Striking Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad map by Robert M. Chapin

R[obert] M[acfarlane] Chapin, Jr., C AND O FOR PROGRESS. [New York, ca. 1947-1972.]
Map printed in color halftone, 12 ¾”h x 18 ½”w at neat line plus margins. Bit of discoloration in margins, folded in fourths at one time. Very good.

A rare and appealing promotional map for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad by innovative mapmaker Robert McFarlane Chapin.

The map uses a striking bird’s-eye perspective, characteristic of much of Chapin’s work, to depict the Railroad’s network in the Middle Atlantic and Midwestern States. Tiny vignettes indicate major cities, as well as the Appalachian coal mines and Detroit automotive factories that provided a huge percentage of the Railroad’s business. The title, “C AND O FOR PROGRESS”, was the Railroad’s motto, first introduced in the 1940s by visionary Chairman Robert R. Young.

Though undated, the map was issued some time between 1947, when the C&O acquired the Pere Marquette Railway of Michigan and Ontario, and 1972, when it adopted a new corporate name following a merger with the ancient Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Robert MacFarlane Chapin, Jr. (?-2002)
Chapin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1933 with a degree in architecture. Finding little demand for his training during the Depression, he took a job as a retoucher of photos at Newsweek, where he somehow learned to draw maps. In 1937 he was lured away to run the map department at Newsweek rival TIME, where he worked for the next 33 years. He and his team were extremely prolific, particularly during the Second World War, when they produced four, five and six maps per week to keep up with breaking news. After the War Chapin remained at TIME for another quarter century, during which period he produced numerous maps, including many addressing aspects of the Cold War, a titanic “us vs. them” struggle to which his bold style and liberal use of red were well suited.

Chapin is remembered today for the distinctive quality of his work as well as his prolific output. His maps have an immediately-recognizable style involving bold use of color, minimal clutter, standardized and evocative symbols (such as a vice to indicate military encirclement), and the use of distinctive projections and perspectives. This distinctive style was facilitated by a number of his own innovations:

“First, Chapin used an airbrush, a sort of high-power atomizer, with that he sprayed paint over his maps in an infinite number of shadings that gave mountains and valleys, plateaus
 and riverbeds their three-dimensional height and depth. Second, he suspended two large floating globes — one political, one physical — from the ceiling by 
pulleys and counterweights in such a
way that they can be turned, lowered and photographed from any angle or perspective. Third, he created a library of celluloid symbols, that contained bomb explosions, flags, camels, ships, soldiers and moving battalions.” (Angeletti)

Over time, perhaps the most noticeable shift in his work was the use of color. His Time maps during the Second World War all use a simple palette of black, gray and red, but some time thereafter his maps begin appearing in full color.

Writing in 1957 during the middle of Chapin’s career at Time, Walter Ristow observed that “the Time-Chapin association, extending over almost two decades, has been one of the major pillars of American journalistic cartography. Chapin maps have established a pattern and style for modern newsmagazine cartography.” (Ristow, p. 384)

Chapin’s TIME magazine maps were enormously popular, and they were often enlarged and reprinted in poster format for distribution to schools. The present example was in the artist’s possession until his death and was obtained from one of his descendants.

OCLC 68802344 et al, giving 10 institutional holdings as of February 2021.