Missouri Pukes and Illinois Suckers: a 'Pignominious' Map of the States
A splendid example of ge-hog-raphy
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Last April, this blog discussed a map, dating from 1875, that showed the lower 48 states of the US in the shape of a hog: [T]his must be the world’s finest - and possibly only - example of sustained porcineography. (see #511). How wrong, how fortunately, gloriously wrong! Here is another fine example of pig-inspired cartography.
This map, published a few years later in 1884, may have been inspired by that previous example of 'gehography'. For it is another brightly-coloured depiction of the US’s continental land mass - dominated by pigs. But unlike the 1875 map, this one does not go for the whole hog, so to speak.
The map’s link to Sus domesticus  is via the company that produced it: H.W. Hill & Co. This Decatur, Illinois outfit were the sole manufacturers of Hill’s hog ringers, Hill’s triangular rings, calf and cow weaners, stock markers &c. On the map, we see one pig per state or territory, each with one of H.W. Hill’s trademarked triangles through its nose.
But that is as far as product placement goes. Even though it was printed in [H.W. Hill’s] own advertising department, the map is a deft example of oblique advertising - a clear-cut case of 19th-century viral marketing.
For its main attraction were not H.W. Hill’s markers, weaners and rings. It was mailed out - for five one-cent stamps - as a tableau entitled: “Nicknames of the States”. It’s always interesting, and perhaps a little titillating, to see what names you’re being called by others, and to know how to return the mockery . And it helps that all involved are portrayed as that most unloved of domestic animals, the pig.
For us, the map holds one extra appeal: in the almost 130 years since its publication, the nickname landscape has shifted somewhat. A few have remained popular, but many have fallen into disuse. Curiously, next to the sobriquets that are insults or compliments, a few are merely descriptive, and some states and territories don't even get one. Somehow, that feels like the worst option.
As the states and territories are not all rendered anatomically correctly, and in compensation for low legibility, I include a list of the states' proper names as well as their nicknames:
Many thanks to Tyler House and Seth Levy for sending in this beautiful map, found here at the Library of Congress, where a massive, 163 Mb version can be downloaded. Anyone need pig-themed, slightly non-pc wallpaper?
Strange Maps #549
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
 So called if considered as a separate species; the domesticated pig is sometimes also taxonomised as a subspecies of the wild boar, Sus scrofa. It is then called Sus scrofa domesticus.
 A surprisingly frequent trope in cartography. For a modern version of neighbourly invective splashed onto maps, go to #483.
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