March 11, 2008

Freaking Out Children Since The 1930's: The Land Of Make-Believe Map By Jaro Hess


In 1930, Czech artist Jaro Hess' painting, "Adventure in Storyland," which offered a dazzling Grand Unifying Theory of the world's fairy tales, was turned into a poster by The Child's Wonderland Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's been reissued by various companies over the years; apparently the copyright's currently held by Hagstrom Map Company, who licensed it to Rosen-Ducat, who's reprinting it again.

It all sounds so straightforward now, but maybe that's because I haven't spent years since my childhood trying to track this thing down, like DT reader Chris did:

My mom bought this amazing giant map/poster of "The Land of Make Believe" around 1970, and I grew up with it hanging on my bedroom wall. The scenes
and characters from it are etched in my brain, although sadly Mom gave it
away to a daycare center when I was 10 or so. (About once a year since
1997 or so, I've done Google and eBay searches, and I always ask in poster
shops if anyone had ever heard of the poster - since I didn't know the
name of the illustrator - just that it was lebeled "The Land of Make
Believe")...It's neat to see something like this where the characters
come from a time before Disney "standardized" all fairy tale imagery. Of course I've ordered a reprint, so I can at least give my younger son the same nightmares I had...
Disney or Shrek.

RDI sells two 24.5 x 36-in. versions of "The Land of Make-Believe," $65 or $95, depending on the type of paper. The freak-out effect is probably the same. [ via basic joy, thanks dt reader chris]


Where can I see a bigger version of this poster? I want to check it out more before freaking out my kids :)

[RDI has some detail shots of the reprint, and basic joy has some details of her original, 1930 edition. -ed.]

My pediatrician had this in his office back in the early 70s--I'd forgotten about it until now. Nice to see it again! (By contrast, the office of my sons' pediatrician has paintings of psychotic-looking clowns, painted I think by the doctor himself. I won't be looking for reproductions of those any time soon.)

Thanks, I didn't catch the image gallery the first time. It's very cool! But I'm not sure I'm up for $65 for a poster at this point.

Dear Lord... forgot that I had one of these bad boys when I was little. I wonder what happened to it?

reminds me of Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights

[another nursery classic! -ed.]

There was an indie rock band from Athens, Georgia that used part of the poster as album art for an album called When the Red King Comes. It's has a great Brian Eno cover and some great originals, too.

I have an original of this poster that my Father bought from an auction. I had it archivally framed when I inherited it. My 4 year old daughter has it in her bedroom and she loves it. There is another version of this theme that I saw in an old movie once and I have been looking for that version ever since. I hope to have a matching pair one day. I am glad to see that someone found some background on it. I have never been able to track down any information on it.

My mother bought this land of make believe picture from a rummage sale and it looks really old it is copywrited 1930 by Jaro Hess and it also says the childs wonderland company from GRAND RAPIDS mICHIGAN, CAN SOMEONE TELL ME IF THIS PRINT IS WORTH MONEY BECAUSE i SEEN ONE ON EBAY FOR 3,500 DOLLARS, I LOVE THE PRINT I JUST WANTED TO KNOW HOW MUCH ITS WORTH.

well, if it didn't sell on eBay, you know it's worth less than $3500. You could try listing it with a low starting bid and a very high reserve price, and see what people will bid.

I had this Jaro Hess posterover my bed from 1935 to 1945 & would walk through it every night before going to bed. It was the most stimulating illustration of all my childhood. In 1958 I found a copy of it in a Madison Avenue print shop & bought it for my newly-born nephew, but his parents never put it up in his room and lost it. I'd love to find a copy again & would willingly buy it if anyone knows where one could be found.

have this same print published by the childs wonderland co. Apparently there were many versions and each time it was printed something little changed. On earlier prints like ours the "Wandering Jew" is there and on later ones they took off the Jew part and just have "Wanderer" Also took off the 1930 just below his name in the schroll on the left bottom corner. The Publisher also seems to change. Originally it was published by Jaro Hess and then Childs Wonderland Co. and then The Dickenson Bros. This Piece has a story and its very fascinating. I am trying to research the history. One of the first prints is now being offered on ebay for $4999.00. Then a later one is on there for $500. Your guess is as good as mine how much this could be worth and when it was reprinted. Sometime between 1930 & 1958. And is probably worth around $3000 or so. Just hang on to it! Its cool to own such a famous piece of art with a story like this.
please let me know if you found out anything else about it.

I have a original that i found in a attic of a house we moved into in 1970..
In early 80s my mom gave it to my little sister and paint the frame purple..Ilater took it back when isaw it years later.Had a little (very very small strokeof pait that elasped the frame on one stroke...And the Mo Moo bird even when iwas young bit of the beak is missing..But all in all in good shape..Always been intrested in it ..Now withthe power of the internet i see it has special historic value as i always thought it would..
Thank You...Freddy Rosano

I had this picture hanging in my bedroom since 1950. I passed it down to each of my four children and ultimately my youngest child now 29 has it in her child's bedroom. My oldest son was wandering through Rand McNalley bookstore in Denver when he located the posters. We purchased every poster that they had left (either 5 or 6). At the time, they were priced under $10. One hangs in my office. I am a pediatric speech/language pathologist and the children are delighted with it. The others I have given as baby gifts. I am having additional grandchildren and would love to find others. I look forward to hearing from you if others are located.

"Freak out," with its distressing implications, doesn't do justice to this delightful, lively, charming poster that will enrapture a child's imagination.

Was your pediatrician's name Dr. Carnaggio? I have one that my parents gave me in the 1950s. I spent hours and hours imagining being in the picture and visiting all of the neat places. The only other place I have ever seen one was at my pediatrician's office in Birmingham. I was never afraid of any of it, just enchanted.

I owned a copy of this when I was a kid in the early 1960s. I remember that in my version there was also an area called "The Graveyard of Derelict Ships" or something similar. That was the first time I'd ever seen the word "derelict" and I always think of this map when I see or use it! Does anyone have this section on their version. The poster doesn't seem quite "complete" to me without it!

This picture hung in my pediatrician's office in Washington DC in the 1950's. It always creeped me out a bit, maybe because I was so afraid of the doctor... Was glad to rediscover the image after so many years.

I had this poster in my room when I was a child in the mid 70's. I now have a daughter of my own and above all other art we had this one stands out. I would love to find a vintage copy to put in her playroom. The re-prints seem brighter and smaller than I remember.

Until they create true reprints I will keep my eyes on ebay.

Thank you for all the information, its good to be reunited with an old friend.

My grandfather gave me the "wandering Jew" (1930) version around 1951, and it hung above my bed until I was 13 - and it was also in the waiting room of my pediatrician's office in Houston. I followed the path around the countryside often, imagining being in the picture - it inspired my love of reading, maps, and travel to exotic places. My younger sister took it off to school but I recovered it years later. It has been re-framed and hangs in my guest room for 30 years, where it still enthralls adults and kids alike. I am very glad to know its history and learn how many other "grownups" still hold it dear.

I have one of these prints and I think its amazing! I'm sadly selling it on eBay from today!!! its a third edition 1935 and has fold lines and a few small holes but they cant be seen when its up and the colours are still very bright.

Jaro Hess is actually my great-uncle and my father gave me a reproduction of this fabulous poster after I had my first child. 3 kids later I still have the poster on the nursery wall, near the changing table. The kids are fascinated with it (freaking out might come later in therapy). My daughter even named the mermaids after me and my 2 sisters.

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