Pictorial Map of North America
Margaret Whiting Spilhaus, London: 1930

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Map of North America
Map of North America detail
Map of North America detail
Margaret Whiting Spilhaus (1889-after 1971) (after)
North America
George Philip & Son, Ltd., London: c. 1930
40 x 30.5 inches overall
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Large and richly detailed historical pictorial wall map of North America, from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. The map shows Canada, the United States and Mexico, the islands of the West Indies, and most of Central America. Geographical features include states and provinces, outlined in red; rivers and major bodies of water; and major cities. The map is copiously labeled with the chief industries and products of each region, which are also illustrated with symbols (e.g. a gear for "machinery") and people at work. Surrounding the map are a large assortment of views and illustrations of historical events related to the exploration and settlement of the continent by people of European origin, with explanatory captions written in calligraphy within decorative circular emblems. Numerous inscriptions on the map itself also refer to milestones in the exploration of particular regions. Ships and sailboats are pictured in the oceans.

At the top center is a larger decoration incorporating three illustrations and a small inset map of the North Pole, within a border in the style of Northwest Coast Native American decoration. In the center of this decoration is a boat at sea with the inscription, "Giovanni Cabota (1497 1498) Italian Navigator, Under English Commission Sought the N.W. Passage & Discovered N. America." Beneath this illustration, the polar map is inscribed "Robert Peary, North Pole, Apl. 1909." On either side are illustrations of historical events: explorer Jacques Cartier reaching the site of present-day Montreal, and the mutiny by Henry Hudsonís crew in 1611. Top left is a historical note about Christopher Columbus within a fringed banner. Bottom center a large illustration within a Pre-Columbian style border shows Montezuma, "emperor of the Aztecs," receiving Fernando Cortes in 1519. In the lower right corner, a large seated figure of a Native American holds a peace pipe.

Margaret Whiting Spilhaus was a South African author of several historical books concerned with the Age of Exploration and colonial history and produced a series of pictorial maps of continents. Apparently she began her literary career writing and illustrating books for young children such as South African Nursery Rhymes (1924) and The Limber Elf (1926). She also published a craft book with designs for a cardboard dollhouse and furniture. Later titles include The Background of Geography (1935), First South Africans and the Laws Which Governed Them (1949), South Africa in the Making: 1652-1806 (1966), Pacific adventure: The story of the pilot Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, and the natural history book Indigenous Trees of the Cape Peninsula (1950) containing photographs by Dennis Wright of her collection of specimens. Her pictorial maps include Australia (c. 1927), Africa, North America (c. 1930), South America (c. 1933) and Pan Africa (c. 1943). Spilhausís papers are in the Manuscripts and Archives of the University of Cape Town Libraries.

Full publication information: "Designed by M. Whiting Spilhaus (1929-1930). Published by George Philip & Son, Ltd., 32 Fleet Street, London. Printed in Great Britain by George Philip & Son, Limited, London."


"Author names starting with Sp." New General Catalog of Old Books and Authors. January 2010. http://www.kingkong.demon.co.uk/ngcoba/sp.htm (28 January 2010).

"Spilhaus Family Papers." Manuscripts & Archives, University of Cape Town Libraries. http://www.lib.uct.ac.za/mss/index.php?html=/mss/newaids/BC319.HTM&libid=41 (28 January 2010).