An Old Vintage Atlas (Review)

My friend, Jorge likes to pigeonhole people according to their interests. This is not done out of a need to stereotype folks, he just likes to categorize people so he can keep up with their hobbies and professions.  Most of Jorge’s friends fall into more than one pigeonhole.

He told me that, among other things, I’m a cartophile. I looked up the definition and found out that a cartophile is a person who loves maps, cigarette cards, trading cards, and post cards.  Jorge was spot on regarding my love of maps, but the rest of the definition doesn’t really fit. I do think old post cards are somewhat interesting, but not nearly as much as old maps.

This discussion came up last week, when Jorge and I spent time browsing through one of my Christmas gifts from December, a Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide. This large and heavy atlas is the 1942 printing of an edition published in 1939.  It’s a reference item one would expect to find in a library, not to be loaned out. To use this book, the reader must place it flat on a table.


Among the first pages Jorge turned to were the sections about Nebraska then Colorado because these are our home states. In fact, most of the atlas is devoted to material about the, then, 48 states of the US.


Due to the fact that this atlas was published in 1942, we simply had to look at the world maps and the nations that were engaged in World War Two.  There are only a few international pages, located at the end of the book, but they are the most fascinating maps, by far.


The first of those pages we reached were about East Asia. The double page spread was dominated by the Soviet Union and China. We noticed that the Japanese occupied portion, Manchukuo was presented in a matter-of-fact way. The remainder of the nations and their borders are shown pretty much the same as they are today.  Of course, the USSR is now the Russian Federation.


Next we investigated the European maps. By the time these maps were drawn, The Anschluss of Austria by Nazi Germany had already happened.  The map showed no delinations for Austria.  Czechoslovakia was no longer shown and there was a broken-line border between Slovakia and Germany. Jorge and I spent considerable time analyzing and discussing this map, in particular.


Jorge wanted to investigate one more area before he had to leave for home.  California was on both of our minds because we both have friends and family who live there. We spent about half-an-hour checking out the maps and charts regarding that state.  Because the book is a commercial atlas, each state’s pages include charts and lists regarding commercial and retail data. Most of those were compiled in 1939, so the data were already outdated at the time this atlas was published.P1180628

We both agree that perusing a book such as the Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide is a special joy. The ability to enjoy the tactile pleasure of turning the actual paper pages of an old reference book is one of the best features.  Because the atlas is so huge, it won’t be stashed into a hidden corner to be forgotten.  The book will be available for many study sessions in the future.

If you enjoy old maps, the maps on this page can be magnified by whatever technique you normally use for online jpg. images.

{ Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide: Seventy-Third Edition, 1942; engraved, printed, and published by Rand McNally Company of New York, Chicago, San Francisco. 545 pages, no ISBN. }

moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Thor Heyerdahl.  “A civilized nation can have no enemies, and one cannot draw a line across a map, a line that doesn’t even exist in nature and say that the ugly enemy lives on the one side, and good friends live on the other.”


About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in art, Books, cultural highlights, History, Hobbies, Politics, Vintage Collectables and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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