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Reg Manning’s Table-Top Argu-Map of the World

  • Author: MANNING, Reg
  • Publisher: Goldwaters, Phoenix (Makers & Distributors)
  • Date: 1941
  • Dimensions: Cloth: 125 x 117 cms / Map: 105.5 x 97 cms


Comic “Argu-Map” tablecloth map [1941] designed by Arizona cartoonist Reg Manning just prior to America’s entry into World War Two

About this piece:

Reg Manning’s Table-Top Argu-Map of the World

White sailcloth tablecloth printed with maroon-coloured “orange peel” polar projection map. In excellent clean condition with only a couple of very faint minor stains and marginal soil marks.

This splendid comic table-top map originally formed part of a complete set of tablecloth and napkins designed by the well-known American artist and newspaper cartoonist, Reg Manning [1905-1986].

Missouri-born Manning is best known for his regular cartoon strip in the Phoenix newspaper, The Arizona Republic, where he began working as a young freelancer in 1926. His cartoons for the Arizona Republic were extensively syndicated across some 170 American newspapers in the ensuing decades, As a result his work became immensely popular with US readers across the country. In the late 1930’s he illustrated a series of comic books highlighting the regional humour & plant life of the American South West, indeed his own distinctive signature famously took the form of an anthropomorphized bulbous cactus. During World War II he produced numerous propaganda cartoons and in the post-war era again came to prominence for his 1951 Pullitzer award-winning cartoon “Hats” – a hard-hitting commentary on US involvement in the Korean War.

This remarkable tablecloth map was first advertised in The New Yorker of November 15th 1941 and two weeks later in the Desert Magazine of December 1st 1941, just 7 days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, which precipitated the United States’ entry into World War Two.

The advertisement features a wonderful Manning vignette depicting a “knife & fork general” and “after-dinner admiral” seated across the dinner table from one another in heated debate over the tablecloth map spread out in front of them. The text reads as follows:

For “knife & fork Generals” and “after-dinner Admirals”, the whole wild world on a new Hilarious Luncheon Cloth.

Here’s a luncheon set designed for today’s favorite sport of arguing the war. Created by Reg Manning, internationally famous cartoonist, the Table-Top “Argu-Map” of the World is reproduced in choice of three colours on white sailcloth (52″ square).

Oceans and rivers…continents and countries…latitudes and longitudes…the whole tempestuous wartime globe…peeled, flattened out, decorated with side-splitting sketches of the world’s prominent figures and studded with staggering but accurate facts.

Packed in Miniature Barracks Bag – Ideal Gift

Complete set including cloth, 4 matching timely illustrated napkins and instructions on “How to Start Warguments” $3.50. Specify choice of brown, blue or wine red. Send check or money order (no cash please) or order C.O.D. We’ll enclose gift cards for you.

GOLDWATERS – Dept.MS – Phoenix, Arizona

As Manning clarifies, the map is laid out in 4 globe gore segments on a flattened north polar “orange-peel” projection. Comic pairs of vignettes depict on each side: Uncle Sam & a Latin American; John Bull & Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin & a Turk and a Chinese man and the Japanese Emperor Hirohito, who march in purposeful circular procession around the periphery of the map. Fascinating “argu-facts” detail the respective weights, speeds, costs and manpower of assorted US naval ships and submarines. A German submarine manned by Hitler is shown surfacing in the North Atlantic.

Particular admonishment is given for poor table manners, such as “Don’t try to argue with your mouth full. Who do you think you are? Hitler?” & several other reprimands in similar vein.

With tragic irony in the light of the events that followed shortly afterwards, the Hawaiian islands are prominently marked with flying distances indicated from San Francisco, the Aleutians, Samoa, and Midway & Wake Islands.

Further comic quips and comments abound across the map, and, perhaps with a nod to MacDonald Gill’s 1927 Highways of Empire poster, a pair of penguins at the South Pole sum up proceedings with the wry comment, one to the other: “Buddy, we don’t know how lucky we are!”

Offered here is only the main “Argu-Map” tablecloth, sadly without the accompanying napkins or instructions described in the advertisement. Examples of Manning’s “Argu-Map” tablecloth and the complete tablecloth sets are increasingly scarce and infrequently offered on the market.

In all Manning offers a fascinating snapshot of US domestic life in late 1941 and the preoccupations of American families as neutral observers, arguing & discussing the unfolding events of the War around the home dining table. It was a War that all too soon would touch so many of those same American families & affect them far more closely & deeply than Manning & his remarkable table-top “Argu-map” could ever have imagined or conceived at the time.