Celebrating the agricultural and natural resources of the United States

C. King, LEADING PRODUCTS OF OUR FARMS / LEADING STOCK OF OUR FARMS / LEADING MINERALS OF OUR COUNTRY. Springfield, Mass.: W. C. King Company, 1906.
Lithograph printed in black, blue and red, 16”h x 35”w at neat line plus margins. Verso with text and charts printed in black. Gently toned, minor edge chipping and a couple of short edge tears.
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A charming example of what Edward Tufte called “the visual display of quantitative information”, celebrating the agricultural and natural resources wealth of the United States.

This is in fact three charts at one, that at left detailing the produce of American farming, that at upper right livestock raising, and that at lower right mineral production. Each chart is broken out by the type of product, for example corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye and so on. For each product a small thematic map indicates the area of the country where it is primarily sourced, and the top ten state producers are listed, with the acreage dedicated to the product in each state and its annual volume of production and cash value. The state-level statistics are accompanied by small illustrations of the product in question, each sized relative to that state’s production. The back of the page contains further charts and several columns of explanatory text.

The chart was designed and possibly drawn by William C. King (1853-?) of Springfield, Massachusetts and appeared in King’s Illustrated Portfolio of Our Country (1906). This stunning graphic atlas consisted of 11 vivid, jam-packed, double-page charts and diagrams celebrating different aspects of United States culture, economics, history, and politics, each accompanied by a page or two of explanatory text. It was cleverly designed, vividly illustrated and deeply patriotic, but also revealing some of the dark, nativist underbelly of American culture.

The charts in the Illustrated Portfolio all reflected King’s views about what Edward Tufte later called the “visual display of quantitative information”.

“What we read from the printed page, soon fades from the memory. Information seen with the eye, becomes permanently fixed in the mind…. Illustrated Information makes an indelible impression upon the memory. That which we read from the printed page is soon forgotten, but events, facts and men, seen in their proper relationship, become fixed in the mind without the task of memorizing.” (Illustrated Portfolio of Our Country, pp. 3-4)

King was hardly the first American to emphasize the graphic display of historical information as an aid to learning; in this country the most prominent early proponent of this approach was Emma Willard (1787-1870), though examples date back at least to David Rowland’s Epitome of Ecclesiastical History (1806) and David Ramsay’s Historical and Biographical Chart of the United States (1810).

References
OCLC 22335377 et al, give a total of 14 or 15 holdings of the Illustrated Porftolio in North American institutions (January 2020).