Tag Archives: ephamera

Creatures of Cartography

With a little break for the sand silhouettes of Normandy, I’m back to maps, which I am always “collecting” in my digital files. The collection below is made up of the remnants of one of my most popular postsMaps come Alive. Most of these maps are also anthropomorphic, but a little more detailed, and consequently a little less accessible. For some time I’ve been trying to explore, conceptually and visually, the origins and development of the concept of the “Animal Kingdom”:  it hasn’t quite come together, but in the process I’ve acquired quite a few more examples of literal and metaphorical animal maps. And that’s what we have here: the world as populated by animals and the United States depicted as various animals–“scientific” and satirical representations of animal kingdoms, of sorts.

Map Animal Kingdom 1835 American Folk Art M

Animal Map

Two Nineteenth-century Animal Maps:  anonymous author/creator, c. 1835, Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; A.J. Johnson, Map of the World Showing the Geographical Distribution and Range of the Principal Members of the Animal Kingdom, 1860. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, ©Cartography Associates.

The other animal maps of the nineteenth century are not quite so serious, but far more political. I’ve seen varieties from several different countries, but my favorite are American–bears and tigers are an easy metaphor, but only in America do you see such diverse cartographical creatures as pigs, worms, and dogs (well, maybe dogs are a bit more universal).

Animal map porcine

Animal map Blaine


Silver Dog 1896

“This Porcineograph”, a map of the U.S. in the shape of a pig, Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Co., 1879, Library of Congress; Map of the United States as encircled by the “Tapeworm Party”, Chicago Bank Note, 1888:  James G. Blaine is depicted as the head of a tapeworm made of up various government scandals, Library of Congress; Two versions of “The Silver Dog With the Golden Tail – Will the Tail Wag the Dog, or the Dog Wag The Tail?” Boston Globe, September 13, 1896, representing divisions over the adoption of the gold standard in the election of 1896.

And onto another evolution: one of the beautiful cartographical creatures of British paper artist Claire Brewster:


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