This decorative map features an outline map of Australia all-but smothered in symbols highlighting its areas of agricultural, mineral and metal production. At upper right is the Australian coat of arms, featuring a shield bearing the symbol of each state, flanked left and right by a kangaroo and emu, the whole surmounted by the seven-pointed Commonwealth Star. A long note at lower right asserts that “Australia’s industrial resources have been completely reorganized to meet war-time demands…. In addition, Australia is contributing to a great wheat pool which will help to feed the starving peoples of Europe when the war is over.”
The poster was one of a series of three wartime maps by Gill, the others depicting New Zealand and Canada, distributed as propaganda to demonstrate the contribution of the Commonwealth countries to the Allied war effort. It is worth noting that, though Australia had long since achieved self governing status within the Commonwealth, the map largely reflects an imperial mindset: Aside from the note about its “industrial resources,” the country is shown primarily as a source of commodities needed for the war effort, with little attempt to depict its distinctive cultural, geographical or political characteristics.
MacDonald Gill (1884-1947)
Leslie MacDonald (“Max”) Gill was born in Brighton to a family of thirteen children, including older brother Eric, who achieved fame as a typographer. Max showed a precocious interest in and talent for art, and at age 16 went to work for a local architect, moved on to a firm in London in 1903, and started his own practice in 1909. His professional career was consistently interdisciplinary, involving work in architecture, mural design, book illustration, lettering and typography, and of course map making.
His breakthrough as a mapmaker came in 1914, when his Wonderground Map of London Town was published as a promotional piece for the London Electric Railways. This pictorial map-poster, a good-natured riot of color and imagery, was the first of many such images designed by Gill. It was also hugely influential, its vibrant style imitated by mapmakers around the world. He went on to produce dozens of printed maps in a recognizable pictorial style, covering subjects as varied as the London Transport system, member nations of the British Commonwealth, the tea trade, and the Atlantic Charter.
Gill’s continued influence is evidenced by the exhibition of his work in the British Library’s Magnificent Maps exhibition (2010), the University of Brighton’s Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill retrospective (2011), and the London Transport Museum’s Mind the Map show (2012), and the surge in popularity of his work in the antiquarian map market.
Rumsey #8564. For more on Gill’s life and work, see the MacDonald Gill website published by his grand niece Caroline M. Walker. For the influence of his Wonderground Map, see Elisabeth Burdon’s “The Cartographic Impact of MacDonald Gill’s Wonderground Map of 1913.”
Folds as issued with a couple of tiny separations (mostly visible only from the verso) and just a bit of edge wear. Better than very good.