R. M. Chapin map of the Soviet Union

R[obert] M[acfarlane] Chapin, Jr., [Untitled map of the Soviet Union.] [New York:] Time, Inc., Nov. 17, 1941 [but a bit later.]
Halftone in red and black, 30 ½”h x 45 ¾”w at neat line plus margins. Folds as issued, else excellent.

A monumental map emphasizing the vast size and immense natural wealth of the Soviet Union as well as the threat of Axis invasion from the East and West. In a nice touch, the Communist state is shown in red, with members of the Axis and areas under their control in dark gray.

The map is a much-enlarged version of one printed in the Nov. 17, 1941, issue of Time magazine. Mapmaker Robert M. Chapin (fl. 1937-1970), Chief Cartographer at Time, 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 to Newsweek rival Time, where he worked for the next 33 years. He and his team were extremely prolific, producing four, five and six maps per week to keep up with breaking news during the Second World War.

Chapin’s work has an immediately-recognizable style, a function of several 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.” (Norberto Angeletti, “Inside the Invention of the the Modern News Illustration and Infographic Map,” at Time.com)

To that list I would add the use of bright red to represent movement and action, often in the form of large, “swooping” arrows.

After the Second World War Chapin remained at the magazine for another quarter century, during which time he produced numerous maps of Cold War subjects, a titanic “us vs. them” struggle to which his bold, clean style (and liberal use of red) were well suited.

Not in Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection.