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This is the 19th in a series of short reviews of National Geographic Magazines as they become a century old.

This issue mainly concerns Mexico.  The first three articles are about it as well as a map supplement with overview.



The first article, entitle “The Luster of Ancient Mexico” deals mainly with the Aztec civilization.  It starts with a geographic overview of the area around Mexico City: The mountains, valley and lakes.  It then goes into a brief history of the Aztecs, and their predecessor the Toltecs.  Their civilization is described, second hand from the Spanish, including their architecture, agriculture, commerce, warfare, religion including human sacrifice and finally their day to day life.  Of its 22 photographs, nine are full page (i.e. no article text, just captions).

The second article entitled “The Treasure Chest of Mercurial Mexico” centers on the city of Guanajuato in the silver mining region of the county.  It describes the author’s visit there and the region’s history, many churches, and its people.

One troubling passage in the article states that the “Mexican peon knows that he is born to serve, as did the old southern darky, and caste or class distinction is emphasized on all occasions”.  Of its 32 photographs, a whopping 25 of them are full page.

The third article entitled “The Venice of Mexico” returns us to the capital city but in the present.  While in the time of the Aztecs the city was surrounded by lake water with many marshes and canals, the present day city is miles from the shoreline.  The people that live around the lakes do give a glimpse into what it was like back then.  The canals and bridges, boat traffic, and the floating gardens are all described in detail.  Of this articles 20 photographs, 13 are full page.


Following the third and last article on Mexico there is a brief overview of the Map Supplement of Mexico.  Its size and scale are described.  Distance comparisons to places in the United States are also given and Extra copies on paper, linen, and rollers are advertised.  Here is the Map courtesy of Philip Riviere:


Note: This was the third supplement map of Mexico in a five-year span.  The first, in 1911, mainly showed railways throughout the county.  The second, in 1914, was a revision to that map including proposed future expansion of those railways.  This issue's map is, by far, the most detailed of the three.

The final article in this issue “Notes on the Danish West Indies” discusses the pending purchase of these islands by the United States.  Their area was measured by the National Geographic Society at 132.47 square miles.  The agriculture and industry of the three main islands are discussed as is their history and people.  Today we know these islands as the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Three of the five illustrations are full page with one of them being a map of the Caribbean on page 93.

Photo courtesy of Philip Riviere.

Not an article per se, but an advertisement, there is a four page story immediately after the Campbell’s Soup ad opposite the end of the last article.  It is entitled “The Taming of Caoutchouc”.  It was written for, and copyrighted by, The United States Rubber Company.

The other name for Caoutchouc is rubber.  Rubber’s short history is detailed (Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization in 1839, less than 80 years before this issue).  This non-article contains four small hand-drawn illustrations.

Tom Wilson

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Note: I just added a map references by the last article in this review.  (Thanks Phil.)



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