Sewall’s Pictorial Plan of Beijing


Peking – A Pictorial Map of Peiping in full colours

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Quick Description


Sewall’s Pictorial Plan of Beijing


SEWALL, John Kirk


Peiyang Press Ltd

Place of publication

Beijing, Tianjin

Date of publication




Printed Area Measurements

60 x 50 cm [sheet size]

Full Description

Pictorial folding plan of Beijing, sheet size 60 x 50 cm, printed in colours, blank verso; loosely inserted into soiled wrappers bearing the alternative name Peiping, which Sewall appears to use interchangeably with Peking. Peiping (or Beiping) are the romanised forms of the name adopted by the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party of China, which moved the capital to Nanking in 1928.

The map itself is known in variants featuring either name. More accurate dating can be gleaned from the use of the flag of the Nazi regime on both the German and Austrian Legations, making this version of the map post Anschluss. Earlier versions of the map feature the black-white-red imperial tricolour reintroduced by Germany 1933-35, which suggests that the map was originally drawn in the mid 1930s. It is partially bilingual, with some names given in English and Chinese, but almost certainly aimed at western visitors. Sewall captures some aspects of the modernisation of the post-imperial city, such as the opening of the public parks in the grounds of the Winter Palace and the new public swimming pool. The bright colours and silhouette figures, mostly depicting traditional trades and dress but interspersed with trains and motor cars, make no reference to a turbulent era in Beijing’s history, when the city was the capital of a Japanese puppet regime.

Sewall was an American illustrator; Worldcat identifies two other books he illustrated, both printed in China in the mid 1930s: ‘The Chinese Festive Board’ and ‘My Sew-sew Amah Says’. The Peiyang Press appears to have published a number of maps and books catering for westerners including sightseeing and shopping guides and phrase books in various languages, as well as more scholarly or eclectic material such as books about Buddhism and gyroscopes.