secrecy & circumspection over disclosing his identity? Initially Rose may have been sensitive about  revealing his full name and his overtly Tory views to the wider public at large, especially given the growing  volatility of the domestic political situation. He may perhaps have also had concerns over his own position, moonlighting as he was, and with a day job within an ostensibly apolitical British Civil Service. He was at this point a still relatively junior clerk in the Legacy Office of the Inland Revenue at Somerset House. He need not, it seems, have worried.

In the late summer of 1877 a new & revised edition of the Octopus map was published. As well as amending several features of the map itself and widening its geographical coverage to include the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the size of the Russian Octopus also seems to grow proportionately larger and its tentacles ever more substantial, entangling and invasive. And like the Avenger map, the new edition of the map now incorporates a fully bi-lingual English-German key.

Fred W Rose - Revised Edition - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877
Revised Edition Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877. By F .W. Rose

       ©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Interestingly several examples of the earlier first two states of Rose’s Octopus map are also known with French and German language paste overs of the English key, suggestive of the fact that the map’s distribution was, even at this early stage of its publication and distribution, not confined exclusively to British consumers but quickly found a wider & equally receptive marketplace on the European Continent.

Another interesting change to the Revised Edition is the manner in which the distinctive top-hatted figure of Gladstone, umbrella in hand,  takes on the form of England and Wales in the first two states of the map:

Detail - Gladstone - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 by F.W.Rose
©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

and is then completely reworked for the Revised Edition:

Detail - not Gladstone - Revised Edition - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877 by F.W.Rose
©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Both the Avenger and Octopus maps were published soon after the final outbreak of War between Russia and Turkey in April 1877.

The inclusion of William Gladstone’s Resolutions fits precisely with the likely timing of Rose’s initial designs for the Octopus map. The Resolutions (initially five, later watered down to just two) were presented in a oratorical tour-de-force by Gladstone in a two hour long speech to the House of Commons on May 7th 1877. They re-opened the Eastern Question debate commenced with his Bulgarian Horrors pamphlet of the previous September. A reinvigorated Gladstone, much to the annoyance of many traditional Liberals and the more conciliatory mainstream Liberal leadership, again sought to censure Turkey for her recent actions in the Balkans and, in the light of those barbaric actions, to consider Turkey “to have been deemed to have lost all claim to receive either the material or the moral support of the British Crown”. Although the Resolutions were defeated in the ensuing Commons Debate, for the young Conservative M.P, Arthur Balfour, Gladstone’s speech left a deep & lasting impression: he considered it not only a triumph of physical endurance but “as a feat of parliamentary courage, parliamentary skill, parliamentary endurance and parliamentary eloquence, I believe it will always be unequalled.”

Whatever the impact of the Gladstone’s Resolutions at the time, their appearance here, inscribed on his tailcoats, provide a useful reference point for the dating of the map’s preparatory designs by Rose, given that these must clearly have taken place after Gladstone’s speech on May 7th 1877. The map’s first printed edition by Bacon is recorded in the the York Herald on June 7th, just four weeks later, so the progression from initial design to final engraving seems most likely to have taken place with some considerable speed during the course of May 1877.

However, the question as to why Gladstone’s distinctive features should have be entirely reworked between the initial and subsequent “revised” editions of the Octopus map remains a mystery, one as yet unanswered. Perhaps the presence of Gladstone’s features on the map itself – and in the representative form of England and Wales – was just too much to swallow for some Tory die-hards, including perhaps Rose too!

