Spectacular Philips pictorial map of the global shortwave radio network

[Walter] Eckhard, PHILIPS RADIO. [Eindhoven, ca. 1935.]
Lithograph, 29 ¼”h x 42 ¼”w plus margins.

A spectacular 1930s promotional for Philips Radio featuring a pictorial map of the global shortwave radio network, with each continent crammed with imagery.

The overall effect is rich, though rather crudely stereotypical—the vignettes include giraffes and spear-toting natives in Africa, igloos in Greenland, a teapot in Sri Lanka, and so on. Superimposed on the map are red circles indicating the locations of dozens of shortwave radio stations. These are numerically keyed to a legend at the base of the map, which gives the call sign and frequency of each station. Rather in the manner of 16th-century maps that covered an empty “Terra Australis Incognita” (Antarctica) with decorative panels, here much of Eurasia, devoid of shortwave stations, is hidden by an inset map of world time zones.

The map was drawn by Walter Eckhard (1903-1982) and published by the radio division of Philips. According to a biography on the web site of the Philips art collection, Eckhard was born in a small town in Saxony, Germany, trained as a draftsman and lithographer, and in 1930 went to work as a graphic designer at Philips’ Eindhoven headquarters. He worked there until 1939, when he may have been fired for being a Nazi sympathizer. At any rate he returned to Germany, was captured by the British while fighting for the Wehrmacht, and after the war returned to his hometown of Döbeln. He spent the rest of his life active as an artist and in local politics, though he never joined the Communist Party.

Philips was established in 1891 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands as a maker of incandescent light bulbs. It became a leading innovator in consumer electronics, pioneering among other things radios, electric shavers, and compact discs. Today it is a mammoth multinational, producing products from Blu-ray players to healthcare imaging devices to LED light bulbs. In the 1930s Philips Radio issued a number of these promotional maps, all highlighting the locations of shortwave stations and filled with decorative imagery. Another example of the genre may be viewed here.

Rumsey #8110. Not in OCLC.


A few mended tears extending into image and some water staining and other discoloration largely visible only in margins.