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Top 10 Kid Friendly Vintage Maps: Children's Room Decor

Anyone with kids is always keeping an eye out for decorative and inspiring wall decor for young minds. While posters and pictures of their favorite cartoon characters, sports teams and musicians is always an easy route to take, they typically do little to stimulate their imagination and provoke deep thought. One great way to overcome this is through maps, more specifically vintage maps that burst with historical content, artistry, and a focus on unique themes. We're here to help parents and family members of kids by listing our top ten kid friendly maps, designed to educate, stimulate, and inspire young and growing minds. 

1) The Land of Make Believe by: Jaro Hess, 1930  

The Land of Make Believe - Top Ten Kid Friendly MapsThe unique and imaginative work was original produced by the Czech-born artist Jaro Hess in 1930, whom was at the time of printing, living and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The depicts a marvelous wonderland including castles from many cultures as well as from his very own imagination. We see such familiar figures as the "Cow Jumping Over the Moon," "Jack the Giant Killer" climbing the Bean Stalk, "the Emerald City of Oz," the "Crooked Man in the Crooked House," and other fairytale favorites such as Hansel and Gretel, Little Bo Peep, Humpty Dumpty and Little Red Riding Hood, to name a few.

While this map is ideal for children ages 0 - 8, it is one that has been bought and loved by all ages. We have heard from many senior citizens who bought this map because an original once hung in their room as a child and that sort of nostalgia cannot be beat! 

Other notable mentions include...

2) A Good Natured Map of the United States by: Greyhoud Bus Lines, 1934

A Good Natured Map of the United States - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

It should be noted that maps from the past sometimes include imagery that does not fit within the frame of 21st century political correctness. However, for those that can enjoy works of art through a lens of historical context, there is much to be appreciated from maps such as this one by the Greyhoud Bus Lines. This pictorial map was designed to encourage would-be passengers to see the many natural, cultural, and historic sites of America by way of the open road. From lobster catching in New England to the silver screen of Hollywood, this map takes the viewer on a cross country journey through the United States, highlighting all the sites of 1930s America along the way, including the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago, the brand new Boulder Damn (now Hoover Dam) just outside of Las Vegas, and numerous national landmarks and parks. 



3) Pictorial Wildlife and Game Map by: Ira Moss, 1956

Pictorial Wildlife and Game Map - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

This map is ideal for any youngster of an avid hunting family or for those that simply love the great outdoors, ornithology and American wildlife. The map is absolutely loaded with game animals both large and small as well as a wide variety of birds. To help dissect the map, an index key at lower left lists coordinates for every national forest, represented by pine trees throughout, fifty-five game animals and sixty-eight birds, all with an identifiable number that corresponds to the images within the map. Surrounding the main map several small inset maps for nearly every game animal listed, showing their habitat and/or flight range within the continental United States. For many of the migratory bird species, the inset maps indicate (through shading) their locations during the summer and winter months.



4) Maps by the American Pioneer Trails Association 1940s-60s

The Lewis & Clark Expedition - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

For a span of just under 20 years during the mid-20th century, the American Pioneer Trials Association released a series of maps designed to commemorate the great explorers and trails of the American West. The maps are pictorial in their design and offer a lot to educate and inspire those that gaze upon them. The series included maps of Lewis and Clark expedition (1804 - 1806), The Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the Pony Express Route (April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861). The maps credit many other routes and explorers such as the Fremont Expedition, the Mormon Trail, the Overland Stage Route, and Coronado's March (1540-41) to name a few. Within these maps are a wide array of vignettes illustrating some noteworthy individuals, such as Sacajawea, Christopher "Kit" Carson, and Chief Kicking Bird of the Kiowa tribe. The maps are ideal for an child with an affinity for exploration and the "old west."   

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5) Albert Richard Football Map, 1939

Albert Richard Football Map - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

For the little sports enthusiast and athlete we recommend this enthusiastic map of the United States, celebrating College Football programs and universities from coast to coast. This pictorial map by Albert Richard bursts with pennants, megaphones, players in action, footballs, and the stadiums that hosted the five annual Bowl Games that included the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sun Bowl, and Rose Bowl. The map is surrounded first by crests and seals of various universities. In the yellow border are the names and positions of All-American Football players, listed under the University for which they played for previous 50 years. 

This is another one of those maps that is great for those young and old. Kids today may not be able to relate with the conferences of the late 1930s, but for those in their golden years, this map will bring them back to the days when College Football reigned supreme over the much smaller professional leagues.



