Iconic MacDonald Gill map celebrating The Atlantic Charter

MacDonald Gill, The “TIME & TIDE” Map of THE ATLANTIC CHARTER. London: George Philip & Son, Ltd., The Geographical Institute and Chicago: Denoyer-Geppert Company, 1942/3.
Color offset, 30”h x 43”w at neat line plus title and margins. Folds as issued and a couple of minor edge tears not intruding into printed image. About excellent.

A spectacular 1942 pictorial map by MacDonald Gill, celebrating Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s expansive vision of a peaceful post-war world.

The Atlantic Charter was a joint statement issued by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt on August 14, 1941, based largely on their conference a week earlier at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. The Charter presented an expansive eight-point vision for a peaceful world after the anticipated defeat of the Third Reich (The attack on Pearl Harbor was still four months in the future, so Japan is nowhere mentioned.) Its key themes were non-aggression, disarmament, national self-determination, free trade, and the tantalizing prospect of “a wider and permanent system of general security”. The Charter was soon endorsed by all Allied nations, including the Soviet Union, which of course had only recently collaborated with Germany on the invasion and dismemberment of Poland. The Charter’s principles later formed the underpinnings of the UN Charter, signed on June 26, 1945.

Soon after the joint statement, the British weekly Time and Tide commissioned artist MacDonald Gill to design this celebratory map. Gill was already well known for, among other things, his magnificent pictorial maps including the Wonderground Map of London (1914) and the Highways of Empire (1927). Inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, his body of work featured a colorful, muscular, globalist and fundamentally upbeat style, well suited to the themes of The Atlantic Charter.

Gill’s Time and Tide map certainly delivers, with its compelling depiction of a peaceful, prosperous world bound together by trade. The nations of the world are packed with no fewer than 28 different symbols, each representing a different natural resource or agricultural product, everything from aluminum to zinc and apples to tobacco. The continents in turn are bound together by dashed lines indicating trade routes, plied by passenger vessels and cargo ships. Interspersed around the map are paeans to peace from The Book of Isaiah, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others, while a large vignette at lower left illustrates Isaiah’s “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”. The whole is surmounted by the eight points of The Atlantic Charter, bearing the signatures of Roosevelt and Churchill (This is a convenient fiction, as the final negotiations took place by radio, and no final document was ever signed!)

The Time and Tide map went through several editions, the first published by George Philip & Son in London in 1942. Offered here is the very scarce American edition, bearing a 1943 copyright.

MacDonald (“Max”) Gill (1884-1947)
Gill was born in Brighton, England, the second son among a total of 13 children (His elder brother, Eric Gill, was an artist and a significant figure in the Arts & Crafts movement.) His family moved to Chichester, where Gill went to school before a brief apprenticeship with a local architect. Around 1903 he moved to London, and for several years worked as an assistant to an ecclesiastical architecture firm in London, while also taking classes at the Central School of Art, where he was deeply influenced by the thriving Arts & Crafts movement. In 1908 he went into independent practice. Though best known as a designer of pictorial maps, throughout his career Gill took a wide range of architectural, mural and even type-design commissions. In 1918, for example, the Imperial War Graves Commission engaged him to design the alphabet for military badges and headstones, still in use today.

Gill’s first cartographic project of which I have found mention came in 1909, being a “wind-dial” commissioned by the architect of a villa in Buckinghamshire. In 1913 he was commissioned to produce a promotional map poster for the Underground Electric Railways of London. The resulting Wunderground Map of London Town was a huge hit, and he became a “go-to” artist for major pictorial maps; but it also marked a broader trend, “herald[ing] the use of pictorial maps in the world of commercial publicity” (“Biography” at macdonaldgill.com). Gill produced many such maps over the course of his career, as well as painted maps for private commissions, though none so famous today as the Wundeground Map. His final map was the spectacular 1946 Cable & Wireless Great Circle Map, produced in 1946, less than a year before his death.

Curtis & Pedersen, War Map, pp. 161-164. PJ Mode Collection, #2015. OCLC 12362386 and 12644296, between them giving only four institutional holdings of this American edition as of June 2022.