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The Story Map of Scotland

  • Publisher: Colortext Publications Inc, Chicago
  • Date: 1935
  • Dimensions: sheet: 43.5 x 34 cms


Story Map of Scotland [1935]: One of a series of decorative “Story Maps” published in the late 1930s by Chicago firm Colortext

About this piece:

The Story Map of Scotland

Separately published colour process map. Wide margins. One small edge nick in right side margin and diagonal soft crease across lower right corner in blank margin. Some localized toning & paper discolouration at upper sheet edge on verso, not showing through on recto. 

Attractive and highly decorative pictorial map of Scotland, the first of two slightly different map designs published by Chicago publishers, Colortext in 1935-36. This map was first registered for copyright on October 4th 1935, though it bears the date 1935-36 in the lower left margin.

The map itself offers a visual summary of Scottish history, literature & culture since the time of the Romans & Vikings, abounding with innumerable small pictorial vignettes. Amongst the assortment of wild animals and kilted figures, appear portraits of notable historical & literary figures such as Mary Queen of Scots, Flora Macdonald, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert Burns & James Hogg, the so-called Ettrick Shepherd.

The whole map is framed by an equally colourful & decorative border with rectangular swatches representing sixty two of the principal tartans of Scotland. The design is completed by an elaborate title cartouche upper right and the coat of arms of the Stewarts, the Royal house of Scotland, lower left.

Little is known of the origins of the Chicago publishers Colortext, though they evidently sprung to prominence during the 1933-4 Chicago World’s Fair, when they published a series of 12 educational booklets for children for the so-called Century of Progress Wonder Library [c1933].

Their address for these publications is given as 620 N.Michigan Ave, though according to Bob Karrow (quoted in Elizabeth Burdon & Clive Clinton’s article on Colortext) between 1934 & 1935 the Company is also listed at 8 South Michigan Drive (the Willoughby Bldg.) and between 1936 & the early 1940s at 20 N. Wacker Drive (the Civic Opera Bldg.).

It was in 1935 that Colortext first began publishing their series of “Story Maps”, all of which followed a similar design template to this Scotland map and were ostensibly designed as engaging visual aids for schooling & education.

The series began with a map of England, designed by Egbert Gulderstein Jacobson [1890-1966], who had illustrated two of the earlier Wonder Library booklets. Jacobson was a graduate of the Art Student’s League of New York and well-known advocate of modernism in art, advertising & graphic design. During his career he would work with several major US advertising agencies.

Three of the succeeding Story Maps – Germany, Italy, and Switzerland – published in 1935 & 1936 were the work of the well-known Massachusetts-based pictorial mapmaker, Ernest Dudley Chase [1878-1966], who was just at the beginning of his cartographic career. The Story Map of Spain [1935] was designed by Spanish-born graphic artist & illustrator, Julio de Diego [1900-1977], who had emigrated to the US in 1924 and subsequently settled in Chicago. Next in the series was France, copyrighted in March 1936, a highly decorative design by A H Walker and William E Vogelback [1894-1960], a prominent Chicago businessman & industrial engineer, who had also been the driving force behind the Merrie England exhibit, part of the 1934 Century of Progress Exposition at the Chicago World’s Fair. Vogelback had also authored one of the Colortext Wonder Library booklets on Magnets, which Jacobson had illustrated.

[N.B Almost all dealer descriptions reviewed and several notable cartobibliographic references, including the David Rumsey Collection, currently list Vogelback’s surname & personal details incorrectly (…another example perhaps of the detrimental effect of the now all-too-easy “cut and paste” culture that predominates ever more on the web?)]

The Merrie England exhibit, one of the largest of the whole Chicago Fair,  was designed “to truly exhibit English life”. Its numerous historical reconstructions included Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon house, the home of John Harvard, founder of the University and Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop. It was undoubtedly one of the major draws of the Fair, attracting upwards of twenty thousand people a day. According to Vogelback Merrie England offered “an atmosphere of dignity, peace, quiet & repose”, not least through regular 40 minute-long performances of most of Shakespeare’s plays in a replica of the Globe Theatre put on by Thomas Wood Stevens’ Merrie England Players. Interestingly it was a visit by the teenage Sam Wanamaker [1919-1993] with his father to one of these performances which would plant the seed of an idea that would ultimately lead to his own plans for an authentic reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames in London, a project finally completed two decades after his death, in  January 2014.

It is equally interesting to note that Vogelback’s Merrie England exhibit at the World’s Fair was the catalyst for several further Colortext publications in July 1934 – Clara E Laughlin’s So You’re Going to Merrie England was one of a special set of 15 cent illustrated monographs, which also included Thomas Wood Stevens’ Globe Theatre and Helen Bradshaw’s English Dances of Merrie England.

The last in the Story Map series were The West Indies [1936]; The United States [1939] and Mexico [1939]. These last maps were all offered for a very affordable retail price of just 50 cents.

Other Colortext maps of this period included the “Old Time” Map of Kentucky, the Bourbon State [1937], designed by little-known artist C L Hawkins for the H E Pogue Distillery Company, “Distillers of “Old Time” Kentucky Whiskey since 1876″.

Two larger-scale maps followed shortly afterwards, a striking perspective map, also by Hawkins (signed with just the initials “CLH”) depicting Chicago the Greatest Inland City in the World [1938] and an even more remarkable bird’s eye view of the European War in 1940, entitled Military Panoramap of the Theatre of War, taken from an “Observation Point 200 Miles Directly Above Bern”.

In about 1943, the Colortext company was acquired by the Chicago drug company director & public relations executive, Paul J Mandabach [1893-1985]. Mandabach’s acquisition seemingly heralded new versions of both the Mexico and United States maps (now entitled Colortext Story Maps) which appear to have been copyrighted and published in late 1943/early 1944.

As Schools Art [1944] enthused:

A Story Map of Mexico peopled with Spaniards and Indians of yesterday is brought to you by Colortext map publishers. You see gay peasants dancing the Mexican Hat Dance, missionaries, Spanish conquistadores, textile weavers, fruit peddlers and peons.  See the beautiful cities — the mountain ranges that line the coast with majestic Popocatepetl rising 1783 feet in contrast with the level inland areas. There are bright birds, fruits, strange animals — all the details that make up a nation, historical, and geographical, woven together on one map….

It may perhaps also have been a new version of The Story Map of the West Indies that was subsequently copyrighted by Mandabach in June 1950.

A full set of the Colortext Story maps with the 1940 European Panoramap was presented by Mandabach to the Library of Congress in the Summer of 1955 (Information Bulletin Vol 14, No.29 (July 1955) p.254).

Refs: David Rumsey Collection; Stephen J Hornsby: Picturing America the golden age of pictorial maps, Pl.101 (p.180) The Story Map of the West Indies, 1936; Pl.121 (p.206) “Old Time” Map of Kentucky, The Bourbon State, 1937.