Occasional Articles on Collecting Antique Prints and Maps, Illustrated Books, Vintage Magazines and Ephemera  


An unusual satirical pictorial map of the world published in 1932 that we recently had in stock:

 Hitome de wakaru Manga sekai genjō chizu. At a glance: Cartoon Map of the Current World Situation. 一目でわかる 漫画世界現状地圖

An extraordinary satirical map of the world as seen through Japanese eyes in the early 1930s as Japanese imperial ambitions strengthened. The map was published as an editorial section of Hi no De [a monthly magazine..."aimed at a less well educated readership," according to John Dower in War Without Mercy (p. 249.) Credited as general editors/advisors are Inahara Katsuji (稲原勝治 1880-?), Harvard educated, seasoned commentator) Ōyama Ujirō (大山卯次郎 Japanese consular corps), Noda Ryoji (野田良治 ) and Maita Minoru (米田實1878-1948, newspaper editor), whose credentials lent legitimacy to the publication.
The "current world situation" is visible at a glance thanks to the cartoon ("manga") illustrations of Shishido Sakō (宍戸左行, 1888-1969) and the accompanying text. Figures of the day include Gandhi, Ramsey McDonald, Babe Ruth, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Chiang Kai-shek, Chang Hsueh-liang, Al Capone and sports figures Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. The huge figure of Stalin emerges from buildings identified as factories. He faces away from the Ural mountain range and Soviet interior where text indicates that the churches (with onion-shaped towers) have been turned into factories, farmers have become soldiers, and tractors are being used for large-scale farming – the one in the picture is equipped with three rows of eight tillers cutting a huge swath. Coal is the caption below a factory with five black smoke stacks belching inky ribbons of smoke with the figure waving from midway up a smoke stack identified as a female worker. A peasant woman with two cows represents the Ukraine. Text below the two giant heads filling Italy says Boss of the Black Shirts: Mussolini and his right-hand man, [Dino] Grandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Hindenburg is grappling with Hitler – Berlin is spelled out across their locked arms while a zeppelin floats behind them. (A foamy stein of Munich beer seems to ride the rails below the two foes.) Headquarters of the International League appears inside a fortress-like enclosure identified as Bern, Switzerland. The troubled face of a man in white is not named, though he is implied to be the president of France, the caption reading: "France, suffering from having too much money." The Eiffel Tower rises beside a demimonde dancer in stylish bob & risqué attire above a bottle of red Bordeaux wine. The text takes on a harsh tone in noting that "Shrewd England holds on tight to the diamond-rich South Africa, and [maintains a policy] of absolute exclusion of colored people. Japanese people are treated with discrimination; as the third strongest country in the world we are considered the same as natives." In the United States the lower west coast and interior are taken up with images of Olympic contenders and a film cameraman. In the southeast are black jazz musicians and in the midwest Al Capone in prison. Many forms of travel are pictured including the Trans-Siberian railroad, zeppelin and ships. Penguins strut along the lower edge of the map with an image of the South Pole in the lower right corner. Text at lower right states that the American Rear Admiral [Richard E.] Byrd launched a flight to the South Pole and plans to visit again in the autumn of this [1932] year to further explore the South Pole. To the left of the inset map is a text block indicating the “Current state/actual strength and air lanes of countries in the world, at a single glance.”  (Translations by Lynn Katsumoto, research and descriptive text by Elisabeth Burdon).


  Colortext Maps    
Colortext map of Chicago. The Greatest Inland City in the World.Read a short article by Craig Clinton investigating the Chicago publisher Colortext, a depression-era firm that issued a number of engaging and, at times, astonishing, pictorial maps.




An article by Craig Clinton, co-owner of, on the 'cock-eyed' maps of the Pacific Northwest's own map publishers, the Lindgren Brothers from Spokane Washington, has been published in the Summer 2011 issue of the Journal of the International Map Collectors Society. "The concept of the Hysterical Map was straightforward - it would be a comic map of contemporary reference as distinct from historically-themed pictorial maps documenting events from the past." The Lindgren Brothers 'Hysterical Maps' are stylistically distinctive with their brilliant color, broad humor and silk screen printing, and occupy an important place in the field of 20th century comic maps. The development of this genre is a phenomenon of considerable importance to American popular culture, linked as it is with a period when developing mass transportation systems brought travel and tourism within the means of a rapidly expanding middle class. Other examples of this genre are the comic maps that Ruth Taylor White designed for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau and the many comic maps published by Greyhound Buslines. The article is profusely illustrated - copies may be ordered from the the IMCOS website.



Pictorial Maps of the Twentieth CenturyPictorial Maps of the Twentieth Century are an area of collecting that has, until recently, received little attention by dealers, collectors, and libraries. However, along with the particular rewards of an unexplored area of collecting comes the frustration of the lack of documentation regarding the creative forces behind what was an explosive cultural phenomenon in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Pictorial maps have long appealed to me because they incorporate two of my interests: a fascination with other cultures (which for someone who has had a very peripatetic upbringing means all cultures!) and a love of pictures. Therefore, as I acquire these artifacts reflecting the popular culture and design aesthetic of their day, I endeavour to research their origins. Even if produced in relatively large quantity (often given away free, some with instructions to “pin on the wall”), many of these maps are now quite scarce because of their intended ephemeral nature.

