Perhaps the most iconic of all commemorative moon landing artistic productions, Michael Ramus’s double hemisphere pictorial map did great justice to the historic achievement of Apollo 11.
The richly-decorated map is adorned with a variety of delightful illustrations portraying both historical and contemporary scenes. At top a fierce bald eagle projects the pride and strength of the nation; upon its back sit Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, who collectively oversaw the American side of the space race of the 1960s. Kennedy, of course, famously proposed in 1961 that the United States “should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
In the eagle’s beak flies a banner with Neil Armstrong’s momentous words as he became the first person to set foot on the moon. Mostly forgotten today is the fact that Armstrong himself meant to say: “That’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind,” but slipped-up slightly. Ramus has artfully acknowledged the ambiguity by all but hiding the ‘a’ in a fold in a banner.
At the heart of the map are two spheres of the moon, depicting its far and near sides, accurately mapping lunar craters and seas. On the near side we see the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 landing sites. Splitting the two sides of the moon, a space rocket with the letters ‘USA’ blasts off in its initial launch from a globe centered on the Western Hemisphere. Around the moons Ramus has treated the viewer to a wonderful mix of illustrations, with the moon landings linked with other great achievements and icons like the Wright Brothers, the Eiffel Tower, Galileo, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Ramus’s talent and wit are on full display throughout the work; he even slips in the cow from a Mother Goose rhyme jumping over the moon.
This map apparently was a promotional item issued by Merrill Lynch investment bank for its customers. Banners flanking the cartouche describe how 1969 will be remembered and what is to be expected in 1970. In the end, the text sums up nicely what it feels like to be part of something special:
“The usual tribulations, to be sure. Personal and professional problems, occasional victories, the shadow of inflation, recession and woe. Yet the central unforgettable event of 1969 was triumphant testament to the spirit of man.
This was the year of human footprints on the moon.”