[2 Pictorial World Maps published for the centenary of the Red Cross]


A pair of Swiss pictorial maps designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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World Red Cross Map Published for the Centenary of the Birth of the Red Cross Idea, 1859 – 1959. Designed by Publicite Grutter S.A. in Geneva and printed in Switzerland by Kummerly & Frey c. 1959. Sheet size: 37.5” x 22.25” Very good condition. Professionally restored and mounted on linen. Faint wear along fold lines and several repaired tears remain visible, but only slightly. Not in Rumsey and only three listings in OCLC.

Centenary of the Red Cross Foundation, 1863 – 1963. Designed by Hugo Wetli and printed in Switzerland by the firm of Kummerly & Frey. Sheet size: 31.5” x 21.5” Excellent condition. Mounted on linen with just a few small bubbles visible under the surface of the sheet. Not in Rumsey or OCLC.

This is a fantastic pair of maps designed to celebrate major milestones in the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). While most are familiar with the American Red Cross, it is but one of dozens of regional affiliates of the much larger global organization. These maps were published by the Geneva branch when it was known as The League of Red Cross Societies.

The ICRC was first conceived by a Swiss businessman, Henri Durant, while he was traveling in Italy to discuss business with emperor Napoleon III. He arrived in Solferino on June 24, 1859, and witnessed the last major battle in world history where all the armies were under the personal command of their monarchs.

Durant was aghast at the casualties, thousands of whom were left to languish and die, alone, on the battlefield. He organized local relief efforts and wrote extensively about the experience, but it was not enough. Back home in Geneva, he joined members from four other leading Swiss families to organize the “International Committee for Relief to the Wounded” in 1863, which had its inaugural international conference that same year. The first meeting saw 36 attendees from a variety of various governments, businesses, and unaffiliated organizations. The following year, the conference was sponsored by the Swiss government, and the first Geneva Convention was signed by representatives of 12 states and kingdoms.

Since then, the ICRC has been awarded three Nobel Peace prizes (including one in 1963), expanded into over 80 countries, employs nearly 20,000 people and enlists nearly 100 million volunteers to help fulfill the original mission envisioned by Henri Durant (though interestingly, he was kicked out of the organization in 1876 due to his failed business dealings, largely as a result of his attention and focus on the Red Cross).

Such rapid expansion and international growth are the themes presented within these two maps. The first, issued in 1959, was designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary since Durant conceived the idea of the Red Cross on the battlefield of Solferino. An image of the founder can be seen in the lower right. Icons for Red Cross, Crescent (the Red Cross symbol used in Islamic societies) and Red Lion (only in Iran) show the international composition, while additional symbols for unrecognized societies reflect the ongoing growth of the organization. Illustrated profiles of people from around the world, a border of flags of participating countries, and a diverse array of photographs reinforce the notion that the ICRC is a global force for good.

The second map, issued to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Red Cross, shares many characteristics with the first. A portrait of Durant is seen at the top, and numerous flags indicate the global participation in Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Lion societies. The illustrations are a bit darker, showing those same local populaces from around the world, but this time in the context of their given needs. Medical assistance, food parcels, sanitation, and oversight of prisoners of war are just a few services rendered in these drawings.

A comparison between the two maps show that in just 4 years, the ICRC added over a dozen recognized affiliates and more than 23 million additional volunteers. Numerous versions of these maps were also published locally by regional affiliates of the Red Cross.

Price is for the pair. Please send me an inquiry if you’re interested in purchasing one of the two.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1959 and 1963

Author: League of Red Cross Societies - Geneva

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Condition: A-

Condition Description: Both maps are in excellent shape, having been professionally restored and mounted on linen. Faint wear remains visible on the fold lines, and a few tears in the edges have been closed by the repairs. Further details and dimension are available in the map description.


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