1939 ‘Map of Physics’
“Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring sould who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip.”
This map by German illustrator Alphons Woelfle (1938) shows the extent and the divisions of Bücherland (the Land of Books). The Land consists of about half a dozen distinct territories, most of which are explicitly named: Leserrepublik (Reader’s Republic), Vereinigte Buchhandelsstaaten (United States of Booksellers), Recensentia (a realm for Reviewers), Makulaturia (Waste Paper Land), and Poesia (Poetry). The capital of the US of B is the city of Officina (Latin for workshop, and the origin of our ‘office’; the name seems remarkably unremarkable. Possibly there is an old reference or a German word-joke here we’re not getting).
Plotting out imagined places on a map as if they were “real” countries is a favorite trope in curious cartography. The artificial equation of place and meaning allows for double-entendres and other humorous leaps of the imagination on which this allegorical form of cartography thrives.