An Eccentric Millionaire's 1875 Pork Map of the United States

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Jan. 31 2014 12:15 PM

An Eccentric Millionaire's 1875 Pork Map of the United States

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Blogger John Ptak recently included this delightful “Porcineograph” in a roundup of strange maps of the United States. The map was commissioned in 1875 by a former sewing-machine magnate, William Emerson Baker.

Baker, whose successful Grover & Baker Sewing Machine Company produced accessibly-priced units for home use, retired in 1868 at the age of forty. He moved to a large farm in Needham, Mass., which he transformed into an amusement park full of attractions and exhibits that expressed his radical political viewpoints. (The Needham Historical Society’s website has images of some of the former attractions at Baker’s Ridge Hill Farms, which has long since been sold and subdivided.)

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In the mid-1870s, Baker’s activist heart turned to the nascent Pure Food Movement, which lobbied for stricter regulations on food producers. (The movement was unsuccessful before Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published in 1906.) Baker became obsessed with hygienic farming. In 1875, he held a big party, with 2,500 attendees, to launch his “Sanitary Piggery,” a new kind of hog farm featuring ultra-clean housing and controlled diets. Because Baker was a man of many causes, the get-together also celebrated the centennial of the battle at Bunker Hill, and, through the invitation of Southern guests, advocated reconciliation of North and South.

This map, which focused on the porcine aspect of the party, was a souvenir for his guests. Its elaborate detailing included small illustrations of disputes over pigs that changed American legal history, tucked into the bottom corners. The map’s border celebrates pork dishes, or menus featuring pork dishes, that were emblematic to each state and territory. Interspersed with cavorting pigs are banners describing each menu.

Some are familiar, like the one for Massachusetts (“Pork and Beans, Fish Balls, Brown Bread and Cranberry Sauce”). Some contain dishes that were once familiar, and are now strange (Maine: “Lobsters, Cunners, Pork-Apple-Pie and Baked Indian”). Some must have been a reach, even then: “Alaska: Seal, Blubber, and Pork.” California: “Bear steaks, Grapes and Ham Sandwich.”

Click on the image below to reach a zoomable version, or visit the map's page on the Library of Congress' website.

PorcinegraphFinal
Porcineograph. Printed by Forbes Lith. Mfg. Co., Boston, ca. 1875.

Library of Congress, Popular Graphic Arts.

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