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 protected].
 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.