Allegorical map of “ The Way of Good and Evil ”

John Hailer, THE WAY OF GOOD & EVIL. Bath, Pennsylvania: John Hailer, 1862.
Circular lithograph with appliqued floral die cuts at corners, 13 ½” diameter plus margins.

A rare allegorical map for children, illustrating divergent paths on The Way of Good and Evil and their very different long-term consequences. Decorative touches have been added by an early owner, consisting of floral die cuts affixed to the edges of the image, lending an amusing tone to an otherwise somber piece.

Consisting of two alternative paths laid out within a circle, the map depicts life’s journey beginning at a school house on the lower left, the path from its doorway soon splitting in two. Those turning to their left toward the Way of Good begin with a foundation of “obedience to parents and teachers [:] truth [:] wisdom”) and pass through “the House of God,” which dominates the center of the image. As they mature, if they hope to achieve “eternal life” they must commit to a path of “industry,” “health,” “avoiding evil,” “righteousness,” “pure of heart,” “faith in Christ,” and “humility.” Along the way some may choose “the college”—shown proudly flying the Stars and Stripes–before returning to the path.

By contrast, those turning to their left on to The Way of Evil develop bad habits through “Disobedience to Parents and Teachers.” As they enter and pass through adulthood they become subject to a laundry list of sins and misfortunes, among them “disease,” “shame,” “lusting,” “ignorance,” gameing,” “intemperance,” “fighting” (represented by a street brawl), “dueling,” and even “the gallows,” to name just a few. Depicted along the way are a “House of Sin,” a rum house, and the “States Prison,” where a criminal hangs from a gallows. The Way of Evil leads eventually to “everlasting punishment” and “destruction” in Hell, where eternal fire rages and a demon awaits, pitchfork in hand.

While the original prototypes for “Paths to Heaven and Hell” maps were printed in Europe, a version was published in Baltimore circa 1795, likely by Samuel Saur. The genre was popularized in America, however, by two German printers in Pennsylvania, Gustav S. Peters of Harrisburg and Herman William Villee in Lancaster (An example of the latter’s work may be viewed here.) It is to this more local tradition that The Way of Good and Evil most immediately belongs. However, while similar in concept, it is markedly different in its circular composition, a format apparently unique to Hailer. It is also extraordinarily rare. OCLC records only an impression at the Library of Congress, and I know of another at the Bath (Pennsylvania) Museum and one in private hands, purchased from this firm in 2015.

A vivid and very rare allegorical map designed for the moral instruction for children.

As of November 2017 OCLC records but a single holding, at the Library of Congress. For background see Russell and Corinne Earnest, Flying Leaves and One-Sheets: Pennsylvania German Broadsides, Fraktur and Their Printers (New Castle, Delaware, 2005), pp. 252-9, illustrating earlier “Paths to Heaven and Hell” maps (though not Hailer’s) with comments on the genre.


Toning along sides, light stains associated with glue used to affix die cuts. Faint pencil border running around and in one place through the map, presumably drawn by an overzealous framer.