Armour and Company makes the case that meat packing matters

Lithograph printed in colors with highlights in halftone, 24 5/8”h x 38 7/8”w. Trimmed to neat line, probably as issued, with some minor separations along folds. Some mild toning, visible only on verso.

A vibrant persuasive map of the United States by meatpacking giant Armour and Company, making the case for the strategic importance of its industry.

Founded in the 1860s by Philip Danforth Amour (1832-1901), Armour and Company was a meatpacking pioneer, using refrigeration, assembly-line methods, canning and economies of scale to become the industry leader. For all its staggering success, however, the firm had a massive public-relations problem, on account of its role in the anti-competitive Beef Trust; brutal treatment of its workers, particularly when they sought to unionize; and shoddy manufacturing practices, which were exposed when it sold rotten beef to the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War and later memorialized in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

First issued in 1922, this rather spectacular map was likely an attempt by Armour to bolster its image, at a time when business was suffering due to post-War recession. The map depicts the United States in outline, with vibrantly-colored vignettes highlighting the agricultural products of each state. Indeed, it is so crammed with cows, pigs and sheep, and fields of corn, citrus and wheat, that the viewer comes away with the impression that the country’s Depression-era economy was primarily agricultural.

The map is flanked by three columns of text at lower left and at upper right a long quote signed by Robert Hervey Cabell, General Manager of the firm. These make the syllogistic argument that, because agriculture is essential to the American economy, livestock raising is essential to agricultural production, and meat packing is essential to livestock raising, meat packing is therefore essential to the American economy.

The verso contains a long, illustrated history of how the “nation’s ever-growing food problem has been met by packing industry.”

This is the second edition of a map first issued in 1922. The major points of difference appear to be the use of a new type face for the title, a variant color scheme on the map, edits to the text at lower left, and, at upper right, the substitution of the signature of T.G. Lee, elected President of Armour in 1931. I have also found later editions of the map dated 1938 (see OCLC 746767767) and 1960 (Rumsey 9013).

Hornsby, Picturing America, p. 7 (1st ed.) Rumsey #8671 (this variant, with the Lee signature). Not in Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection.