A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
Victor Levasseur (1800–1870) was a French cartographer who crippled and broke the modern line about not spending ink on a informational design that did not carry some sort of specific and necessary data. It seems that most of Levasseur's ink was decorative--but that's okay, I guess, because the effects today look quite handsome--and also it should be remembered that at the time the man was not exactly awash in detailed data. That said, he produced this beautiful little miniature map showing the comparative heights of mountains, though the detail is more-or-less generally lacking, and frankly I'm comfortable with that.
[Source: "Tableau Orographique" a miniature map by Victor Levasseur (1795-1862), published in his Atlas Classique Universel de Geographie ..., about 1835]
To read the title of the pamphlet The Radio Dealer's Handbook (1937) in a sales catalog would do little to excite any particular zeal, though to see its cover probably would spark an interest enough to at least browse the pamphlet. And browsing was a happy thing, as I found several infographics,including a terrific map of the U.S. showing the states in proportionate sizes according to radio ownership. Well, it shows the U.S. and Canada, which evidently sported as many radios as Massachusetts and exists on this map looking very much like a mini-U.S. It also seems as though radio ownership in the Dust Bowl regions was very restricted, the land area north of Oklahoma to the border is about as thin as a swizzle stick.
And a graphic representation of how well radios reproduce various sounds (that was to be used by radio salesmen in influencing their customers' selections):
And the very seldom seen layout of a radio shop:
And the cover of the pamphlet and source of these images:
I have posted many times to this blog over the last eight years on interesting examples of the graphical display of information (mostly in the category of "Information, Quantitative Display of") that included subjects like the comparative heights of mountains and lengths of rivers, ocean depths, divorce rates, fatalities from various diseases, literacy, the location of the population centers of the U.S., what 50,000 B-17s looked like if they were to fly at the same time, and so on. Most of these are 19th century vintage, though there are a fair number now from before WWII, though the more recent varieties show unusual bits like the amount of food consumed by an average family over the course of a year, the history of hemlines in dresses, the changes in the vital measurements of the White Rock girl, and the like.
The following map--depicting immigration origins and relative amounts and destinations--is somewhat unusual not only for the early date and manner in which the info is displayed, but also in the design--the data is not crowded out from the field of vision by anything but the broadest outlines of geography, almost all details are left off the map, which also uses two pale colors to set off the land and the sea, allowing the graphed colors to stand brilliantly apart.
[Map source--the Library of Congress, http://tile.loc.gov/image-services/iiif/service:gmd:gmd3:g3201:g3201e:ct000242/full/pct:25/0/default.jpg]
The map is the work of the early innovator and information-explorer Charles Minard, who is most known for his famously ubiquitous depiction of the death of Napoleon's army in its advance upon and retreat from Moscow (see https://robots.thoughtbot.com/analyzing-minards-visualization-of-napoleons-1812-march).
I've found a number of interesting maps in the pamphlet collection here--these are highly unusual to my experience in that they were the work of a firm called "Geopress", which was an active business and cover for a significant intelligence agent for the Soviet Union, operating in Switzerland, collecting data relating to German activities during WWII. There's nothing I can add beyond the information that I quote extensively below from the CIA website on Rado--except that I cannot find images/examples of his Geopress work. So it seems the most efficient thing to do here is to simply quote the known sources and reproduce the images of the 18 maps and their accompanying texts.
As I said Rado operated Geopress as a news/cartographic service, and Rado was an accomplished cartographer, so the mans in and off themselves as maps are perhaps not a singular issue. Their evident scarcity, however, does seem to be an issue. Also I do not understand why these maps are so small, some of which are just 1"x 3"; also the uneven;y cut/torn text sheets that are made to accompany the maps are also puzzling in their own way. I do not understand the format--someone out there in Weblandia no doubt will.
All of the maps shown below are from 1942. They were received by the Library of Congress in June 1943 and stamped so on the backs of the maps. (They lived for some time in the "Pamphlet Collection" at the LC before being purchased by me in 1998.)
The following quotes come from the CIA website, the Center for the Study of Intelligence, here: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol12i3/html/v12i3a05p_0001.htm]
"Alexander (Sandor) Rado, Alexander Foote's chief in the Swiss-based "Rote Drei" net that in 1941-43 supplied Moscow with detailed information on German order of battle... His activity in intelligence, mapping, and related fields has lasted nearly 50 years and may earn him a place in the pantheon of major intelligence figures of the times."
"In 1936 or 1937, with Soviet funds and having a Swiss citizen as silent partner, Rado organized Geopress, a news agency specializing as Inpress had in maps and geographic background data. Geopress was more successful than Inpress because of better organization and the increased demand for news maps in the advancing shadows of World War II. As cover for an intelligence operation it proved ideal. Its normal activity—news collection and dissemination—provided justification for contacts with businessmen, officials, diplomats, journalists, and military leaders, some of whom became intelligence sources. It also justified a large volume of telephone and telegraph traffic, extensive postal business, and the maintenance of a courier system."
"While building up his Geopress cover Rado also developed his sources, organized communications, and summarized for transmission the reports collected by his growing network. And he even found time to maintain through publications his image as an internationally known geographer."
"24 Feb. 1945. During the German occupation of Hungary, (Rado) lived in Geneva where (he) published geographical maps for the Allied Governments until 1943; discovered by the GESTAPO and consequently his relatives in Hungary were murdered/ went with family to Paris in September 1944 and continued his work/summoned to Russia to report on his activities with the Free French Organization and left on 8 Jan. 1945 by special plane for Moscow/suspecting a trap, he got off the plane in Cairo where he remained/received no news from his wife in Paris and suspects that she might have been deported/he was formerly a Fellow of the Geographical Society in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Rome and Washington, D.C. OFFICE OF CENSORSHIP, Egypt, 11 April 1945."
[Again, the source for this and the above quotes: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol12i3/html/v12i3a05p_0001.htm]
The details of this chronological chart/map caught my eye--the genealogy trees look to me very out-of-place or -time, speaking in terms of design, and seem to have a definite mid-20th century feel to them:
They are found in the left section of Jakob Skeen' s 1887 Genealogical Chronological And Geographical Chart. Embracing Biblical And Profane History Of Ancient Times From Adam To Christ, which is part of my friend P.J. Mode's wonderful collection of what he refers to as "Persuasive Maps", now housed at Cornell University. I don't often see chronologies of this detail with embedded maps, which is another odd bit about this display of information; overall, it is unusual to my experience:
This very graphic allegorical map was published at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 and was intended to depict General Winfield Scott's not-bad plan for the eventual destruction of the Confederacy. He called for isolating the Southern states by a naval blockade and by a push from the West and also an advance up the Mississippi River. The problem with the plan for most people was that Scott saw correctly that the new war was going to be long and costly--this at a time when most saw the conflict as a months-long affair. Part of the correctness of Scott's recognition of a long war was that the Northern states had fewer than 20,000 troops, and that many more would be needed and that the army would need to be gathered, trained, and built, none of which would happen quickly. But the general faults with the plan do not diminish his important contribution that the Civil War would a total war, and that the conflict would not be over any time soon.
[For a good and concise article to get you started in understanding Scott's' plan, see B. Wolfe, "Anaconda Plan", (2011, May 9), in Encyclopedia Virginia: http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Anaconda_Plan.]
(I bumped into the Anaconda Plan map on cnn.com or something like that, in a piece on 15 great maps or some such, but there was almost no backstory...)
[Source: the Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/item/99447020/]
This orderly and semi-pastoral bird's-eye view of the earliest part of the war in the west of WWII appeared in The Illustrated London News on September 30, 1939, three weeks or so after the Nazi attack on Poland. The foreground shows about 40 km of the front from the river Nied to the Saar and south to Saarburgken, with the Siegfried Line in the distance. The map shows the region into which 40 French divisions advanced from September 7-16, meeting little resistance from the outnumbered German troops who by and large fell back to more defensible positions.
Not much happened.
This period of the war has often been referred to as the "Phony War" due to the lack of action, though it wouldn't seem so "phony" if you were killed in the process, as thousands were. Winston Churchill referred to it more as the "Twilight War", which is far more appropriate--and this no doubt more meaningful to Churchill int he light of the HMS aircraft carrier "Courageous" being sent to the bottom by Nazi torpedoes with the loss of more than 500 sailors...there was certainly not a bloody thing "phony" in that.
The French referred to this period as the "Drole de Guerre", which they really shouldn't've done--their Saar offensive of mid-September being stunted and odd, came to a halt, and the troops called back to the doomed Maginot in October.
The Twilight War continued until late April, and then in May, it was certainly all over, as the Nazis attacked Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. And then of course came France. In just about the same amount of time that the Saar Offensive occupied, the Germany advanced and forced France to surrender, the curtain coming down on June 22. Calm before the storm, and all that--the rest of the war was more storm before the storm, until there was storm no more.
I found this fabulous map of concentrations of U.S.A. (1944) traffic flow somewhere in the hinterlands. When I started to research its origin I found that the background and story of the map and its source is dealt splendidly by Eric Fischer in a 26-photo Flickr set here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/albums/72157632238833323
[Source: Interregional Highways: Message from the President of the United States Transmitting a Report of the National Interregional Highway Committee, Outlining and Recommending a National System of Interregional Highways, January 12, 1944.]
Emma Willard (1819-1870) has been described as an "apostle" of female higher education in the U.S. She wrote some interesting texts on American history, concentrating in the telling of the story by chronology, and using some interesting visual aids to focus the readers' attention in a condensed manner. She created several memory palaces in her imagery, making it easier and perhaps more elegant for her readers to be able to more easily record the progression of history.
The "dark tunnel of creation" here is the background of the events of history housed by an ionic temple--in the original (from the Library of Congress) the word "Creation" is really quite small, and then surrounded by a considerable well of darkness, the millennia slipping by without index or notice, until they don't.
And the full image (images via the Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/item/2005694445/):
(Mrs. Emma Willard's Chronographer of ancient history, published in Troy, New York, printed by lithography via Sarony of NYC.
Emma Willard also produced this beautiful chronological print, meant to be displayed no doubt on a schoolroom wall:
Tree of chronology [Source: via DavidRumsey.com maps: http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~240521~5512286:Willard-s-Chronographer-of-American?utm_source=hootsuite]
This fine map popped out at the warehouse today--the New York Herald, September 10, 1863, with a fantastic full-page/front-page map of the theater of war in Georgia (and southern Tennessee and south-western North Carolina), back when newspapers were newspapers. But the map centers on Georgia, and comes just a week before the second bloodiest battle of the war at Chickamauga. (The town appears right underneath the label for "Chattanooga".)
My own Hendersonville appears at the extreme east portion of the map in North Carolina, just north of the South Carolina line. Most of the mountains seem to not make a very formidable entrance on this map (though Cold Mountain is seen just to the north-west of Hendersonville), and I think it is somewhat deceiving. I've driven the mountains a lot in Western North Carolina and often thought of slogging around the region in the foothills, avoiding all of the mountains that I was driving through which really didn't show up on this map. There's a reason that there wasn't that much in the way of conflict in this region of WNC, northern SC, and eastern Tennessee--of course there wasn't much worth winning, but marching through the mountains would have been a major piece of bad country to go through.
In any event, this was a good map for northern and central Georgia, introducing northern readers to an advancing front of the war.
Rhinoceros nunquam victus ab hoste cedit--the rhino never turns away defeated from the enemy
And so we begin a look an an allegorical map1 of matrimony with an allegorical statement comparing marriage to a rhino--this is a first for me, and it may also be an original application of the epigram to (human) marriage. I guess in the mind's eye this looks as though it might be so, given there's really no possibility of dealing with a charging rhino weather the Big Boy is charging in happiness or fear, anger or love--it is just going to get you.
The map has a little more guile than this, enumerating the good points of marriage along with some of the bad--surprisingly these states nearly fill an alphabet, which is pretty unusual given that there are only about 50 states and it covers 17 letters (with nothing at all for the last four letters).
And so the carto-geographical indulgence of the alphabet of marriage: Acceptance, Cape of; Brides Bay; Comfort, Cape of; Delight, Cape of; Envy Point; Fickelness, Shoals of; Hope, Cape of Good; Introduction, Bay of; Jealousy, Isle of; Lawyers, Land of; Observation Point; Paymoney Point; Reflection, Whirlpool of; Scandals, Sea of; Tattlers, Land of; Undercurrent Bay; Vanity, Mount of.
[This is clearer when expanded. Source: the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/resource/g9930.ct003856/]
And the full version:
1. Map of Matrimony on Mercators projection shewing to timid lovers the orbit of affection to the true haven of conjugal happiness. (In upper margin: Puzzle : the second expedition of the Vessel Pinta.)
This incredible map appeared in the May 19, 1945 issue of the Kolnischer Kurier, It was published in Koln, in German, for Germans, but was printed and distributed as news and propaganda by the advancing U.S. Army. It is remarkable that at the tail end of the final offensive there were such forward-thinking people planning in terms like this, dealing with a newly-conquered enemy and trying to organize the thoughts of the population.
