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Bootlegger’s Map of the United States

  • Author: McCANDLISH, Edward G
  • Publisher: Griswold Press, Detroit, Michigan
  • Date: c1930
  • Dimensions: image: 86 x 54 cms / sheet: 89 x 56 cms


Edward Gerstell McCandlish’s “Bootlegger’s Map of the United States”, a fun-filled satire on Prohibition-era America, c1930

About this piece:

Bootlegger’s Map of the United States

Unusually flat example without folds. Attractive modern hand colouring. Clean closed tear at upper right side running from sheet edge almost horizontally across Rum Row and as far as the skyscrapers of Manhattan, now reinforced on verso and almost indiscernible. Overall a very attractive & well-preserved example of this increasingly scarce piece of Prohibition-era ephemera.

West Virginia-born toy maker, children’s author and newspaper cartoonist, Edward Gerstell McCandlish [1887-1946] designed this amusing anti-Prohibition map in about 1926-7, in collaboration with the Griswold Press of Detroit, whose imprint appears centrally in the lower border. At the time of its publication McCandlish was working as leading illustrator for the Detroit Free Press newspaper, though the map was reputedly modelled on an earlier cartoon which he had designed whilst working as principal cartoonist & children’s columnist with the Washington Post in the early 1920’s, and whose publication he had overseen as a double-page spread in its pages, apparently the largest cartoon to be published within the pages of the Washington Post up to that date.

Although a copyright date of 1926 is given on the various editions of this Griswold Press issue of the map, the first registration of the Bootlegger’s Map‘s copyright appears to have actually only been filed by McCandlish (then resident in Northville, Michigan) on March 10th 1930. The measurements of the map, 21 x 34 inches, per the copyright records, appear to correspond with these examples of the Bootlegger’s map as published by the Griswold Press.

During this period, the Griswold Press’s Bootlegger’s Map appears to have been widely syndicated to other US anti-prohibiton bodies, brewers and the like, who often added their own additional advertising imprints, as in the instance of this example which comes with the additional Compliments of the Val Blatz Brewing Co.  Milwaukee, Wis. 

Indeed, classified advertisements placed by the Griswold Press in 1929 & 1930 issues of US technical and business magazines reveal the money-making potential of McCandlish’s Bootlegger’s map, much of it driven by the Griswold Press’ apparent recruitment of individual commission-based sales agents across the country. The advertisements read:

MAKE BIG MONEY selling the bootlegger’s map. Fast selling comic number. Send 10c for copy and prices. GRISWOLD PRESS, 854 Howard St, Detroit, Mich.

The apparent spike in Griswold Press map sales may well have been driven by the owners of the innumerable illicit speakeasies and liquor parlours that quickly sprang up across the nation as a direct result of Prohibition. It seems the maps were displayed within these establishments for the entertainment & amusement of their hard-drinking clients. The maps also appear to have been stockpiled in large numbers, perhaps for onward sale & distribution, as  one 1932 Ohio newspaper report highlights:

A “bootlegger’s map” of the United States  with scale in souse, yeast and wets was displayed in federal court here today at the trial of Charles L. Bowers, charged with violation of the national prohibition law. A federal agent said he took the monster map from Bowers’ alleged speak-easy in Collinsville. Springfield was designated on the map by a bucket of brew, its contents flowing over the surrounding countryside. Chicago was marked “Chi-keg-go.” Illustrations showed coast guardsmen armed with shotguns patrolling inside the twelve mile limit while on the opposite side of the line were “relief ships” laden with liquors. Four hundred plans have been found… 

The Coshocton Tribune, Coshocton, Ohio, 24 March 1932 (p.14)

The map itself provides a satirical overview of the United States during the first decade of Prohibition. The title is accompanied by a bawdlerized version of the official motto of the British Royal coat of arms: Hon y soit qui mal y pints (Hon y soit qui mal y pense). The Points of the Compass become the Pints of the Compass, which are Norse, Souse, Yeast and Wets. The Scale is also given in Pints: Half Pints, Pints, Quarts & Gallons. The map finds limitless humour in alcohol-related wordplay and double-entendres on well-known place names across the country: Port-land & Bar-Harbor in Maine, Lake Champagne (Champlain), Scnec-Toddy (Schenectady) and West Pint (West Point) in New York; Brandy-Wine, Maryland;  the State of Vir-gin-ia; the city of Chi-keg-o (Chicago); The Missis-sip-i & Rye Grande (Rio Grande) Rivers, Cotton Gin, Texas; Albu-Corky (Albuquerque) New Mexico and perhaps cleverest of all, Take ‘ome a Pint (Tacomo Point, Washington State).  Pittsburgh, PA also receives attention, this the city of Heinz’s 57 varieties, noted for its strict sabbatarian & temperance legislation and once described by James Parton in 1868 as being akin to “Hell with the Lid Off”, as it is so labelled here. Reference is also made to Wyoming’s Teapot Dome butte (shaped like a tea pot), the focal point of a major national bribery scandal over petroleum oil leases in 1921-22.

Wayne B. Wheeler [1869-1927], the influential general counsel of the Anti-Saloon League and the principal driving force behind nationwide Prohibition and the passage of the 1920 Volstead Act, is also acknowledged with his birthplace pinpointed, not without some irony, as being Bubbling Brook, Ohio (actually Brookfield, Ohio). Just to the North, perhaps honouring the Michigan origins of this map, appears a vignette of what appears to be a tall corn barn (clearly harbouring an illicit still) ironically labelled Volstead (after Minnesota Congressman, Andrew J. Volstead, whose name is forever associated with the passage of national Prohibition legislation in 1919-20) a large tap on its side feeding drips of illicit liquor into an underground reservoir concealed beneath the fields below. Vignettes of country stills and illicit bootlegging activities abound, as well as other rural habits such as the smoking of corn silk (in the North Dakota Badlands). A line of smugglers carrying kegs of liquor cross the Canadian border, beside the comment, Canada Dry? A cordon of floating barrels along the Pacific and Eastern seabords mark the 12 mile limit of US domestic waters. Beyond lie numerous vessels laden with illicit liquor and euphemistically labelled Relief Ships.

A second much revised & colour-printed edition of McCandlish’s Bootlegger’s Map was published under the Bill Whiffletree trademark by the Hagstrom Company of New York in August 1944 alongside a new map, a wartime design by McCandlish entitled Bill Whiffletree’s Ration Map of the United States. In the same month New Haven Chamber of Commerce published McCandlish’s last-known map design: An Un-Convention-al Map of New Haven. McCandlish himself died two years later in December 1946 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, having served in France with the 116th Engineers during the First World War.

More information about McCandlish, his artistic career and his maps can be found on our associated Blog post

Refs: David Rumsey Collection