Intourist:Map of the Moscow Metro (Subway) – The Moscow Metro. Moscow: Editions Vnechtorgisdat, Moscow Seventh Printery, 1935-36. Map 18.5 x 8.5 cm, printed in two colours, blank verso; no printer or place of printing but almost certainly issued with a 24 page English language Intourist booklet published in Moscow by Editions Vnechtorgisdat, to commemorate the opening of the Moscow Metro.
The map is folded and has an additional crease, bottom right; the booklet, in gold-coloured wraps and containing numerous sepia-tinted illustrations, has a small nick at the foot of the front cover and slight rusting to staples.
The booklet extols the wonders of the Moscow Metro with its magnificent marble-clad ‘underground palaces’ which were ‘built by the workers for the workers’, all at ‘record speed’ to create ‘the best in the world’. Hyperbolic prose, but celebrating a remarkable engineering feat. The map is described by Mark Ovenden (Metro Maps of the World, 2003) as a ‘rare and flimsy English diagram’, which was then ‘believed to stem from an American tourist publication of 1935/36 celebrating the system’s opening’. We are now able to place it in context as an official publication. It is one of the first maps of the Moscow Metro, and almost certainly the earliest in English. It shows the first phase of construction, the original 13 stations which opened in 1935. It predates the opening of Kiyevskaya Station in March 1937, and this example appears to have been acquired by a British traveller to the USSR in December 1936, giving us a cut off point which agrees with both Ovenden and the internal evidence from the map.