Sydney Map Group: “Presented with our compliments” Souvenir Airline Maps from the Golden Age of Commercial Aviation
With Ralph E. Ehrenberg
Welcome aboard and enjoy the flight on Empire Flying Boats, de Havilland biplanes, Douglas DC-3s and similar vintage aircraft as we explore the world of souvenir maps issued by Ansett, Australian National, BOAC, Empire, Qantas, and other popular airlines. These complimentary route maps, created during the golden age of commercial aviation when air travel was novel, exciting, and not just another form of mass transit, instructed and entertained passengers during long flights before inflight audio programming and movies competed for their attention and wide-bodied airliners reduced the number of available window seats. Initially formatted as simple route guides, airline maps became increasingly complex in response to the introduction of higher performance aircraft and the creation of national and international airway infrastructures. Visually appealing cover art, innovative map design, and informative commentary added to their allure.
Ralph E. Ehrenberg retired last year as chief of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress. Recent publications include Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark (Levenger Press, 2015); Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography (National Geographic Society, 2005); and “Airline Map,” in The History of Cartography, Volume 6: Cartography in the Twentieth Century, (University of Chicago Press, 2015).