National Geographic Society Maps

Some of the most popular collectible maps are those issued as supplements to National Geographic Magazine. Not only are these maps widely accessible, making it easy to start a collection, they are also universally recognized as outstanding examples of the cartographer’s art.

The National Geographic Society, established in 1888 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., has always been known for the fine maps in its publications, although in its early years, the Society didn’t actually make its own maps; it distributed maps published by government agencies or other map makers. In 1915 the Society formed a map department and ever since has been producing and distributing its own maps. Today it prints millions of copies of each of its maps.

Through about 1920 the maps were lightly glued inside the front cover of the magazine and disbound copies may show traces of this glue. Since that time, the maps have simply been inserted into the magazine.

From the beginning the Society has dated its maps, usually with the month and year of issue, but sometimes with the year alone. In a few cases, the date on the map is different from the date on the magazine. Through the 1942 map of the Pacific Ocean, the maps were folded inside-out, with the blank side showing; consequently, it’s not uncommon to find these earlier maps refolded incorrectly with the printed side out. This misfolding is one type of damage to watch for when adding these maps to your collection. Another type is paper separation along the folds, especially in the earlier maps, which were printed on a thinner paper.

Since the 1960’s it has been standard to print on both sides of the paper, and text, artwork and photographs often accompany the maps. In a few cases, the magazine supplements are not maps at all, such as the June 1989 pictorial on dinosaurs or the September 1973 sheet on outer space. And in a few other cases, the Society has issued maps that were not included with the magazine. Examples include maps issued with various books the Society has published, maps offered for sale separately, such as the December 1960 map of the U.S.S.R., and maps such as the July 1944 large-format “Germany and Its Approaches – for use by War and Navy Department Agencies only; not for sale or distribution.”

You should generally be able to find copies of National Geographic Society maps in very good to excellent condition. Often, these maps have remained safely tucked inside the magazine and if they’ve been stored in a dry, bug-free environment, should be in fine shape. With care and patience, misfolded maps can be correctly refolded; it’s helpful to have an example on hand to use as a model. Even when these maps were removed from the magazine, they’re usually in reasonably good condition; these maps were typically not put to the same type of use (or abuse) as road and highway maps.

Generally, and not surprisingly, the older National Geographic Society maps are worth more than the newer ones. Far fewer were issued – and even fewer have survived. Values reflect this scarcity and a copy of the October 1898 “The Gold and Coal Fields of Alaska” would set you back at least $100, if you can find one. All of the other maps from the years 1892-1905 are also rare and will cost between $50 and $75 apiece.

Titles between 1906 and 1918 are also desirable and hard to find; retail prices may run between $10 and $25 apiece.

From 1921 onward the maps become noticeably more plentiful and prices will be lower – and tend to vary more widely from dealer to dealer. On average, titles from the 20’s and 30’s run $6 each; one exception is the April 1939 “Reaches of New York City,” which was displayed in the governor’s office on the TV show Benson and commands a bit more. Maps from the early 40’s usually can sell for $5 apiece, largely because of their tie-in with the Second World War. Another popular – and similarly priced – war map is the April 1961 “Battlefields of the Civil War.”

From the 50’s onwards, one map dealer may ask $3 for a given title and another one may only want a buck, but if you don’t mind poking through thrift shops, flea markets and garage sales, you can usually find these newer maps for 25 cents – or less – apiece, although there’s no guarantee you’ll locate the title you’re looking for. You can also contact the National Geographic Society itself; their current catalog lists for more than 60 of their most recent and best-selling maps – for $7.95 apiece plus shipping and handling.

Checklist of Supplemental Maps Issued by National Geographic Magazine

[Note: The date at left is the issue in which the map appeared; in a few cases the date actually printed on the map may be different. In its first half-dozen years the National Geographic Magazine was published on an “occasional” basis. (AP = Atlas Plate)


Oct – Asheville District


Mar 21 – Muir Glacier

Mar 31 – United States


Apr 7 – Nuremburg Chronicle Map, 1493; Juan de la Cosa Map, 1500; Ruysch Map, 1508


Jan – Russia in Europe

Feb – The Orinoco River

Mar – Submarine Cables of the World

Oct – Nansen Explorations


Mar – The Gold and Coal Fields of Alaska

May – Cuba


Jun – Theater of Military Operations in Luzon

Jul – Region Adjacent to the Nicaragua Canal Route

Aug – South Polar Regions

Nov – Vancouver’s Chart No. 1, Vancouver’s Chart No. 2

Dec – Seat of War in Africa


Jan – Philippine Islands as the Geographical Center of the Far East

Sep – Northeastern China


Jan – The Philippines (Two maps)