6) Mid-Century Air Travel Maps by Pan-Am, Air France, Sabena, and Transports Aeriens Intercontinentaux

These maps were designed to inspire wanderlust among their viewers. By combining elements of 16th and 17th century cartography such as wind heads, sea monsters, and elaborate compass roses with the artistic style of mid-century artists such as Lucien Boucher, these maps are by far some of the most stylish cartographic works of the 20th century. They come in a number of forms with regards to world projections based around the locations served by the airline at the time of printing. Enticing imagery stands out to present cultures, internationally recognized landmarks, buildings, and other tourist attractions. The imagery of these maps makes it easy for children to inquire about them and want to learn more of these far away places. In more ways than one, these maps bring out the desire to travel and see all there is to see in the world. 

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7) An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland - newly discovered and set fourth by: Bernard Sleigh, 1918

An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland by Bernard Sleigh - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

Circling back to maps of pure imagination we present Bernard Sleigh's Anciente Mappe of Fairyland published at the end of WWI. The map is a wonderful marriage of European folklore, literature, fairy-tales, and Greek Mythology. As the eye moves from the dark stormy seas in the west towards the city in the east where they make snow and ice, one is likely to encounter the 'Cliffs of Giants,' 'valleys of fire' and 'dragons,' 'Rapunzel's Tower,' 'Hansel, and Gretel,' 'Ulysses's Ship,' 'Little Bo Peep,' 'Leprechauns,' the mythological Norse 'Hall of Valhalla,' 'Never-Never Land,' 'Little Red Riding Hood's house,' 'King Arthur's Tomb,' 'the Hydra,' 'Labyrinth,' 'Demeter,' and 'the Water Babies.' 

Just follow the red road "from the world,' or forge your own path. You are bound to unearth memories from early childhood stories or stumble upon a new wonder you've never heard of before. Either way, you will find yourself enjoying this map for hours on end and years to come. A great gift or addition to any child's room or play area.


8) Le Petit Journal Mappemonde By: F. Menetrier, 1900

Though less cartoonish than many of the other maps listed in our top ten, this map excels in presenting the human element of geography at the turn of the 20th century. Surprisingly, for its time of printing, it is very politically correct in depicting the various races of the world. Instead of simply labeling people Africans and Pacific Islanders, it provides nuance in differentiating between the various indigenous ethnic groups throughout the world. International shipping routes and delineated throughout and six views fill the spaces between the map and illustrations of the world's wide array of people. These views include the pyramids and sphinx of Egypt, Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and the Saint Lawrence River among others. Though it is mostly in French, it is quite easy to comprehend. The geo-political makeup of the world offers the opportunity for extracurricular study. This map is likely best for older kids with an interest in world cultures and history.    



9) Wild Bill Hickok Treasure Map by: Bob Glaubke, 1952

Wild Bill Hickok Treasure Map - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

What list of kid friendly maps would be complete without a treasure map? This map was produced as a promotional piece for the Wild Bill Hickok show that ran for eight seasons from April 15, 1951, through September 24, 1958. The map is loaded with imagery of the Plains Indians, Desperados, Bandits, Forty-Niners, Conquistadores, Buccaneers, and many other noteworthy individuals associated with buried treasure. Events and scenes are depicted from end-to-end and the entire map is surrounded by a decorative border with elements of the American West and the Caribbean Sea, where many of the stories of lost treasure originate. While this map does display scenes of violence, what quest for treasure doesn't involve some form of struggle and strife? Let this map be an inspiration for your child's imagination. Though none of the information provided will give them the exact whereabouts of these lost riches, it's a good starting point for any quest to find a buried treasure.



10) Le Tour du Monde en 120 Images Grand Concours & Grand Circuit Des Capitales Collection | Concours Du Chocolat Menier, 1956

Le Tour du Monde en 120 Images Grand Concours du Chocolat Menier - Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps

Two mid-century French maps of the World and Eurasia made for children who love chocolate! The original maps came with a section intended to be cut away and mailed in for a prize when all of the necessary stamps were attained through the purchase of.... you guessed it; chocolate. The maps offer a wide range of enticing imagery representing the human and animal world, as well as important landmarks, buildings, and cultural sites. A variety of ships roam the open sea that more imaginative imagery of mermaids and Poseidon riding at 17th century sea monster. Like many of our maps in this list, these maps earned the designation of "kid friendly" through the colors and design that evoke wonder among young minds that take the time to explore them from end to end.  

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Closing Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this writeup on our Top Ten Kid Friendly Maps. "Modern maps" as we refer to them span over five centuries and cover a wide range of subject matter. There are certainly many more cartographic works that do well to inspire young minds which were not included on this list. If you know of any that should have made this list, let us know by email or Facebook messenger. To learn more about these maps and others, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are ready and waiting to fulfill your cartographic needs.

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