MacDonald Gill’s Wonderground Map of London Town (1913) has always struck me as a unique product from a rather pedestrian period of map publication: an outstanding graphic — an oversized explosion of color and humor—harnessed to the goal of publicizing a burgeoning popular transportation system serving a wide public base. Over time I gathered many other maps from the 1920s and 30s that showed a clear debt to Gill’s prototype and thought of them as being appropriately grouped under the umbrella term “wonder maps.” My article exploring this genre “MacDonald Gill: The Wonderground Map of 1913 and Its Influence” appears in the Spring 2009 issue of the Journal of the International Map Collectors Society. In this article, I discuss what were, for me, the unexpected influences behind the creation of the Wonderground Map and its innovative features, concluding with illustrations of subsequent “wonder maps” from around the world. Copies of the Journal can be purchased from the IMCOS website at Pictured below is a sampling of these Gill-influenced maps.

Printed Ephemera and Popular History

Brightly colored tourist brochures, train schedules, maps, political broadsides: items that we use in our daily lives but throw away once they have fulfilled a discrete utilitarian function...these are wonderful sources for exploring "history on the ground," the interests, attitudes and preoccupations of persons who are "at home" in a particular society or merely “passing through" as visitors. It is only quite recently that the richness of this type of material as tools for cultural study has been widely recognised by libraries, researchers and collectors alike.  Elisabeth Burdon of (of Portland, Oregon, USA) will be joining her sister Sally and mother Barbara Burdon at Asia Bookroom on Saturday June 19th to present a selection of her stock of printed travel-related ephemera and illustrated maps.

Some comments on ephemera...

"Printed ephemera, that body of material which was produced for a one-time, limited purpose, can be understood generally as transient documents of everyday life. It is often compelling visually, speaks with a particular directness while at the same time contains multiple layers of meaning." (The Huntington Library Ephemera Collection)

"Ephemera is the plural form of the Greek word ephemeron...Literally it refers to something that lasts through the day...Among several deinitions of ephemera that Maurice Rickards proposed, the one that has gained widest currency is 'the minor transient documents of everyday life'...its shortcomings were as obvious to him as they are to others; for example, not every item of ephemera can be regarded as minor or even transient. What can be said of this definition is that it has stood the test of time better than any other. Collectively, however, the entries in this encyclopedia define ephemera even more effectively, since they include manuscript and printed matter, records of the past and present (both humble and prestigious), items designed to be thrown away (bus tickets) and to be kept (cigarette cards), and documents of considerable importance (at least to the individual concerned) through to the most trivial. Such variety - the very lifeblodd of literate societies - can hardly be encapsulated in a few words." (Michael Twyman's introduction to The Encyclopedia of Ephemera by Maurice Rickards, Routledge, 2000).

"While a struggle for a viable definition of ephemera continues, hobbyists and researchers who work with it agree that printed ephemera is among the richest primary resources for information on cultural, economic, and social customs and traditions. In fact, in addition to complementing manuscript and printed resources for research, in many cases these materials may be the only source of much needed information." (Publish & Perish:Printed Ephemera and Social History by Richard M. Kolbet. Books at Iowa 55 (November 1991). University of Iowa.)

"The information carried by the ephemeral items can add significantly to the data the historian draws from other sources. Ephemeral material has intrinsic and evidential value, but not enough to enable the researcher to reconstruct completely a slice of institutional history. The historian needs to consider a variety of other sources. Only in conjunction with these sources can the ephemeral material acquire outstanding research meaning." (A Bit of History in the Library Attic: Challenges of Ephemera Research by Hermina G. B. Anghelescu, in Collection Management, 1545-2549, Volume 25, Issue 4, 2001)


THE WEST SHORE MAGAZINE published in Portland Oregon 1875-1891

The West Shore Magazine was established in Portland, Oregon in 1875 by Leopold Samuel, then in his mid twenties and recently arrived in Portland. During the some 17 years of publication from 1875 to 1891 Samuel constantly reinvented the magazine. It was launched as a literary magazine with small wood engraved illustrations, but as the region’s potential for population and economic growth began to be realised, the magazine took on the nature of a booster publication, promoting the Pacific Northwest. Under the auspices of the Oregon Board of Immigration Commission this local magazine had a circulation with national and international reach, being distributed as far afield as Europe and New Zealand. 