Feb – Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic Ocean for February 1903


Jan – Alaskan Boundary Decision

Mar – War Map of Manchuria and Korea

May – Alaska


Feb – Cart of the World on Mercator’s Projection

Jun – Seat of War in Manchuria

Aug – Philippine Islands

Oct – Region of the Panama Canal


Jun – Co-tidal Lines for the World

Oct – Cuba


Jul – The North Pole Regions


Mar – Africa


May – Mexico


Jan – Countries Bordering the Mediterranean Sea

Feb – Bird’s Eye View of the Panama Canal

Oct – China and Its Territories


Feb – Central America, Cuba, Porto Rico & the Islands of the Caribbean Sea


Feb – Alaska

May – Mexico

Aug – New Balkan States and Central Europe


Jul – Europe and Adjoining Portions of Africa & Asia


Jul – Mexico


May – Western Theatre of War

Dec – The Races of Europe and Adjoining Portions of Asia and Africa


Feb – Europe Showing Countries as Established by the Peace Conference

May – Asia and Adjoining Europe with a portion of Africa

Oct – South America

Dec – Sovreignty and Mandate Boundary Lines in 1921 of Islands of the Pacific


Feb – The Countries of the Caribbean, including Mexico & Central America

Oct – Africa and Adjoining Portions of Europe & Asia

Dec – The World


Apr – United States of America


May – North America


Nov – The Arctic Regions


Sep – N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia and Eastern Tennessee


Feb – Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia


Dec – Europe and the Near east


Jan – Florida

Apr – Louisiana


May – Illinois


Jan – A Map of the Travels of George Washington

Oct – The Antarctic Regions

Dec – The World


May – The United States and Adjoining Portions of Canada and Mexico

Nov – Greater New York

Dec – Asia and Adjacent Regions


Dec – Mexico, Central America and the West Indies


Jun – Africa

Dec – The World (Two Hemispheres)


Jun – Canada

Dec – Pacific Ocean


Jun – Modern Pilgrim’s Map of the British Isles

Jul – The White Mountains of New Hampshire

Dec – South America


Apr – The Reaches of New York City

Jul – Historic and Scenic Reaches of the Nation’s Capital

Dec – Bible Lands and the cradle of Civilization


Apr – The Reaches of New York City

Jul – Atlantic Ocean

Oct – Central Europe and the Mediterranean

Dec – Mexico, Central America and the West Indies


Mar – Classical Lands of the Mediterranean

May – Europe and the Near East

Jun – The Southwestern United States

Dec – The United States and Adjoining Portions of Canada and Mexico


Mar – Indian Ocean Including Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia

Jun – Northwestern United States and Neighboring Canadian Provinces

Sep – Atlantic Ocean

Dec – The World


Feb – Theater of War in the Pacific Ocean

May – North America

Jul – Theater of the War in Europe, Africa and Western Asia

Oct – South America

Dec – Asia and Adjacent Areas


Feb – Africa

Apr – Northern and Southern Hemispheres

Jun – Europe and the Near East

Sep – Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Bengal

Dec – The World Map


Apr – Japan and the Adjacent Regions of Asia and the Pacific Ocean

Jul – Germany and Its Approaches

Oct – Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands from the Indies to the Solomons

Dec – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


Mar – The Philippines

Jun – China

Sep – Northeastern United States

Dec – Japan and Korea


Feb – Northern Hemisphere

Apr – India and Burma

Jul – United States of America

Dec – Bible Lands and the Cradle of Western Civilization


Feb – Southeastern United States

Jun – Canada, Alaska & Greenland

Oct – Countries of the Caribbean Including Mexico, Central America & the West Indies

Dec – South Central United States


Mar – Australia

Sep – A Pocket Map of Washington, D.C.

Dec – Southwestern United States


Jun – Europe and the Near East

Oct – The Top of the World

Dec – Classical Lands of the Mediterranean


Mar – Africa and the Arabian Peninsula

Jun – Northwestern United States and Neighboring Canadian Provinces

Oct – South America

Dec – Western Europe


Mar – Asia and Adjacent Areas

Jun – United States of America

Sep – Central Europe Including the Balkan States

Dec – The World


Mar – North America

Jun – Southwest Asia: India, Pakistan and Northeast Africa

Sep – The Far East

Dec – Pacific Ocean


Mar – Mexico and Central America

Jun – Historical Map of the Unites States

Oct – China Coast and Korea

Dec – Great Lakes Region of the United States and Canada


Mar – West Indies

Jun – A Map of California

Aug – Northern Europe

Dec – Northern Africa


Mar – Eastern South America

Jun – New England

Sep – Southeast Asia

Dec – Atlantic Ocean


Apr – Round About the Nation’s Capital

Jun – Alaska

Sep – The United States


Mar – The World

Jun – Europe

Sep – Antarctica

Dec – The Heavens / Star Charts


Jan – Southeastern United States (Atlas Series)

