Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Old "New" Map Charts Europe's Current Financial Woes

by Stephen J. Gertz

Seignor Italy continues to  enjoy la dolce far neite despite obvious pressures to do something, anything; niete has gone too far. Señora Spain is smoking a cigarette during  a siesta, off to the side as if the Pyrenees offer protection from the rest of Europe's woes. As a measure of how lame it has become, Greece is lumped in with and indistinguishable from the Balkan nations and is crushed under the weight of her prosperous neighbors to the north, France and Germany, who dominate the Continent as Ottoman Pashas in tricorn and Pickelhaube. Speaking of which, Turkey calmly watches from the sidelines as a houri in repose lazily smoking a hookah. Debt is not the only thing higher than a kite; ambitious pipe-dreams cloud the upstart's waking hours. Great Britain, by the way, is  an island with its own problems and glad to not be a part of Europe's.


No, 1870.

In that year, French illustrator and caricaturist Paul Hadol (1835-1875) created Nouvelle carte d'Europe dressée pour 1870, a biting satire of the Franco-Prussian War that has endured as a comic masterpiece representing the ferocious power politics of contemporary Europe, caricaturing the Continent's national stereotypes. While the map is undated, it was undoubtedly published in the wake of the fall of Louis-Napoleon III and the Second French Empire in September 1870 after  his surrender to the Germans at the Battle of Sedan.

Only 20 centimes at the time of its publication, a genuine copy (not reprint) in very good condition of the 1870 first issue now costs approximately $3,000.

Got the shorts? Borrow the money from Greece. If they can't loan it to you, ask Angela Merkel. If she's not home, call Sarkozy. If he's cozy with Carla, give Ben Bernanke a buzz. If Big Ben's a bust, there's always Warren Buffet. He won't bail you out but he's got a rule, so if there's any fairness left in the world you'll have a little extra dinero in your pocket at his and Donald Trump's expense.

In Hadol's map, Trump's the guy with the weird hair posing as the King of Denmark and firing everyone, another delusional monarch whose time has come and gone.

[MAP - POLITICAL SATIRE - EUROPE]. Nouvelle carte d'Europe dressée pour 1870. Paris: Imprimerie Vallee, n.d. [1870]. Hand-colored lithographed map, 24.5 x 38.5 cm, on sheet with text (42 x 58.5 cm). 

See: Dormeier, Humoristisch-Satirishe Europakarten von 1848 bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg..., pp. 525-542, no. 3.

Image courtesy of Asher Rare Books, with our thanks.

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