The Political Satire of The First World War A Sale of Maps & Atlases

With the First World War centenary at the forefront of our thoughts, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions present a snapshot of political satire, produced as war waged across Europe. A series of serio-comic maps that visualised the geographical and political difficulties of war will be offered in a sale of Maps and Atlases on Friday 25th April 2014 at the auctioneer’s saleroom in London’s Mayfair.

serio-comic map of Europe entitled 'Kill That Eagle'

serio-comic map of Europe entitled ‘Kill That Eagle’

Although satirical maps have a long history that stretches back to the medieval period and Munster’s Geographica, 1540, it was with the outbreak of World War One that the genre became a media sensation. Illustrators utilised the genre as an innovative outlet for their political satire that played on the geo-political situation. Readily accessible, humorous and affordable, the maps became increasingly popular and collectible.

Drawn by Anglo-Russian artist, John Henry Amshewitz, the highlight of the section is a First World War serio-comic map of Europe entitled ‘Kill That Eagle’, dated 1914. Later reproductions, produced in Germany, mocked the slogan “Business as Usual” written on Britain. This highly collectible English example, published by Geographica Limited is estimated at £800-1,200. [Lot 378]

During the War the symbolic imagery developed to include animal metaphors to humorous effect. One particularly successful example is, ‘Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Bark!’. Visualising the countries of Europe as a mass of warring dog breeds, the map includes an explanatory note by Walter Emanuel; “The Dogs of War are loose in Europe, and a nice noise they are making! It was started by a Dachshund that is thought to have gone mad-though there was so much method in his madness that this is doubtful….” Offering a fascinating insight into the political commentary of the First World War, this map is estimated at £600-800. [Lot 381]

A prominent example of the work that influenced the serio-comic map illustrators of the time is a set of 12 caricature maps of European countries. ‘Geographical Fun’, 1868, is a posthumous work by Irish wood-engraver, illustrator, writer and botanist, William Henry Harvey, a.k.a. Aleph. It is estimated at £1,000-1,500. [Lot 377]

A small group of War Maps, including Stanford’s ‘War Map of Russia’, 1854, ‘The Daily Mail War Map’, 1914 and ‘The Daily Telegraph War Map of Europe’, 1918, present a more sobering insight into the maps of the First World War, showing the ‘War strength of the Great Powers’ amongst other military topics. The collection is estimated to achieve £150-200. [Lot 428]

A beautifully preserved example of the earliest inflatable balloon globe was invented by schoolmaster, George Pocock and drawn by Ebenezer Pocock, circa 1830. This impressive example is the largest of three sizes, measuring approximately 120cm in diameter. It is estimated at £1,000-1,500. [Lot 34]

Other unusual globes in the sale include a late 18th century manuscript terrestrial globe charting the first second and third voyages of the famous British explorer, James Cook, between 1768 and 1779. The globe shows the routes, dates of progress, and arrival at certain locations in black ink, and also includes dates for Captain Tobias Furneaux’s companion ship, HMS Adventure, when it separated from Cook during the second voyage in 1773. It is estimated at £500-700. [Lot 1]

Topping the opening single owner collection of 460 lots of cartographic curiosities is a 19th century set of 40 map cards, 1828. The New Geographical cards are issued without court cards or suit signs and instead offer 4 ‘suits’ of Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The complete set comes with an instruction booklet, ‘A Brief Explanation of the Counties & Represented by the New Geographical Game’ and is estimated at £800-1,200. [Lot 175]

Other curiosities include a brass patent ‘Empire Clock’ globe timepiece with an eight day movement enclosed within the pedestal. An example of this unusual clock is on display at The Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence. It is estimated to sell for £800-1,200. [Lot 46] From the same collection is another eight day globe timepiece. Made in the late 19th century, circa 1890, the French enamel, gilt-brass and rogue marble example is estimated at £3,000-5,000. [Lot 45]

The sale will be held on Friday 25th April 2014 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ London saleroom. The catalogue is available to view online at and the sale will be on view Wednesday 23rd – Thursday 24th April.