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Top five old novelty tube maps

Posted at 8:30 am, August 17, 2012 in Fun London, Top 5, Transport

Everyone likes a novelty poster campaign and the London Underground has had more than its fair share. Whether it’s been to promote merchandise or just put a smile on your face, dozens of these quirky posters have decorated the walls of our tube system for decades and we’ve put together our top five faves from the current Mind the Map exhibition for you to ogle and chortle at… Carly-Ann Clements

The Tate Gallery by tube by David Booth

1. The Tate Gallery by Tube,1987
This semi-abstract portrayal of the London Tube map was designed to boost travel to London’s Tate Gallery. Unsurprisingly, it is the best-selling Underground poster of all time.

I'd be lost without it artist unknown 1977

2. I’d be lost without it, 1977
You may see them in every novelty souvenir shop you pass nowadays, but this panel poster promoted not only the London Underground but the first official T-shirt featuring the Tube Map. It just shows you that not much has changed when it comes to advertising but it does say something about profit margins.

Be map-conscious by Lewitt-Him 1945

3. Be map conscious, 1944
With an increase of service men whom were unfamiliar with the Underground, London transport increased the number of directional posters in the tubes during World War II. Though you may be distracted with the abstract figure, some valuable advice has been imparted for the non-resident commuter.

London Transport presents a new line in stations artist unknown 1979

4. London Transport presents a new line in stations, 1979
It’s hard to imagine London life without the Jubilee line, but the line was only first introduced in 1979 – you might be surprised to know that in those days it would take you from Stanmore to Charing Cross! This light-hearted poster was part of a series using the slogan, ‘We’ll bring London to your door’.

Visit the empire by Ernest Michael Dinkel 1933

5. Visit the Empire by Ernest Michael Dinkel, 1933
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a cheat. This is a novelty map picturing the British Empire to encourage passengers to visit some of London’s culturally rich destinations. The images of distant colonies and the idea that they are all part of London may seem foreign now, but back in the 1930s it was something to be proud of.

These maps, plus many more, are displayed at the Mind the Map exhibition at the London Transport Museum.

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