Celebrating the Land of Celibacy
By Anonymous , 1788

The Land of Matrimony [and] Land of Celibacy.

World World maps
  • Author: Anonymous
  • Publication place: [London
  • Publication date: late 18th century].
  • Physical description: Engraved map, mounted on a fan, on wooden struts, minor loss to extremities.
  • Dimensions: 140 by 370mm (5.5 by 14.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18597


Rare matrimonial map mounted as a fan.

During the eighteenth century, a popular subject for spoof cartography was marriage, as shown in this fantasy ‘map’ made in a typical eighteenth century style.

The drawing-room novelty allowed readers to enjoy a light-hearted view of a serious matter in 18th and 19th century Britain. Although many such maps expound the benefits of marriage, and the dangers of the single life for women, the present fan celebrates the life of celibacy.

Our journey starts with a young lady beckoning us to join her on board her boat, ‘The Dispatch Packet’; proclaiming “‘Come who’s for the land of matrimony?”, “Come Ladies, each of your Mothers has been [on] the Voyage before you”, “My Boat is a Prime Sailor & I will land you safely or have nothing for my pains.” The newly-wed woman lands at ‘Honey Moon Bay’, but is faced with numerous obstacles on her way to the ‘Temple of Hymen’, these including the ‘Pit of Dispair’, the ‘Mountain of Infidelity’, and the ‘Temple of Discord’. In fact the land of matrimony contains nothing but trouble and strife for the recently wed. In stark contrast, across the water, is the ‘Land of Celibacy’, which not only contains the ‘Temple of Peace’, but also boasts the ‘Town of Independence’, and ‘Paradise Place’.

Paper fans became popular with mapmakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth century; their portable nature meaning they were often adorned with plans of cities, such as London, and Paris; or as amusing parlour pieces as here.