Fake and reproduction road maps
Road maps issued by petrol and oil companies are not, in general, terribly valuable. Although individual maps may occasionally be sold for a few tens of dollars (or Pounds), many still go for just pennies. As such there is little incentive for anyone to produce forgeries, fakes or even reproductions. Indeed, the only reproduction maps that I know of are an Esso map of Cuba and a 1924 Standard Oil Company (Crown gasoline & Polarine oils) of Mississippi. The Cuba map was produced as an exercise in nostalgia for US citizens who had once lived in Cuba, prior to the Castro regime. It was not aimed at map collectors, although occasionally I hear of a disappointed collector who has bought what they believed to be an original map, but ended up with the copy. Little is known about the Mississippi map, except that it was officially sanctioned by Rand McNally, the original cartographer, and may have been printed in the 1970s.
As far as I am aware, all the maps shown on this website are genuine, except for two....
One is the Error '404' map that appears if you ask for a non-existent web page - it seems appropriate somehow to show you a non-existent map instead. The other is shown below, as I feel that there ought to have been a scenic Esso map of Zermatt, with a beautiful Alpine cover....
The Esso map here is a fake. I took a genuine 1950s Esso map of Switzerland, with a photographic cover of Ancona, and replaced the picture with that of a genuine 1949 Kümmerley & Frey map of Zermatt and the tourist area of the Gornergrat. This image of the Matterhorn had a scenic cover not unlike those of certain Esso maps, although it was drawn as far back as 1934 by "D.B." By fairly laborious work, I was even able to use the original lettering, but with the colours re-filled into typical Esso colouring.
Esso almost always used Kümmerley & Frey for its Swiss maps, so it's highly possible that they could have recycled an old design onto a later Esso map. (General Drafting Co did the same with the Esso Williamsburg map, and the Esso-Creole Caracas map, both of which re-used cover pictures drawn for other customers, but that's another story...) But on the other hand, Zermatt is a car-free resort, which makes it improbable that there would ever have been an Esso station there!
Non-petrol company maps
There is an honourable tradition of reproducing Victorian one-inch Ordnance Survey maps of the UK, to allow people to compare the area in which live with the same area over 100 years ago. These are unlikely to be confused with the original map. Michelin have also occasionally produced reproductions of their maps showing wartime battlefields or the Normandy landings. Again these are clearly marked and should be readily identifiable as a reproduction map.
This map may be a little harder to spot. Original 1930s maps from the Continental tyre company in Germany are not that hard to find, but even so someone has recently produced a reproduction of their title covering the whole of Germany at a scale of 1:1,500,000. This example, when advertised on eBay in 2004, was clearly marked as a reprint, but in a few years time these may re-surface in slightly more worn condition and be hard to tell from original maps.
Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2001-13
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