With commercially astute even-handedness and commendable political impartiality, both the Avenger & Octopus maps were published and marketed by G W Bacon & Co. They appeared concurrently, as this interesting article from The Hampshire Advertiser of Saturday July 28th 1877 clearly reveals:

A very clever squib has been exhibited in the London windows in the last few weeks. It represents Europe with each country in the figure of a representative inhabitant. Turkey is the picturesque turbaned Mussulman, but Russia is a gigantic octopus one of whose long arms twines around the Pole, another around the Circassian, another extends towards Khiva, whilst one is twisting itself slowly around the prostrate Turk. This is immensely popular and its meaning is well grasped by the public. Yesterday in the City, I saw a rival map, in the which the Russian is exhibited as an avenging champion, with helmet and spear, coming, I presume, to rescue the oppressed Christians. At present the spear seems quite as likely to penetrate the oppressed as the oppressors…

By mid-September, The Graphic magazine had opened a public debate questioning the originality of Rose’s Octopus map design and asking if Rose owed a debt of gratitude to French artist Paul Hadol [1835-1875] and his earlier 1871 Carte Psychologique : 


©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Rose himself was swift to respond, as noted in the magazine’s Scraps column of October 13th 1877:

COMIC MAPS.-In reference to some recent remarks of ours on this subject, Mr F.W.Rose, of 4 Cromwell Crescent,  South Kensington, the designer of the Octopus War Map, informs us that he did not take the idea from Hadol’s French map, having never seen it.

Rose’s comments appear a little disingenuous for a man who, at time of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71, was already moonlighting as a political pamphleteer, part-time journalist and humorous black & white artist. Like many fellow civil servants of the period, he was deeply immersed in the world of London journalism & in the comic squibs and satirical print culture of the day. English language editions of Hadol’s earlier 1870 comic map – Carte drôlatique de l’Europe – had certainly appeared in London in considerable numbers in late 1870 and had been extensively copied & pirated. It seems highly unlikely that Rose would not have seen such comic maps, if not Hadol’s exact Carte Psychologique of 1871.

If it was not Paul Hadol, who or what might might have actually been the direct inspiration for Rose’s original Octopus map design?

A rare satirical work, first published in late 1876, offers a tantalising clue:

Image01 - front cover of Benajmin D-, His Little Dinner [Weldon & Co, 1876]
©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Entitled, Benjamin D- His Little Dinner and published by Weldon & Co, Wine Office Court, Fleet Street, its author was another moonlighting civil servant, a close contemporary of Rose’s, the wonderfully named Aglen Artemas Dowty or Artemas Aglen Dowty [1846-1906]. Dowty was a native of Bridgewater, Somerset where his father, Flixton Golding Dowty [1812-1875] was a well-known local bookseller and printer. Artemas’ day job was as a clerk in the Paymaster-General’s Office. His successful candidature by competitive examination for a junior clerkship there was announced in the Manchester Courier of July 6th 1867. This was the same year that Rose first joined the Legacy Office. As fellow civil service clerks in the “Class of ’67” and being men with such similar interests, albeit on opposite sides of the political divide, it seems highly likely Dowty & Rose would have known each other, or at very least known of each other.

Aglen A Dowty [1856-1906] - NPG
Aglen Artemas Dowty (“OPQ Philander-Smiff”) [1846-1906]

© Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, NPGx28107

Dowty was already an established author, journalist and playwright. He wrote a regular column for the weekly London Figaro under the pen name “OPQ Philander-Smiff”. It was a newspaper with which Rose is known to have read, indeed a full page illustration entitled Fight for Life, from its edition of August 1st 1877, depicts, against the backdrop of a Constantinople skyline, a dagger-wielding Turk battling against the all-entangling embrace of a giant Russian Octopus – an image clearly derived from Rose’s map.

Dowty’s Comic History of England [1873] and Comic History of France [1888], originally published in the Figaro, were subsequently reissued in full book form. It was, however, a series of anonymous satirical short stories that made his name. Originally published in S O Beeton’s Christmas Annuals in the early 1870’s, they included the Coming K- and The Siliad. Dowty later worked for Liberal Henry Labouchère’s magazine, Truth, producing many of their special Christmas issues.  He married Alice Reeves in London in 1884, but subsequent records suggest they did not have any children. A career civil servant, by the time of the 1901 Census, Dowty had risen to the exalted rank of First Class clerk in the Paymaster General’s Office and the couple now resided at Reigate in leafy Surrey. Dowty died at “Hatchgate”, Horley, Surrey on 18th July 1906 and was interred in the local churchyard of St.Bartholomew’s on July 21st. He left effects valued at nearly £5000 with probate being granted in London on September 4th 1906.