[The first twelve issues of the Kolnischer Kurier were published by the Americans; the rest of the newspaper (issues 13-62, 1945-6) were published by the British.]
The map leaves little to the imagination except for what total defeat might bring:
[Kolnischer Kurier map, 19 May 1945, via Veri Josef Weber http://veriweber.de/der-pulverdampf-hat-sich-verzogen/]
The newspaper was extraordinarily, reporting on the Tötungsanstalt Hadamar/Hadamar Euthenasia Center in 1945, theBergen-Belsen trials at Luneburg in September 1945, the Nuremberg trials (November 1945-September 1946), and much else. Deserving a separate mention is a piece by Thomas Mann on the German concentration camps published nearly on the day of German surrender--Mann makes explicit, personal claims that all Germans are responsible for the atrocities of the concentration camps. (Mann would make a radio address on May 8th exactly on the German soul and the concentration camps, and culpability, and blame, and the morality of the war.
This is another entry in a series of posts on maps and the representation of quantitative data, this one being early in the development of this genre of imagery. The map (a little guy at 5x7") is from An Atlas Accompanying Worcester's Epitome of Geography, published in Boston by Hilliard, Gray & Co., in 1828.
[Source: Images of the Hilliard map found at David Rumsey's map website, here: http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/s/xz62g8]
In the 46 river lengths displayed here, 45 have distinct measurements; one--the Niger--does not, or almost does. The indistinct and suggested delineation shows what was know of the river, and what wasn't, with bits on either side of the middle section (reached and surveyed by the fabulously-named Mungo Park, 1771-1806, at the turn of the century). Much of the Niger wasn't well known at this point, though it had been plotted in part since antiquity--with all of that the overall length was well approximated (very close to its nearly-2500 mile length, the main river in West Africa). The line/dot combination was an honest approximation of displaying the river's length, and not often seen.
"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair."
So opens the semi- and fully-immortal The Hunting of the Snark. an Agony in Eight Fits, by the fully-and-not-partially-immortal Lewis Carroll, which (if it can said what the book is about) is about eight guys whose professions all begin with a letter "b" plus a beaver in search of a Snark. In the second of eight Fits that comprise this lyrically nonsensical poem, we encounter a map of the route of possibilities taken by the group, this being in the charge of the Bellman. This is not only the finest map illustrating a Fit that exists, it is also (as I've stated earlier in this blog) one of the most beautiful maps ever published. It is a beautiful map of nothing, showing nothing, and marking the route of nothing. Perfect for the Snark story.
The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies- Such a carriage, such ease and such grace! Such solemnity too! One could see he was wise, The moment one look in his face!
He had bought a large map representing the sea, Without the least vestige of land: And the crew were much pleased when the found it to be A map they could all understand.
"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators, Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?" So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply, "They are merely conventional signs!
"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! But we've got our brave Captain to thank" (So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best- A perfect and absolute blank!"
Sometimes there is nothing so fine as something that beautifully illustrates the nothing that isn’t there, and this lovely map, unencumbered of all of the elements and details that define the mapness of something, perfectly explains the origin of its need.
The Snark evidently occurred to Carroll while he was out walking on one bright summer day, on a hillside--actually, it was one line of poetry, and it wound up being the closely line of the book.
In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—-
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
So we had those eight guys and a beaver, setting out from points unknown and going to places not seen.
This was all started by that string of poetry that entered Carroll's head on his walk. He didn't know what it meant, and didn't know where it was going; he did however set out to figure it out for himself. ("I know not what it meant, the; I know not what it means, now..."1) I find it such a lovely thing that Carroll would spend so much time trying to retrieve the intellectual evidence of where this line came from. And what his investigation revealed was The Hunting of the Snark. And at the end of the day, Carroll was no closer to knowing what a Snark was, in spite of all of the writing and commentary and criticism. Throughout the rest of his life Carroll insisted that he didn't know what the poem meant, though it could have meant something. It was supposed to have been a work of nonsense and illogic, but I think it fits with the rest of his work on nonsense and the logic of it, so my best guess is that there was nothing quite so logically in his works as the reach of the illogical in pursuit of a logical end.
Full text of the Snark, here, via Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13/13-h/13-h.htm Also a pdf with illustrations: http://www.archive.org/stream/huntingofsnarkan00carruoft#page/n27/mode/2up
1. This line occurs in Morton Chase's Lewis Carroll, a Biography, published by Macmillan in 1995, p 404.