A rare and visionary pictorial map by Ernest Dudley Chase drawn during the Second World War but projecting a world at peace. Signed by Chase and “especially painted” for his collaborator Oliver K. Whiting.
The map is a riot of imagery, all supporting the basic point that technological advances in communications and transportation were bringing the world closer to universal government and lasting peace. Oh well.
“Chase’s maps are brimming with American optimism and champion the shrinking globe as a result of the advancement of aeronautics. In Chase’s 1944 masterpiece “Mercator Map of The World United: A Pictorial History of Transport and Communications and Paths to Permanent Peace” what was once far-flung is now seen under the equatorial headline “No Spot On Earth Is More Than Forty Flying Hours From Your Local Airport.” Airplanes, zeppelins, trains, and steamliners are everywhere and Chase maps the resulting travel times between the continents. In this worldview travel, cooperation, and technical innovation go hand-in-hand, depicting a world as it exists only in Chase’s ideological projection. Science becomes the tool of cultural progress — the transistor, the diesel engine, and the radio tower are the harbingers of freedom.” (Jason Forrest, “Designed and Drawn With Infinite Care: the Pictorial Maps of Ernest Dudley Chase” in Nightingale: The Journal of the Data Visualization Society, accessed on-line May 2020)
Other examples of the map appear to have printed color, in a variety of schemes (compare here and here). This example, however, is in full hand color, according to the inscription by Chase at lower left, “Especially Painted for My Good Friend Oliver K Whiting”. The cartouche identifies Whiting as having “originated, designed, copyrighted and distributed” the map. We have been unable to learn anything else about him—he is not noted in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography–and the exact nature of his collaboration with Chase remains unclear.
The map is quite rare for a pictorial. We find but eight holdings in OCLC and am aware of only one other impression having appeared on the antiquarian market.
Ernest Dudley Chase (1878-1966)
Chase was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and received his first artistic training from his father, a wallpaper designer, and then at art schools in Lowell and Boston. From 1900-1908 he worked for a couple of printing companies, before establishing Des Arts Publishers (later Ernest Dudley Chase Publishers), which developed into one of the country’s leading producers of greeting cards. Perhaps Chase tired of the business side of the operation, for in 1921 his firm merged with Rust Craft Publishers, also of Boston, and he took the position of Vice President of Creative Designs. He stayed with Rust Craft until retiring in 1958.
At the age of 49 (i.e., some time around 1927) Chase began a side business producing pictorial maps.
“Chase crafted his maps with care, each taking from six months to a year to complete. He worked with a magnifying glass, inking in, dot by dot, the tiny scenes that covered many of his maps. These stamp-size scenes were based on his own sketches, still and motion picture collection (he reputedly shot an estimated one hundred thousand feet of cine-film), postcards, and other illustrative material.” (Hornsby, p. 32)
By the mid-1940s he had enough material to issue a broadsheet mail-order catalog, The Ernest Dudley Chase Decorative Pictorial Novelty Maps (front and back visible here and here). The catalog includes The Mercator Map of the World United, described simply as Peace Map, printed in full color, “autographed and beautifully gift wrapped”, for $1 (As mentioned above, the presentation copy offered here has been “especially painted” by Chase himself in full hand color.) Ironically, in addition to his idealistic and visionary Peace Map, the catalog also offers Jap Map, Total War Map, and Pacific Battle Map.
Hornsby offers the following tribute to Chase’s work:
“Chase was one of the most popular and prolific pictorial mapmakers during the middle decades of the twentieth century. His maps were among the most ambitious of all American pictorial maps…. Although nearly all his maps have a certain formality and repetitive quality, Chase was a skillful designer and meticulous mapmaker whose works retain great appeal.” (Hornsby, pp. 31-2)
Hornsby, Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps, plate 145. OCLC 809867802 et al. Rumsey #7959. Biographical background on Chase from Hornsby, op cit, pp. 31-34.