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A persuasive map is one that is designed to make a point, that is, to alter the viewers beliefs or perhaps even spur them to action.  The archetypal use of persuasive maps is for the purpose of political propaganda, such as the “Gerrymander” map, but they can address a wide range of subjects. In fact, we have handled persuasive maps in diverse fields such as advertising, moral education, social science, anti-nuclear protest, women’s suffrage, tourism, and even oil fraud!

The techniques of the persuasive mapmaker are many and varied.  To give just a handful of examples: Spatial distortion can emphasize the heights of mountains to make them appear more impressive for would-be tourists.  Arresting imagery can create an indelible visual metaphor for an enemy or ally.  Selective coloring can emphasize a threat or, for that matter, minimize it.

But a map need not necessarily distort reality to be persuasive.  Consider this map from the Civil War era, which makes use of careful shading to suggest how the pervasiveness of slavery varied across Virginia’s counties.

View Boston Rare Maps Catalog 3, Reformers & Visionaries, Scoundrels and Incendiaries: 250 Years of Persuasive Mapping



212 results, ordered by Publication Date

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Second map in Valentine Seaman article on yellow fever in 3rd edition of volume I of Medical Repository

The Medical Repository, with groundbreaking yellow fever maps by Valentine Seaman

A scarce volume of early American medical history. With an important article by Valentine Seaman featuring two all-but unknown thematic maps of yellow fever outbreaks in Manhattan, generally accepted as the earliest published epidemiological maps and preceding Snow’s work on cholera by half a century. The Medical Repository was the first American medical journal, founded […]

$4,500
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R. M. Chapin 1943 "Global Combat" map for Time Magazine

R. M. Chapin map of Allied offensives, drawn for Time Magazine

A striking 1943 poster depicting options for Allied offensives against the Axis, drawn by Robert M. Chapin for Time magazine. The poster features side-by-side maps of the European and Asia-Pacific Theatres on a stereographic projection, giving the viewer the sense of seeing the Earth from space. The theatres of war are, in a sense, carved […]

$750
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Gordon-Michael Scallion, Gordon-Michael Scallion’s FUTURE MAP OF THE WORLD. Chesterfield, NH: The Matrix Institute, 1996.

Gordon-Michael Scallion predicts The Great Tribulation, the Blue-Ray Children, and more

A 1996 imaginary map of the Earth after “The Tribulation”, as predicted by futurist, spiritualist and self-styled prophet Gordon-Michael Scallion (1942-?) This mammoth world map summarizes Scallion’s predictions and depicts their impact cartographically. The anticipated mayhem is predicted to begin with three “shifts” in the magnetic poles, each of six to eight degrees, expected to […]

$2,250
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Compiled and edited by Joseph P. Kamp and A. Cloyd Gill, THE FIFTH COLUMN MENACES AMERICA ON A THOUSAND FRONTS [and on verso:] The FIFTH COLUMN CONSPIRACY IN America [:] AUTHENTIC MAP and DIRECTORY. New Haven: Constitutional Educational League, 1941.

Constitutional Educational League map attacking a Communist-Fascist “Fifth Column” in America

A fascinating 1941 propaganda map of the United States, designed to expose the pervasive and oft-hidden influence of Communist and Fascist forces in American politics and culture. The map purports to show how the Communists—allegedly in league with the Nazis and various Fascist organizations—had established a pervasive, nationwide “Fifth Column” that “Menaces America on a […]

$3,250
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Annie G. Lyle and Archive Rice, Political Sentiment Map Of United States [:] WHAT POLITICIANS DON’T KNOW. San Francisco and Washington, D. C., 1931.

Crunching electoral data to re-elect Herbert Hoover

An extremely rare broadside by two fans of Herbert Hoover, analyzing the results of the 1928 presidential election and revealing some of the less appealing elements of the politics of Prohibition. The 1928 election was fought between Democrat Al Smith, Governor of New York, and Republican Herbert Hoover, an engineer, businessman and Secretary of Commerce […]

$2,500
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Bruno / Imp. Paul Dupont, LIRE LA BASTILLE Journal Hebdomadaire Illustré ANTIMAÇONNIQUE [“Read La Bastille, the Illustrated Weekly Anti-Masonic Newspaper”]. Paris: [Paul] Copin-Albancelli, ND [but ca. 1906].

Octopus map reflecting French anti-Semitism at the turn of the 20th century

A spectacular albeit noxious French persuasive map using the octopus motif to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Freemasonry. As in other European nations, French anti-Semitism has a long history, most famously manifesting itself in the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s and collaboration with Nazi deportation of Jews during the Second World War. In the public mind, Jews were […]

$4,500
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Rivers / Photo by Malcolm Varon / Printed by Colorcraft Offset, Inc., America Needs MCGOVERN. HE CAN PUT IT TOGETHER. [New York?: McGovern presidential campaign? 1972.]

Cartographic poster for the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern

A striking, quirky and quite rare poster for the catastrophic 1972 presidential campaign of South Dakota Senator George McGovern. The 1972 campaign took place against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, ongoing cultural upheavals and the still-fresh memories of Kent State and the assassinations of two Kennedys and Martin Luther King. I was only five […]

$950
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[Theodore Geisel and Munro Leaf] / Army Orientation Course, Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, [recto:] THIS IS Ann.. …she drinks blood!  [verso:] NEWSMAP / MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1943. Washington, D.C.: War Department, 1943.  Double-sided poster printed in color halftone, 34 ¾”h x 47”w at sheet edge. Minor smudging at one corner, else excellent.

World War II anti-malaria poster by Doctor Seuss

A clever, striking and rather rare pairing of anti-malaria poster and pamphlet produced for members of the American military during World War II, illustrated by Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.   The Japanese conquest of Indonesia and the Philippines in early 1942 cut the Allies off from their supply of cinchona bark, which provides the […]

$1,750
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R[obert] M[acfarlane] Chapin, Jr., THREE-WAY DOOM. [New York:] Time, Inc., April 2, 1945 [but a bit later.]

R. M. Chapin map of the bombing of Japan in 1945

A striking poster published in the waning months of the Second World War, showing what was left of the Japanese Empire being decimated by American bombers attacking from three directions. The map is a much-enlarged version of one printed in the April 2, issue of Time magazine. Mapmaker Robert M. Chapin (fl. 1937-1970), Chief Cartographer […]

$650
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The Dangerfield Printing Co. Ltd., SUBJECT NATIONALITIES OF THE GERMAN ALLIANCE. London: Stanford’s Geographical Establishment, ca. 1917.

Subject Nationalities of the German Alliance

An imposing First World War Allied propaganda map highlighting the hegemonic nature of the Central Powers and arguing for a post-war reorganization of Europe according to the principle of national self-determination. The map depicts Europe and the Near East, color-coded to indicate the dominant nationalities in the vast region then controlled by the Central Powers of […]

$750
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