1914 Elsner Serio-Comic Map, Outbreak of World War I

Karikatur des Europäischen Kriegsschauplatzes. - Main View

1914 Elsner Serio-Comic Map, Outbreak of World War I


A Scarce Map from the Opening Days of World War I.


Karikatur des Europäischen Kriegsschauplatzes.
  1914 (undated)     14 x 14.25 in (35.56 x 36.195 cm)     1 : 14335000


A scarce 1914 serio-comic chromolithographic map from the early days of the First World War, printed by Fritz Elsner. Providing a German perspective on the conflict, it harshly denounces the country's enemies, including France, Britain, and Russia.
A Closer Look
Presenting Europe as a series of human and animal figures, the map depicts Germany and Austria-Hungary holding back invading French and Russian forces. This understanding of the conflict is highly partisan but reflects German fears of 'encirclement' in a two-front war and their rapid mobilization and deployment of troops in early August 1914. The images and text (written as poems) below the map celebrate the German cause ('Bring it on! Many enemies, much honor!') and give negative impressions of Germany's enemies. Both France and Russia are repulsed from their 'attacks,' with the Russian soldier depicted with a bottle of vodka in his pocket and a pack of wolves or bears at his back.

Belgium kneels facing Britain, imploring it for intervention, while the text below notes that it would have saved itself blood and money by allowing German troops to traverse it to attack France. The Brit is seen as a 'duplicitous boy' imprudently wading into the war. Particular ire is saved for Serbia, the 'source of the conspiracy,' to whom it is promised that: 'the German wave will not spare you, you evil wretch; remember this, don't forget it!' Other countries not participating in the war (or at least not yet) are also satirically depicted, with neutral Spain represented by Lady Justice holding a weighted scale, Ottoman Turkey lying down and smoking a pipe, and Italy closely eyeing developments to its east.
Chromolithography, sometimes called oleography, is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired product. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominant method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Publication History and Census
This map was printed by F. (perhaps Fritz) Elsner and published by F. Klotz and G. Cremer (the publisher's information seemingly trimmed off the bottom here). It is undated, but from context likely dates from the opening weeks of the conflict in August 1914. The map is quite rare, not being listed in any institutional collections and only appearing on the market twice in recent years.


Very good. Light foxing. Several small tears professionally repaired.


OCLC 1199030381.