There is a good chance you didn’t know the first and rarest version of the large Disneyland Park map even exists…
Published July 17, 2016
But isn’t that the way things go when you are dealing with the extremely rare? Nevertheless, it does exist and how it came into existence is as at the heart of Disneyland’s first beginnings.
The first mention I had ever heard of the 1958 Disneyland large park map Version INA was in a Main Street INA Carefree Corner blog post that Gorillas Don’t Blog was writing about back in 20061. In this article GDB mentioned of seeing one of these maps firsthand, stating that “There are countless little INA Disneyland guidebooks out there, and a friend of mine has a first edition Disneyland map (1958) with an INA imprint.” Then in 2008 Disneyland blogger Matterhorn19592 confirmed on Tim’s famous Vintage Disneyland Tickets site3 of also seeing a Version INA map, stating that “I have also seen a 1958 first map with INA markings.” In fact, it’s in this very VDT article in which the original INA (Insurance of North America) contest publication was re-discovered, some 50 years after being sent to INA agents. A contest tied to the creation of Sam McKim’s first large park map.
Following these posts the trail went cold for a few years. It seemed for awhile this white whale might not actually exist, a figment of our imagination. Then in September 2012 one of these mysterious maps showed up in auction. Its old Ebay listing is archived in WorthPoint4. It’s clear from the description that the seller knew the map was rare. But without Tim’s VDT INA contest information, the details of its rarity and historical significance to the origin of the large Disneyland map were missing. It would be another half decade before the second map would show up, and in quite a peculiar way. But let’s first take a look at the history of the 1958 Version INA Disneyland map.
Two important events were fast approaching in 1958. The first was the INA Family Happiness & Security Conference, scheduled for January 9th – 13th, 1958. The second was the release of the first large Disneyland park map to the public, by Imagineer Sam McKim, in the early Spring of 1958.
While it wasn’t until the early Spring of 1958 that park guests could first obtain a large park map, the map in its earliest version was actually mailed to INA agents prior to the January 9th – 13th, 1958 INA Conference. This first version, Version INA, was originally made for a contest for INA agents. If an agent could sell 4 or more INA Homeowners and/or Tenants Policies (with or without VPA Endorsement) during the period September 15th to November 15th of 1957, then they would qualify for the contest as a semi-finalist. From which 45 of those semi-finalists would be selected as finalists and winners of the contest for a trip to Disneyland. INA made clear the process for determining the final 45 agents as presented in their contest publication (which Tim has made available on his VDT site).
At conclusion of the qualification period a committee of prominent persons will be invited to INA Headquarters in Philadelphia to make a random selection of forty-five (45) producers from all those who have qualified. Thus the Conference will be made up of truly representative INA producers throughout the nation.3
Going back to the 2012 Ebay auction, not only was it an INA Disneyland map but it was also accompanied by the original letter to INA agents who qualified as semi-finalists for the contest. Interestingly, the letter used the same orange border of Disney characters as the first large park map. The letter spoke of the upcoming Conference in January 1958. In the picture below it can be read in the second paragraph that the “…annual Family Conference on Happiness and Security will be held at Disneyland in January 1958. Forty-five INA agents and their families will be….”. It further says “If your family is selected to come to Disneyland…” in the start of the fourth paragraph. Admittedly the resolution of the image from Worthpoint is low and so makes it difficult to read. If anyone has special imaging software that can help to read more of this letter, please Contact Us.
The INA letter goes on further to discuss INA agent eligibility for participation in the contest. The letter also has the same INA Family Happiness & Security Conference logo as is found on only Version INA of the large Disneyland park map. Thus a mark that is unique to the INA Conference can be found on the INA map. And a mark unique to the map (the orange border of Disney characters) can be found on the INA letter. To date, no other document or artifact from this same time period has been found that showcases this same style and presentation of Disney characters on an orange border except for the large Disneyland map itself. Thus this letter establishes several important findings surrounding the history of the INA map.
First, the letter and Version INA map were created in 1957. They were received prior to the January 9th – 13th, 1958 INA Conference. Sent to INA agents that qualified as semi-finalists after the contest period ended on November 15, 1957. Also prior to the selection of the 45 INA agents from all around the country, which occurred by a committee that met in Philadelphia to choose these 45 contest winners.
Second, it was sent to INA agents that met the eligibility requirements for attending the INA Conference. It’s known that only 45 INA agents would ultimately be chosen to attend the Conference but it’s not known how many semi-finalists received these letters and maps, after qualifying by the November 15, 1957 deadline. Was it 100? 1000? We’ll do some math shortly to try and help estimate how many might have received the qualification INA letter and INA map. Though the exact number will probably never be known (unless Disney Archives has kept immaculate records regarding the 1957 INA Disneyland contest).
