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Alerte! Les Chiens Aboient!

  • Author: after JOHNSON RIDDLE & Co, London
  • Publisher: Libraire Payot, Paris / (G W Bacon & Co, London (editors))
  • Engraver: Johnson Riddle & Co, London
  • Date: c1915
  • Dimensions: sheet: 75 x 54.5 cms


Extremely rare 1915 French language edition of Johnson Riddle’s late 1914 satirical canine-themed map of the European War

About this piece:

Alerte! Les Chiens Aboient! Traduit de L’Anglais de Walter Emanuel.

Separately published lithographically printed folding broadsheet map. Now lacking its original paper wrappers. Printed colours with some recent invisible retouching of small areas of the printed surface, particularly along lines of old folds. Old folds splits and separations, some within image, now expertly & invisibly closed and reinforced on verso. Very slight unevenness & crinkling to paper surface affecting southern British Isles & adjacent waters of North Sea. The sheet now flattened and entirely backed & reinforced to verso with museum-quality archivist tissue. With all a very attractive & presentable example.

An extremely uncommon and rarely-seen French language edition of this striking & engaging canine-themed satirical map describing the unfolding events in Western Europe following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.

Les chiens de guerre sont lâchés par tout l’Europe, et ecoutez le joli tapage qu’ils font! [ “The Dogs of War are loose in Europe and a nice noise they are making…” ] so begins Punch columnist and dog-lover Walter Emanuel’s accompanying description.

The relatively loose French translation indulges numerous clever puns and double-entendres [On l’appelle l’ Autrichien parce que aucun autre chien veut de lui…Le basset commença en se ruant  sur le Griffon belge, mais ce dernier malgré l’inattendu de l’attaque, ne cédant jamais, montre toujours ses dents.] 

The original English edition (from which this French version has been copied) was first published in late November 1914, for London’s well-known Strand map & booksellers, G. W. Bacon & Co. Designed & printed in Southwark by London commercial printers, Johnson Riddle & Co, the map was widely distributed to booksellers across Britain & Continental Europe.

Announced in the contemporary press as “The Popular War Cartoon”, it was initially offered for sale for a price of 1 shilling, “being beautifully printed in colour on paper 30 x 22 inches and… supplied flat or folded in paper cover.”  It appears to have been specifically targeted at the Christmas gift market for December 1914. Contemporary commentators suggested its design and imagery would have a particularly wide appeal amongst young children. The identity of the map’s original artist /designer sadly remains unknown.

As Emanuel highlights, Germany is the Dachshund, “mated for better or worse” to an Austrian mongrel. Belgium is a game little griffon, France, “a smart dandified” poodle and Britain, the ever watchful bulldog, sleeping with one eye open, and with a ferocious bite and a habit of never letting go, in this case, of the Dachshund’s nose.  In the East, the Tsar sits at the wheel of a speedily advancing Russian steamroller, crushing all in its path.

By November 1914, the realities of the military situation on the ground were in fact very different, with most of Belgium by now under German occupation & the Russian steamroller stalled by disastrous reverses on the Eastern Front, at the Battles of Tannenburg & the Masurian Lakes (Aug-Sept 1914).

It is interesting to note the publication of a German version of Emanuel’s map, fully reproduced by the firm of Walter Nölting of Hamburg in early 1915. The objective of this curious piece of counter-propaganda appears to have been to highlight the perceived perfidy and self-interest of Great Britain in her war aims, not least in relation to her Continental Allies.

Walter Lewis Emanuel [1869 – 1915], a Jewish solicitor, was also an immensely popular figure in British literary circles of the time: the author of the weekly Charivaria column for the satirical Magazine Punch, he had also experienced great literary success with a series of charming anthropomorphic dog books, beautifully illustrated by fellow artist, Cecil Aldin [1870-1935]. Included amongst these was the appropriately entitled Dogs of War (wherein the hero-worshipper portrays the hero and incidentally gives an account of the greatest dogs’ club in the World), first published by Bradbury, Agnew & Co in London in 1906. He was also well-known on the after-dinner speech circuit in pre-war London, taking delight in lampooning prominent political, military and society figures of the day in imagined apologies that they might have given for their absences from these events – the German Kaiser in particular being an increasingly frequent target!

Walter’s brother was well-known artist, Frank Lewis Emanuel (1865-1948), a connection which most likely brought him into contact with the aspiring Jewish artist, John Henry Amschewitz [1882-1942]. Emanuel subsequently became one of Amschewitz’s first patrons, buying several of his early paintings. Indeed it may indeed have been this connection which led to the production of Amschewitz’s own satirical war map, European Revue. Kill That Eagle, a clear companion piece to Hark! Hark! The Dogs do Bark! that was first published only a few weeks after Emanuel’s map, in December 1914.

Interestingly in his Charivaria column in Punch magazine of Dec 2nd 1914, Emanuel would note that:

The Russians having objected to being called a steamroller, the London and North West Railway have tactfully taken their fast engine “Teutonic” and re-christened her “The Tsar”!

Johnson Riddle & Co. would become much-used commercial printers during the wartime period, most notably in the designing & printing of posters for the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee between late 1914 and early 1916. One of the most famous of these recruitment posters [PRC 79] was published in early 1915. Entitled “Daddy, What did YOU do in the Great War?” it was the work of Johnson Riddle’s own in-house artist and illustrator, Savile Lumley [1876 – 1949], and was based on an idea of one of the managing directors of Johnson Riddle, Arthur L. Gunn [1875 – 1937], who subsequently enlisted within a few days of its conception & design. In the poster, a father looks out pensively from the comforts of his armchair in a post-war British living room. His young son plays with an army of toy soldiers at his feet, whilst his young daughter, seated upon his knee, book in hand, poses this potentially awkward & uncomfortable question, asked of so many eligible men in this early wartime period of voluntary enlistment. Johnson Riddle & Co.’s Printing Works in 1914 were located at No. 32 Southwark Bridge Road. The premises, known as the Sumner Street Works, took their name from the adjacent Sumner Street. Johnson Riddle also produced numerous posters for the London Underground. They remained in commercial poster printing through several name changes until they finally closed their doors in the 1970’s.

In addition to this map, Emanuel’s own comic & patriotic contribution to the war effort included not only his weekly Charivaria column in Punch, but also a wonderful book of satirical propagandist humour, illustrated with amusing cartoons by popular comic artist, John Hassall [1868 – 1948], perhaps best-known for his now famous 1908 G.N.R. poster design, “Skegness is so bracing”. Entitled Keep Smiling, More News by Liarless for German Homes, Emanuel & Hasall’s book was also first published in November 1914.

Walter Emanuel’s rich contribution to early 20th Century literature and satire was brought to an abrupt end by his untimely & tragically premature death, aged only 46, on 4th August 1915. By a strange twist, this was also the exact first anniversary of England’s Declaration of War. His grave is to be found in Willesden Jewish Cemetery.

As noted, the original English edition of the map does appear to have been widely distributed in Continental Europe in 1914-15, particularly to neutral countries such as Switzerland. Whilst many of these original English editions were undoubtedly sold in France, this new French language edition appears to have been specifically prepared the French market by the Parisian booksellers, Libraire Payot & Cie, 46 rue St.André des Arts, presumably in early 1915.

The link with neutral Switzerland is illuminating, as the Libraire Payot, Lausanne booksellers established in 1875 (and still in existence today), appear to have established a Paris branch at the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, presumably eager to exploit the commercial opportunities of wartime Paris and the potential sale of war-related publications, such as this now surprisingly rare and uncommon French edition of Johnson Riddle’s strikingly designed satirical map.