Lot 72 of 96:
Pictorial map of Chinatown in San Francisco 1939  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$2,000
$1,500 - $2,500

Chinatown San Francisco

Chun, Ethel

San Francisco

California Chinese Pioneer Historical Society



Color pictorial bird's-eye cartoon-style map, with inset location map. 41.5x54.2 cm (16x21¼"), plus margins, folding to 14x22 cm (5½x8¾").

Surprisingly rare pictorial map of Chinatown, issued at the time of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure island in San Francisco Bay, intended for tourists. On the back is printed text "The Story of San Francisco's Chinatown," along with descriptions of 33 "Interesting Spots in Chinatown." The piece was intended to be mailed, with spaces for outgoing and return addresses on one of the back panels, but it was never addressed or mailed. The artist of the map, Ethel Chun, was a native of Hawaii. She traveled to California in 1936 to study art at the Chouinard Art Institute. OCLC locates only one example of the map, at the University of California Berkeley.

After Chouinard Chun spent several months on the Mainland. The March-April 1939 issue of Chinese Digest published the following article: 
"First Colored Map of Chinatown Published San Francisco — An illustrated color map of Chinatown was published here last month, and marked the first publication of the recently organized California Chinese Pioneer Historical Society. Measuring 17 by 22 inches and lithographed in five bright colors, this is the first picture map every [sic] published here. It contains more than fifty illustrated figures, each showing a distinct phase of Chinatown life or an interesting locale.
"Interestingly enough, the drawing of the map was executed by an Honolulu Chinese artist, Ethel Chun. A graduate in liberal arts from the University of Hawaii, Miss Chun studied art for two years on a scholarship at the Charnard [sic] Art School in Los Angeles until about a year ago. Then, while on a visit to San Francisco she was asked by the California Chinese Pioneer Historical Society to draw a colored cartograph of Chinatown, giving not only its geography and interesting spots but also injecting into it human interest and humorous touches. The finished product showed artistry, imagination, and humor.
"Miss Chun has since returned home and is now teaching art in a high school on the island of Maui. On the back of the map is a 2,000 word guide to Chinatown, plus a check list of its most interesting places. It is thus a useful guide for Chinatown visitors and a good reference map for Chinatownians as well. 
"The California Chinese Pioneer Historical Society, publisher of this cartograph, is an organization devoted to the preservation, collection, and publication of data and history on the Chinese in this state. Its headquarters is located at 24 Old Chinatown. Its members are now preparing an exhibition of interesting California Chinese relics to be shown to the public soon."
Chun’s map was included in Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (2017) with this description: Above, Ethel Chun, Chinatown San Francisco, 1939, 41.5 × 54.4 cm. A well-known Hawaiian-Chinese artist, Chun created one of the most distinctive of all American pictorial maps. The map, sold to tourists, uses vibrant colors to reflect Chinese culture. Yellow is associated with prestige (the Chinese emperor's color) and the earth, hence the map’s yellow ground, while red represents good fortune.
Chun passed away on February 22, 1997, at her home in Honolulu. An obituary was published in the Honolulu Advertiser, March 3, 1997, and explained Chun’s role in her father and brother’s businesses and the development of the aloha shirt. 

Lot Amendments

Some light creasing, fine or nearly so.

Item number:
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