Benjamin D- His Little Dinner, first appeared as Weldon & Co’s Christmas Annual in November of 1876. Its premise was the writer’s imaginary gate-crashing of a summer dinner party held by Disraeli for an assortment of political allies & opponents at his Buckinghamshire country residence, Hughenden Manor. As well as Disraeli himself, the cast of richly satirized characters includes Foreign Secretary, Lord Derby (Dord Lerby), William Gladstone (Sweet William), George Ward Hunt (Hard Hunt) (First Lord of the Admiralty), Sir William Harcourt (Sir Verdant Hardcoat), Robert Lowe (Lob Rowe), Sir Richard Cross (Home Secretary), John Bright, Sir Stafford Northcote (Chancellor of the Exchequer), Sir Wilfrid Lawson (Sir Wellfried Lawson), and George Goschen.

The evening dinner party scenario provides the platform for a series of discursive comic poems, humorous stories, lively discussions & informal asides, most relating to the  political situation in Europe and focusing principally the thorny issue of the “Eastern Question”. By Page 38, the Foreign Secretary, Lord Derby (Dord Lerby), outlines the danger of Russian advances in Asia, especially towards Imperial India, noting that:

Russia is a political octopus. Her limbs are stretched out in every direction both in Europe and Asia, and she is slowly but surely dragging to their doom not only Servia, Montenegro, Bosnia, the Herzogovina, and Bulgaria, but quite as certainly Khiva, Persia and Afghanistan…

This is the charming sketch by illustrator “Whew” that accompanies the quote, depicting a Russian octopus, in the guise of the Tsar, his tentacles reaching out across a map of Eastern Europe & Central Asia, just as Lord Derby (Dord Lerby) describes:

Image 02 - Benajmin D - the Russian octopus - page 38
©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

It is my strong belief that Rose almost certainly acquired a copy of Benjamin D- His Little Dinner,  and that this simple octopus sketch provided the direct spark of inspiration for his subsequent design of the Octopus War map, published just a few months later in the early summer of 1877.

Print depicting the new offices of the Inland Revenue at Somerset House in 1861
Rose’s workplace: West facade & new offices of the Inland Revenue at Somerset House in 1861

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Indeed, one can well imagine the 27-year old Fred Rose, in the warm summer days of 1877, taking a break from his clerk’s job at the Legacy Office in Somerset House, emerging into the sunshine for a lunchtime stroll along The Strand. After dodging innumerable hansom cabs at the juncture with Waterloo Bridge, he would then have had to take just a few paces along the crowded pavements to reach the well-known premises of map sellers, G W Bacon & Co, at No.127 The Strand.

The 1897 letterhead of G W Bacon & Co
The 1890’s letterhead of G W Bacon & Co Ltd – Geographical Publishers

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

And there amid the chattering throngs who frequently gathered outside, he might perhaps have loitered for a while, listening to the comments of fascinated onlookers, as he proudly admired his very own Octopus Map on prominent display in the shop’s windows, most probably alongside its pro-Russian Avenger counterpart. Perhaps he might even have ventured inside, to exchange warm greetings with Mr. George Washington Bacon himself, and maybe, to inquire of Mr. Bacon whether he might perhaps be interested in publishing another similar map in the very near future….

Such was indeed to be the case, with Rose’s next satirical map design published by Bacon early the following year: England on Guard – A Serio-Comic Map for 1878. This exceedingly rare production very likely appeared in late January or early February 1878, following the resignation of two key Tory Cabinet ministers – Lords Derby & Carnarvon – in the face of Disraeli’s increasingly warlike posturing towards Russia.

