Geographical passenger map of the Underground system, tipped into a contemporary guide book, 37 x 45 cm, printed in colours, trivial wear with short splits along the edge of a couple of folds, slight show through from the printing on the cover-side. Symbols show where to alight for the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, and travel information on the verso emphasises using the Underground for leisure activities such as visiting London Zoo or Hampstead Heath.
MacDonald Gill, brother of Eric, was a successful commercial artist in his own right, and a noted calligrapher who designed the font used on all headstones by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In the 1920s and 1930s London Underground favoured named designers over the anonymous draughtsmen who had created their earlier maps. Gill stripped away the remaining surface topography, including the Thames; although his calligraphy has a leisurely feel to it, he created a simple, practical map.
The map is lightly glued to the lower inside cover of the 1924 official London guide of the Residential Hotel Keepers’ & Caterers’ Association, a 96 page publication in colour printed wrappers: ‘what to see & where to stay for what you can pay’. For much of the 20th Century, London Transport and its predecessors seem to have been happy to distribute quantities of the official map at no charge (or a minimal one?) to commercial publishers to be bound into guide books. Presumably it was seen as free advertising. Some, as here, were the standard issue with text on the verso, as distributed to passengers; some were the normal issue but supplied flat, and folded differently to fit the format of the book; some were special guide book issues, supplied with a blank verso. Many have been removed from their original context over time, and it is interesting to note that it was not just major publishers such as Ward Lock who were able to obtain supplies of maps.