R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map

Buckminster Fuller / McCormick-Armstrong Company, Wichita, Kansas (printer), FLUID GEOGRAPHY… PRINTED BY SPECIAL PERMISSION FROM AN ARTICLE IN THE AMERICAN NEPTUNE FOR APRIL 1944. [with:] The DYMAXION Map Patented January 29, 1946. No. 2,393,676. [Wichita: Fuller Research Foundation, 1946?]
8vo. 28pp including numerous in-text illustrations and large (18 ¾”h x 23 ¾”w) folding map. Original printed wraps with pasted-on sheet of excerpted reviews on front wrap. Ink presentation inscription from Fuller inside front wrap. Edges of first leaf toned, bit of toning from adhesive to left edge of map and gutter of first few leaves. Wraps toned and a bit worn, with an amateurish but intricate geometric drawing in pencil on rear wrap.

A presentation copy of the rare reprint of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Fluid Geography,” describing his marvelous Dymaxion Map and illustrated by a large folding example thereof.

The dymaxion world view of R. Buckminster Fuller
Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was a distinctly American figure, whose lifelong commitment to identifying problems and develop interesting solutions thereto is somewhat reminiscent of Ben Franklin. Fuller’s métier was the application of innovative design to problems of housing and transportation, all with an eye toward improving the human condition by “doing more with less.” It is impossible here to recount his long, rich and varied career, but suffice it to say that his 1983 CV goes on for 72 pages and concludes with a fantastic chart, “Dymaxion Chronofile Correspondence of Buckminster Fuller Since 1895,” according to which he had sent and received more than 200,000 letters!

The term “dymaxion,” which became so closely associated with Fuller and his inventions, was coined not by Fuller himself but by a department store marketing an “easily built, air-delivered, modular apartment building” of his design.

“The word “dymaxion” was coined by store advertisers and trademarked in Fuller’s name. Based on the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “ion,” it became a part of the name of many of Fuller’s subsequent inventions. The word became synonymous with his design philosophy of “doing more with less,” a phrase he later coined to reflect his growing recognition of the accelerating global trend toward the development of more efficient technology.” (bfi.org)

Other dymaxion designs by Fuller included the three-wheeled “Dymaxion Car,” with an astonishingly tight turning radius; a prefabricated “Dymaxion Bathroom;” and “Dymaxion Deployment Units” to house small American military units in remote areas.

The Dymaxion Map and “Fluid Geography”
One of Fuller’s more interesting innovations was the “Dymaxion Map,” a cartographic projection of his own design. Mathematics in general, and map projections in particular, are a great weakness of mine, so by way of brief explanation I simply quote the web site of the Buckminster Fuller Institute:

“the Dymaxion Map… depicted the entire planet on a single flat map without visible distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the continents. The map, which can be reconfigured to put different regions at the center, was intended to help humanity better address the world’s problems by prompting people to think comprehensively about the planet.” (bfi.org)

Fuller first described the Dymaxion Map in print in the March 1, 1943 edition of Life. This was followed by a more detailed discussion in “Fluid Geography,” which appeared in The American Neptune for April 1944 (vol. IV no. 2, pp. 118-136). He also applied for a patent for the projection, which was approved in January 1946.

Offered here is a 1946 reprint in pamphlet form of “Fluid Geography,” with only minor differences from the original. The article describes the Dymaxion Map, makes the case for its utility, and is illustrated by a large example of the map itself with numerous explanatory notes. Of particular interest is the large folding “World Map on Dymaxion Projection,” also with only minor differences from that which accompanied the original article. The reprint is followed by a reprint of Fuller’s 1944 patent application, including five pages of illustrations.

The pamphlet was probably issued in 1946, while Fuller was living in Wichita, Kansas, where he had moved in 1944 to become Chairman and Chief Engineer of the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine Corporation, a venture funded by Beech Aircraft. Fuller quit the venture in 1946 due to philosophical disagreements, but remained in Wichita to establish the Fuller Research Foundation, which he chaired from 1946-54.

The inside of the front wrap bears the following inscription from Fuller to friends and neighbors in Woodstock, New York, where he owned property and twice in 1951 gave keynote addresses to the Woodstock Artist’s Association:

“To the young & beautiful Milmans – my neighbors. Because they are beautiful and not because Edie [sic?] is prone to fluidity nor yet because he is a Farouk Commodore[?]


“Bucky / Sept 1951 / Woodstock[, NY]”

It is possible that “Edie Milman” was painter and muralist Edward (Eddie) Millman (1907-1964). Born in Chicago and trained at the Art Institute, he worked as an illustrator for Chicago-area periodicals, studied for a time with Diego Rivera, served as a combat artist in the Second World War, and spent his later years in Woodstock. resident in Woodstock and running in the same circles as Fuller. Fuller owned a piece of land in Woodstock,

OCLC 36240239 and 26956783, giving 12 institutional holdings as of October 2019. Background on Fuller from “R. Buckminster Fuller, 1895-1983,” at bfi.org, and R. Buckminster Fuller, Richard Buckminster Fuller Basic Biography, March 1983 (typescript).