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De Wereld Reizen van St-Nicolaas – Oplossing van der A.V.R.O. Westrijd

  • Author: WIJGA, Jan
  • Publisher: A.V.R.O. (Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep), Amsterdam
  • Date: 1934
  • Dimensions: 18 sheets each 16.5 x 23cms, when joined, 100 x 70 cms


Dutch poster artist Jan Wijga’s rare 18-section pictorial World map, a geographical game for young radio listeners, December 1934

About this piece:

[De Wereld Reizen van St-Nicolaas – Oplossing van der A.V.R.O. Westrijd]

[The World Travels of St.Nicholas – Solution to the A.V.R.O. Competition]

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 foxing & spotting to all sheets, largely confined to verso, though somewhat more visible on recto of a couple of the left-hand sheets. In all a fine set, accompanied by an explanatory booklet & key and  accompanying contemporary Dutch newspaper notice, dated Feb 1935.

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 6-page guide to the map, dated December 1934, is written & signed by Sinterklaas himself from his supposed home in Madrid, whence he reputedly comes to visit Holland every year on December 5th. Sinterklass here provided a key to the numbered features on the map and encourages young listeners to submit their final competition entries to A.V.R.O before 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.

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