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1933 Williams Allegorical Map of the World

Civilization Struggles Between Extravagance and Depression - Main View

1933 Williams Allegorical Map of the World


An allegorical map of the Civilization torn between Extravagance and Depression at the height of the Great Depression.


Civilization Struggles Between Extravagance and Depression
  1933 (dated)     15.5 x 11 in (39.37 x 27.94 cm)


This is a 1933 John Scott Williams allegorical map of the world highlighting the struggle between extravagance and depression at the height of the Great Depression. Drawn in an Art Deco style, Civilization, illustrated as a man superimposed over the Earth, stands at the center in a position reminiscent of a crucifixion and is flanked by Extravagance and Depression. Extravagance, on the left, is showering himself in gold coins, while Depression is hiding his eyes and commanding a gigantic Octopus to drag Civilization down into the depths.
Wealth in 1933
The cover story associated with the article, entitled 'Is the World Bankrupt?' attempts to analyze government finances on a global scale and comments on the increasing prevalence of governments relying on national debt to sustain themselves rather than increased taxation or cuts to spending. One factor that the author, Viscount Snowden, points to is the increase in spending on global militaries, even after the horrors of the 'war to end all wars', or as we remember it today World War I. This likely means that the accompanying cover illustration is not meant to be interpreted as a commentary on personal finance but on global government spending.

If this interpretation is followed, Depression is in fact a personification of the global financial crisis, which is pulling Civilization down into the depths of unknown suffering. Extravagance, perhaps, relates to the idea that governments can simply continue to spend money however they see fit in the current world order, because a country not paying its debts is no longer shameful, but commonplace.
Publication History
This allegorical map was drawn by John Scott Williams and published on the cover of the Sunday, October 22, 1933 edition of the New York Herald Tribune Magazine.


John Scott Williams (August 18, 1877 - November 1975) was an English artist active in the United States. Born in Everton, Liverpool, England, Williams immigrated to the United States in 1885 and studied nights at the Art Institute of Chicago. While attending the Art Institute, Williams worked as a photographic retoucher and commercial artist. After graduating, Williams worked for the New York Herald Tribune from 1927 - 1934. His work also appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and Collier's. He served as head of the fine arts department at Wyoming State University from 1948 - 1952 and also organized the American Artists' Professional league, serving as the organization's president from 1955 - 1957. He married Clara Elsene Peck, a fellow artist with whom he collaborated often, in 1906, with whom he had two children. Williams and Peck divorced in 1930, and Williams married Mina Van Bott later that same year on June 30, 1930 in Leonia, New Jersey. Williams died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in November 1975. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Even overall toning. Newsprint. Front page of newspaper. Text on verso.