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Stock# 99899

Archive of 37 Original Norton Allen Maps Drawn for Desert Magazine Allen Norton

A remarkable collection of 37 original Norton Allen manuscript maps of various Arizona locations with the accompanying Desert Magazine issue for which the map was published. 

As these are working manuscript maps we find blue pencil lines for drafting, white out for editing and publisher notes on recto and verso. Maps vary in size but certainly all were reduced for final magazine copy.

Comparing final magazine layout to the original map gives me a great appreciation for the fine detail included in these maps, which is often lost in the magazine.   

Mapmaker Norton Allen (1909-1997) was an amateur archaeologist who worked primarily in California, Arizona and southern Utah during the winter seasons alongside his partner Ethel and father Ernest. The Allen team became experts on the Hohokam culture and the archaeology of the Gila Bend area in Arizona. Several of their discoveries led to large scale professional digs gaining the Allen' much respect within the archaeological community. 

Norton Allen also was a stellar draftsman and mapmaker creating hundreds of custom maps spanning 40 years, primarily for Desert Magazine published in El Centro, California. Desert Magazine was the brainchild of Randall Henderson and ran from 1937 to 985. Allen's first map for Desert Magazine was published in Vol. 1 No. 2 in 1937 but he submitted artwork which was used in Vol. 1 No. 1.

Allen's distinctive maps became a popular feature of Desert Magazine readers. Norton Allen often created unique compass rose symbols to match the theme of the article for which the map was created. His clean use of hachure lines gave his maps a look which became synonymous with the maps in Desert Magazine.

The Journal of the Southwest Volume 52 Numbers 2 and 3, 2010 was devoted entirely to Norton Allen and his career, especially within the archaeological world but gives a good introduction to his artistic career.

Provenance:  Bookseller Mike Reilly purchased the archives of Desert Magazine and has sold individual Allen maps to private customers and dealers over the years, splitting up the collection. This set of 37 maps, exclusively of Arizona, may be one of the largest intact collections of Norton Allen maps existing.

Condition Description
Maps are in fine condition. Maps are corner mounted on archival board, sleeved with original magazine, plus a xerox of the page with map as used in the magazine is mounted on the verso.
Norton Allen Biography

Norton Allen (1909–1997) was a distinguished American artist and avocational archaeologist, renowned for his extensive work in the American Southwest, particularly in California and Arizona. His career spanned nearly half a century, during which he made significant contributions to the fields of art and archaeology.

A key aspect of Allen's artistic legacy is his role as the mapmaker and artist for Desert Magazine, where his exceptional maps were featured in nearly every issue for decades. These maps are notable for their detail and accuracy, earning him widespread respect and admiration in the artistic community.

Allen's involvement with the magazine began in 1937 when his mother contacted Randall Henderson, the editor of the then-new Desert Magazine, suggesting her son as a potential mapmaker. This marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership that would greatly enhance the magazine's appeal and usefulness.

Allen's maps were not only a testament to his artistic skill but also a reflection of his deep understanding of the Southwest's geography and history. His maps were known for their vivid and lively depiction of the landscape, almost giving the impression of a 3-D view from above. They were highly detailed and often included helpful notes for travelers, such as "Good trail here" or "Very sandy," making them both functional and engaging. These maps made Desert Magazine particularly popular among its readers, who found in them a reliable guide to the Southwest's varied and often challenging terrain.

His maps, numbering 747 in total, covered a wide range of locations and themes, including geode beds, Indian trails, and historical sites. He was modestly compensated, receiving only about $15-$18 per map.  

The influence of Allen's maps extended beyond the pages of Desert Magazine. He was recognized as a pioneer in creative cartography, a field that combines artistic expression with geographic information. His approach to mapmaking, where each map is seen as a created world reflecting the importance of its content to the maker, has been an inspiration to many in the field. 

In the realm of archaeology, Allen was a recognized expert on the Hohokam culture and the archaeology of the Gila Bend area in Arizona. He dedicated over 40 winter seasons to salvaging archaeological materials at risk of destruction due to agricultural expansion in the Gila River region. His work in this field was not just confined to Gila Bend; he also conducted smaller-scale excavations in the San Pedro Valley, southern Utah, and southwestern Colorado. One of his most notable archaeological contributions was at the Gatlin Site, a rare documented Hohokam platform mound. His findings here were pivotal in motivating further excavations in the Painted Rocks Reservoir by Arizona State Museum archaeologists William Wasley and Alfred Johnson between 1959 and 1964.

Allen's dedication to the field of archaeology was recognized in 1996 when the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society honored him and his wife Ethel with the Victor R. Stoner Award. This award was a testament to their lifelong contributions to archaeological preservation and their role in bringing the history and culture of the Hohokam in the Gila Bend area to public attention.