Catalog Archive
Auction 190, Lot 337

"What Do They Talk About?",

Subject: Britain

Period: 1951 (dated)

Publication: The Geographical Magazine

Color: Printed Color

17.4 x 26.1 inches
44.2 x 66.3 cm
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This bold pictorial map was created for the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition and fair that was intended to celebrate Britain and its recovery from World War II and help the British people forget the misery of the previous decade. This map is a guide to "local conversation gambits" and lists the topics of concern in various parts of Britain. The map was Cecil Walter Bacon's attempt to encourage his fellow British citizens to look toward the future and the positive momentum of the British economy. No cities are identified on the map, so one has to deduce where these topics are discussed based on geography and one's knowledge of the people in the area. The site of the Festival of Britain is shown in London, with illustrations of the Skylon and the Dome of Discovery, buildings constructed for the fair. Numerous industries are highlighted throughout the map, including factories, power stations, tourism, ship building, farming, etc. Many businesses had either ceased operations during the War or shifted to exporting their goods, and evidence of this is illustrated in the Speyside region of Scotland with the note "Whiskey for Dollars," as whiskey was sent abroad to reduce the balance of payments deficit. Of course more mundane topics are also presented, including the common British obsession with the weather.

Designed by Cecil Walter Bacon. Prepared under the direction of Professor E.G.R. Taylor for the Festival issue of Geographical Magazine, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society. It is interesting to note that the map was sponsored by Esso Petroleum Products, illustrating Esso's new Fawley Refinery, yet the map shows no roads. At the time, petrol was still rationed and was not even sold under brand names again until several years after this map was published. However major petrol companies were marketing their companies and trying to regain brand loyalty well in advance. Printed by Taylowe Ltd.

References: Bryars & Harper (History of 20th Century) p. 125; Rumsey #11513.

Condition: A+

A clean and crisp example, issued folding.

Estimate: $300 - $375

Sold for: $220

Closed on 11/16/2022