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Oil Company Road Maps

Road maps have been around longer than the automobile, but it was the advent of the motor car that spurred the publication of maps that were particularly useful for long distance travel. Through the first two decades of the 20th century most of these maps were distributed by the map publishers themselves, but by the 1920s distribution had moved to the oil companies, which had found road maps to be an excellent and inexpensive form of advertising.

Initially, the covers of road maps were rather mundane, but as the use of maps as advertising media gained importance, so too did the cover artwork. The golden era for cover art on American road maps encompassed roughly from the late 1920s to the beginning of World War II. Thousands of spectacular designs were produced, covering every state in the Union.

In virtually all cases the cartography itself was prepared by companies which specialized in map making, most commonly by Rand McNally and Goushá (pronounced goo-SHAY), but also to a lesser extent by General Drafting, Mid-West Map, Clason, Highway Map Co., and others. (Even Jeppesen, best known for their aeronautical charts, dabbled in automobile road maps for a time.) The design and artwork of both the covers and the interior were customized to the specifications of the individual oil companies.

Even after the oil companies became the major distributors of road maps, some of the map makers—most notably Rand and Goushá—continued to distribute maps under their own names.

Illustrated here are some 80 different New Mexico maps from no fewer than 31 different companies. Keep in mind that this is just a small sample of the hundreds of different maps that were produced for this state alone. Click on any company name below to see full-color photographs of examples of maps from that company.
 
(See also Official N.M. State Highway Department Road Maps)
 
AAA   Bareco   Chevron   Clason Map
             
     
Conoco   Corypenn   Cosden   Derby
             
         
Douglas   D-X    Enco    Firestone
             
     
Goushá Gulf  Highway Map Company  Humble 
             
Malco    McNutt    Mid-West Map Company    Numex
             
Phillips 66    Rand McNally   Richfield    Scholts Mutual Drug 
             
   
Shell    Sinclair    Skelly    Southern Pacific RR 
             
     
Sovereign Service    Standard Oil Company   Texaco    Union 76 
             
         
U.S. Highway 60 Associaton    Vickers        

 

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