Note the figure of Gladstone in the lower image, William the Woodman – widely ridiculed for his almost obsessive love of tree-felling – taking an axe to the flagstaff labelled British Honour:

1878_England on Guard _ A Serio-Comic Map for 1878
England on Guard A Serio-Comic Map for 1878. By F.W .Rose

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

However, in an era where international copyright was virtually unenforceable, one of the most remarkable aspects of Rose’s 1877 Octopus map was its subsequent global reach and impact due to a succession of foreign language copies and pirated editions that, in the ensuing months, were published & marketed throughout Europe & around the World. It is strange indeed that the anonymous Avenger map design seems not to have captured the collective imagination in the same way as the Octopus map and appears to have been entirely overlooked by copyists abroad.

To begin, we have a scarce Danish edition, Komisk Kort over Europa 1877, printed & published in Copenhagen by Emil Olsens Forlag:

Komisk Kort over Europa 1877 (Danish edition of Fred Rose Octopus map)
© Courtesy of The Royal Library / National Library of Denmark (Det Kgl. Bibliotek)

An equally scarce Swedish edition, Komisk Krigskarta för år 1877 :

After Fred Rose - (Swedish edition) - Komisk Krigskarta for ar 1877
© Courtesy of Goraan Baarnhielm / National Library of Sweden (Kungliga Biblioteket)

A Dutch edition, Humoristische Oorlogskaart, lithographed on stone by V L. van Leer & Co and published in Haarlem by J J van Brederode for a price of 25 centimes:

After Fred Rose -Humoristische Oorlogskaart - J J Van Brederode Haarlem 1877
© Courtesy of University of Amsterdam Archives

A Portuguese edition, A Europa em 1877 Mappa Burlesco da Guerra por Abdul-Azis, printed by Lith. Palhares and  published by Livraria Ferreira in Lisbon. The map was advertised in Lisbon’s Diario Illustrado of 27th June 1877, only three weeks after the announcements of the first publication of Rose’s English edition in London:

Diario Illustrado - Lisboa - No 1581- 27061877 - page 4 - advert for Octopus map
© Courtesy of the National Library of Portugal
A Europa em 1877 - Mappa Burlesca da Guerra por Abdul Aziz (Portuguese edition of Octopus map)
©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

Interestingly the map was extensively marketed by booksellers in Brasil, who imported copies directly from Lisbon. Announcements regarding the map appear in local newspapers in both Pernambuco and Bahia in late July & early August 1877. They included the following example, displayed prominently  in the Correio da Bahia of August 30th 1877:

Correio da Bahia - 30th August 1877 - Page 3 - Advert for Octopus map

A Spanish edition, Mapa Serio-Jocoso del Pulpo de Oriente de 1877, published by Tomas Estrella in Madrid:

T Estrella (Madrid) Mapa Serio-Jocoso 1877 (Spanish copy of Fred Rose map)
© Courtesy of Jonathan Potter Ltd [Catalogue 25, 2005]

An American edition, Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877, another direct copy of Rose’s map, lithographed by A Waldstein, was published as a Supplement to the San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser. It’s forthcoming publication was first announced in Vol 27, Issue No.27 of the newspaper, on Saturday, July 28th 1877:

Serio-Comic War Map.—With our next issue will appear a beautiful map, in six colors, humorously illustrating the present condition of Europe. The attitude of the different powers is admirably conveyed by the artist, and while the outlines of the different countries are admirably preserved and excellently delineated, the satire of the whole is at once visible to the most ordinary mind. Together with the News Letter, the price will be twenty cents. Without this map, the cost of the New Letter will be, as usual, ten cents.

After Fred Rose - San Francisco Newsletter - Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877
© Courtesy of the Library of Congress

There followed, in early 1878, further derivatives of Rose’s Octopus Map published with both Italian and French text, entitled La Piovra Russa and La Pieuvre Russe. The two maps appeared in respective April editions of Bologna publisher Augusto Grossi’s increasingly popular satirical magazines, Il Papagallo and its French language stable-mate, Le Perroquet.