Mar – Southern South America (Atlas Series)

May – National Parks, Monuments and Shrines of the Unites States and Canada

Jul – British Isles (AP 31)

Sep – Poland and Czechoslovakia (AP 38)

Nov – North Central United States (AP 9)

Dec – Greece and the Aegean (AP 40)


Jan – Lands of the Eastern Mediterranean (AP 47)

Apr – NE United States (AP 6)

Jun – Germany (AP 35)

Jul – State of Alaska (AP 18)

Sep – Western Soviet Union (AP 45)

Nov – Southwestern United States (AP 12)

Dec – Asia and Adjacent Areas (AP 44)


Feb – South America (AP 25)

Apr – Northwestern United States (AP 11)

Jun – France, Belgium and the Netherlands (AP 32)

Jul – Hawaii (AP 15)

Sep – Africa (AP 54)

Nov – The World (AP 2)

Dec – Japan and Korea (AP 51)


Feb – South Central United States (AP 10)

Apr – Battlefields of the Civil War (AP 14)

May – Southeast Asia (AP 49)

Jul – The United States (AP 5)

Oct – Mexico and Central America (AP 22)

Nov – Italy (AP 37)

Dec – Canada (AP 19)


Feb – The Balkans (AP 39)

Apr – Pacific Ocean (AP 61) New Zealand, New Guinea & Pacific Islands

Jun – Europe (AP 30)

Aug – Washington to Boston (AP 7)

Sep – Eastern South America (AP 27)

Nov – Southern Africa (AP 57)

Dec – West Indies (AP 23)


Feb – Antarctica (AP 65)

Apr – Scandinavia (AP 34)

May – Southwest Asia (AP 48)

Jul – Central Canada (AP 24)

Sep – Australia (AP 59)

Dec - Holy Land Today (AP 52)


Feb – Northwestern South America (AP 26)

Apr – North America (AP 17)

May – Shakespeare’s Britain

Jul – Greater New York/ Tourist Manhattan (AP 15)

Nov – China (AP 50)

Dec – Suburban Washington/Tourist Washington (U.S. AP 21)


Jan – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Eastern Thailand

Feb – The World

Mar – Spain and Portugal (AP 33)

May – The Nile Valley: Land of the Pharaohs (AP 58)

Sep – Switzerland, Austria and Northern Italy (AP 36)/TeAlps

Nov – Top of the World (AP 3)


May – Southern California (U.S. AP 69)/Northern California (Plate 68)

Jul – Vacationlands of the United States and Southern Canada

Aug – Northwestern Africa (AP 55)

Sep – Western Canada (AP 21)


Feb – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand

Mar – Eastern Soviet Union (AP 46)

May – Eastern Canada (AP 20)

Oct – Indian Ocean Floor

Dec – Lands of the Bible Today


Feb – The United States

Jun – Atlantic Ocean Floor/ Atlantic Ocean (Atlas Plate 62)

Oct – Archeological Map of Middle America

Dec – Southeast Asia


Feb – The Earth’s Moon

Jun – Europe

Oct – Pacific Ocean Floor/ Pacific Ocean


Jan – West Indies and Central America

Jun – Traveler’s Map of Italy

Aug – Map of the Heavens, with Monthly Star Charts for Both Hemispheres

Dec – The World


Mar – The Peoples of Mainland Southeast Asia/Asia

Jun – A Traveler’s map of France

Oct – Arctic Ocean Floor/ Arctic Ocean

Dec – 1971 The Peoples of Africa/Heritage of Africa


Mar – Canada

Jul – A Cultural Map of the Middle East/Peoples of the Middle East

Oct – South America

Dec – Indians of North America


Feb – The Red Planet: Mars

Mar – Close-up: U.S.A. The Northwest

May – Mexico/Central America

Aug – Close-up: U.S.A. Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Great Lakes

Sep – Teammates in Mankind’s Greatest Adventure Earth from Space [Not a map]

Nov – Close-up: U.S.A. Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands


Mar – Close-up: U.S.A. The North Central States

Apr – A Traveler’s Map of the British Isles

Jun – Close-up: U.S.A. California and Nevada

Oct – Close-up: U.S.A. The South Central States

Dec – Discoverers of the Pacific/ Islands of the Pacific


Mar – Close-up: U.S.A. Maine, with the Maritime Provinces of Canada