If you look at a collage map illustration, you’ll see that they’re not entirely geographically accurate. They might have the general shape and scale right, but the minute measurements might not actually add up. That’s kind of the point, as they’re not designed to be used for navigation, but for information.
Take, for example, a map acquired from the Geographicus Rare and Antique Maps collection from 1917, around the first days when people were getting familiar with many a collage map illustration, and the like. According to Geographicus Rare and Antique Maps, this particular piece is one of the earliest modern pictorial maps they’ve ever come across, and it’s so old as to require further verification regarding its mapmaker, one H.G. Hanot.
The team, however, have noted that the map’s size, and its origin date, says plenty about what the map is for. The map, laid on linen, is about 3×4 ft, meaning it’s big enough to be mounted on a showroom wall or the like. As for the map itself, it’s a map of the world which notes where animals hail, effectively being a map of the furs of the world. It also had shipping routes, so that people looking for furs can figure out where they can get fur. This particular map, simply put, was a marketing tool used to help furriers sell their wares, and a symbol of the historical popularity of fur.
In the early 20th century, the popularity of fur was growing thanks to the influence of the wealthy and the powerful, as well as Russia. World War I and the winters that followed immediately helped fur grow, as soldiers and civilians found themselves staying warm and insulated thanks to fur.
Fur, back in those days, was a bit more accessible, with rabbit, squirrel, skunk, and muskrat used for less-expensive products. All in all, furriers were working hard to convince shoppers that their fur products weren’t just for keeping warm, but were worthy of investing into, even if they have to tighten their belts a bit. As World War I was closing, they were pitching to customers, saying that fur was long lasting, functional, warm, durable, and easily adjustable to meet with the times. Maps like this show good insight into the times, and this map, made early in the 1900s, show how popular furs were.