La Piovra Russa - Papagallo - 1878- detail
Detail: La Piovra Russa – Carta Serio-Comica pel 1878 – Papagallo No.15 Anno VI [April 14 1878]

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

And, perhaps most curiously of all, an exceptionally rare Farsi edition, clearly copied & transcribed from one of the above Grossi publications, for the domestic Persian market. The Persian Shah, Naser al-Din Shah Qajar was a frequent visitor to Europe and was caricatured both by Grossi’s in Il Papagallo in early August 1873:

Lo Sciah - Papagallo - 03-08-1873
Lo SciahPapagallo No.31 Anno 1 [3rd August 1873]

and by Leslie Ward (“Spy”) in London’s Vanity Fair during a royal visit to Great Britain just a few weeks earlier:

Nasser-El-Din-Shah-Qajar - caricature by Spy for Vanity Fair - July 1873
Spy – H I M The Shah of Persia  

Vanity Fair – July 5th 1873

The Shah is also known to have been in Paris in 1877-8 and would have been intensely aware of the map’s significant propaganda value, given the rising level of Russian encroachment upon Persian territory during this period, as indeed depicted in the map itself:

Persian edition of Fred Rose Octopus Map - mid 1878
© Courtesy of Geographicus Maps

By late February 1878, the Russo-Turkish War was reaching its end game, with Russian troops now advancing rapidly towards the Turkish capital, Constantinople. Through international mediation, a provisional treaty of peace was negotiated between the two powers at the town of San Stefano, on the Bosporus, on March 3rd 1878. Its main provision, an autonomous Principality of Bulgaria in the Balkans, was in fact never fully implemented. The terms of the Treaty of San Stefano were eventually supplanted by the revised terms of the international Treaty of Berlin, orchestrated by Bismarck & Disraeli, four months later, in July 1878.

Russian Imperial Guard enter San Stefano - ILN - March 1878
Entry of the Russian Imperial Guard into San Stefano – Illustrated London News – March 1878

©2016 Barron Maps – Roderick M Barron

It is interesting that at this very point, contemporary art and politics converge in a most remarkable & startling manner, a French copy of Rose’s Octopus War map becoming the focal point of attention for the victorious Russian troops recently arrived in San Stefano, as noted by the special correspondent of the London Daily News in an article published on March 22nd 1878:

Now that they are victors, acknowledged and received, the good humour of the Russians is boundless and nothing seems to ruffle their equanimity. I noticed many officers in the camp yesterday laughing immoderately over a comic war-map which came out in England last year. Far from being offended at the uncomplimentary caricature of Russia as an octopus, they seemed to have an infinite relish for the joke, and bought copies of the map, translated into French as far as names and explanations went, until the stock was exhausted, paying a franc for a copy…

Astute political observer that he was, Rose would certainly have been aware of the widespread popularity & impact of his Octopus War map both at home and overseas. Equally he must have rued the relatively modest amount that he himself received in payment for its original design and publication and the lack of power that he & publishers G.W.Bacon had to enforce any form of international copyright protection, to prevent the original map’s extensive copying and pirating overseas.

It is recorded that Rose was paid (presumably by Bacon) just £5 for the first edition of the Octopus Map and an additional £3 or £4 for the various subsequent editions of 1877.

By way of comparison, this, it transpires, is almost the exact same amount (£9) as “jingo” War Song impresario, George Macdermott,  was receiving for a single week’s run of performances at the Cambridge Musical Hall at the height of his fame & popularity in 1877-78.

Now nearly 140 years later, Rose’s Russian octopus has continued to inspire successive generations of graphic artists, satirists and propagandists through innumerable wars and countless geopolitical stand-offs & flashpoints – right through to the modern-day Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

The Serio-Comic Octopus War map has provided a visual inspiration and legacy that has returned a far richer and much longer lasting reward for both art & posterity than Rose himself could ever have imagined when pocketing that seemingly modest £8 or £9 from George Washington Bacon in 1877.