West Shore Magazine new headquarters

Samuel wrote in March 1886 as the magazine was relocating to "commodious new headquarters": "in August, 1875…it was.. an eight-page sheet with few illustrations; now it is a handsome magazine of from forty-eight to eighty pages, profusely illustrated with original engravings. Then the work was done by contract, the circulation was small, and the office was in the proprietor’s hat; now it occupies the large quarters just described, employs a great many men, and reaches every corner of the United States…The magazine is not a local publication in the sense in which the term is applied to newspapers. Though published in Portland, it has devoted its space impartially to the whole Northwest, and in building itself up has had the satisfaction of being one of the most powerful agents in building up the country as well."

While the magazine’s articles are rich in information about the region, the quantity and quality of the striking and informative images of the region make it a truly exceptional documentary resource. Starting with small black and white wood engraved illustrations, lithography was added in 1878, color lithography in 1886 and finally there was a change to halftone photoengraving in 1891. Just a few months after this last change the magazine ceased publication. © 2009 Elisabeth Burdon



The 1800s saw the development of lithography (printing from a stone matrix) to fill the demands of a rapidly expanding consumer market; the chromolithograph, a lithograph printed in colors, became widely used to reproduce "fine art" paintings or watercolors for that market.


At its highpoint, the "chromo" is a technological marvel, involving an advanced knowledge of color and exact registration necessary to reproduce an image using as many as 20 (or more) stones. Unlike the tinted lithograph, which involves two or three stones, with the image printed from one stone, with the chromolithograph the image is built up in color from the application of many different stones. In his detailed and fascinating book The Democratic Art: Pictures for a 19th-Century America (Boston: David R.Godine, 1979) touches on many aspects of the chromo and its production in 19th century America.  The oleograph is a term used to refer to chromolithographs printed with oil inks on paper embossed to imitate the look of canvas. The print might be glued to a stretched canvas and varnished so that it could be displayed in the parlor in exact imitation of a more expensive oil painting. 

Chromolithography was widely used in the mid to late 19th century for all kinds of publications, including illustrations for books and magazines. The term "chromo" is most commonly used to apply to prints individually published for decorative display. The fascination with chromos is apparent from the articles published in popular magazines of the period giving detailed information on the printing process, including an article from The Christian Weekly of 1874 and one from Demorest’s Family Magazine of 1892. 


Collecting Paper Ephemera: travel brochures, railway guides, cruise line booklets, railroad maps, trade catalogs and so much more

Paper ephemera (as in "ephemeral" or "transient") covers a very wide range of printed material: from theatre tickets to luggage labels to travel brochures to merchandise catalogs, the lists goes on and on. Usually printed in large quantities, meant to be used and then discarded, this area of printed material is often much harder to find than more conventionally "prized" items such as books. It can make a fascinating area of collecting in and of itself, or give breadth to a collection of varied materials on a particular theme (for example items from a particular railroad line).

While pre-1900 material has for some time been sought after, museums and libraries are increasingly aware of the special qualities of 20th century ephemera, and using it in museum exhibits and adding it to special collections. This material is often very graphically inviting, and conveys in word and image the world of popular culture of the day, with all its nuances. This area of paper memorabilia has always particularly appealed to me, as it encompasses so well my twin interests: great graphic design and insight into different cultures and times. 

Some types of paper ephemera that make for fascinating collections are:  trade or merchandise catalogs: if you have a vintage clothing collection, add some fashion catalogs to the mix!  transportation related ephemera: booklets and brochures from railroads, cruise lines, carriage or automobile makers (also included in the trade catalog category), aviation and airline pamphlets  travel brochures and guide books  ephemera with maps: usually also falling into the two categories above ... The maps are often graphically rich bird's eye view or pictorial maps  vintage posters: produced to advertise a product, be affixed where they can be seen and then thrown away.

Often ephemera will fold out into large and stunning posters and maps. These can be framed to striking effect. If the folds are a concern, consider having the item linen backed. This is a reversible mounting method (with acid free materials) commonly used with posters but which can also be used with folded pamphlets and brochures to make the folds all but invisible and enhance the graphic potential.



Fortune magazine, the premier American business magazine, was founded by Henry Luce in 1929 (with its first issue in February 1930) to celebrate American business: "American business has importance - even majesty - so the magazine in which we are able to interpret it will look and feel important - even majestic." Sparing no expense, he recruited the premier journalists, graphic designers and illustrators and created a magazine which is in the top ranks of twentieth century magazines in both content, graphic presentation and printing quality.

The stunning covers are collected for their striking graphics; we prefer to offer the complete magazines to collectors so as to preserve the intrinsic interest and value of the magazine. If you would like to display the cover of the magazine you might consider having the whole magazine framed - this way you get the best of both worlds! Well known illustrators who did covers for the magazine include: T.M. Cleland, Ernest Hamlin Baker, Diego Rivera, F.V. Carpenter, Roger Duvoisin, Bertha Lum, Antonio Petrucelli, Norman Reeves, Joseph Binder.

The most collectible Fortune magazine covers are from the early years of the magazine until the early 1940s. While there are many superior covers from the war years many of them have a more serious note, and were indeed excellent propaganda images. The magazine size was reduced due to the paper shortage during World War II and after the war there was more emphasis on content and less on lavish presentation.