And third, because INA sponsored this version, and because this version preceded all other versions, INA can be credited to funding the creation of the first Disneyland large park map. New projects at Disneyland during this time were routinely supported through sponsors. This tradition started prior to opening day and exists even today. But the establishment of the original 33 sponsors of the park was mostly the result of a small budget that Disneyland had in its first years of operation. Walt and Roy Disney, as well as Disneyland’s first General Manager C.V. Wood, went to great lengths to secure sponsors for the park in those early years (Todd James Pierce has a new book that examines that early history of Disneyland and specifically C.V. Wood’s role in attaining sponsors). INA was one of those first 33 sponsors of the park and operated the INA Carefree Corner from 1956 to 1974.5
The tight budget that Disneyland operated under in its first years was apparent even during the creation of this first large park map. The artist and cartographer, Sam McKim, reflected on his original work in creating the first Disneyland large park map. In an interview with Paul Anderson of the Disney History Institute6, McKim remarked the following regarding the reduced payment he received for the time it took him to research and draw the first large Disneyland park map.
Again, this interview was made possible by Paul Anderson of the Disney History Institute, a great resource on all things Disney.
Sam McKim’s recall of the tight budget and Ken Peterson’s reaction to McKim’s original estimate on time and cost, highlights how important sponsors were to the park in those early years for funding projects. Having INA sponsor the first large Disneyland park map provided the funds for its creation and printing.
But what we still don’t know is how many of these INA letters and INA Version maps were mailed to qualifying INA agents in 1957. Only one of these INA letters and two of these Version INA maps have been found at auction (by searching via Worthpoint and checking major auction houses like Van Eaton Galleries). But by examining the frequency of the Version A map against all other versions in these same public auctions, we can begin to make some educated guesses. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that these are just that, guesses. Only Disney Archives may know how many of these INA letters and INA maps were sent out in 1957.
The availability of the 1958 Version A map for purchase occurred over several months in 1958. If we calculate that 1% of park guests purchased a Version A map in this time period then we would expect that there were about 20,000 maps sold (based on about 2 million people attending the park from early Spring until later that year). Given the frequency at which version A maps have appeared on Ebay and other auction houses over the last 10 years (more than 200) we can say that this represents about 1% of possible maps in existence. As there has surely been maps lost, destroyed, still sitting in dark attics, sitting in collections as prized items, etc., and we are only viewing this over a 10 year period and through only the major online auction houses. But by keeping to the same time frame and the same online auction houses, we can look at the number of INA maps that have appeared over the years and make an estimate on how many were originally created.
We know of two Version INA maps that made there way to online auction houses over the last 10 years – one was September 19, 2012 in an Ebay auction and the other was December 10, 2015 in Profiles in History’s Animation & Disneyana Auction. While the 2012 auction had the INA letter to help guide the history of the INA map, the 2015 auction lacked the letter, creating some confusion for Profiles in History, which incorrectly labeled the map as a Version B. Despite all elements of the map being the same as Version A, with the exception of the INA Conference logo. Beyond these two maps we have mention of at least two Disney blog comments of seeing one of the Version INA maps (discussed previously in this article). From this information we can predict that somewhere around 300-400 of these Version INA maps were created. This would make sense as the INA letters and INA map sent to INA agents in 1957 indicated that 45 would be chosen. So it would be reasonable to assume that more than 45 INA agents qualified for the contest.
This also a good estimate supported by the fact that Disneyland operated on a small budget at this time (remember how much of an issue it was paying McKim $700 for the creation of the first map, it had to be knocked down to $350), so it is reasonable to assume that Disney was not making a mass quantity of these INA letters and INA maps. Not to mention the additional time and money to mail them out. And yes it was probably INA that was paying for and mailing them out to the agents but it’s the same situation, they would have also been limited with how many of these INA letters and INA maps that could have been created and mailed out in the short period of qualifying as a semi-finalist. Since this first Version INA was being offered as a gift to the INA agents that qualified for the contest. Version A maps sold in the park later could recoup funds because they were being sold for profit, so these could be produced in the tens of thousands.
Being the first version of the large Disneyland park map and being such a small number of maps ever produced, it truly makes Version INA the ‘Honus Wagner’ of Disneyland park maps. As the famous T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is believed to have only been printed in a batch of 50 to 200. And while Version INA’s rarity has hidden its remarkable history in the dark for nearly 60 years, its existence and ties to INA, one of the original 33 sponsors of Disneyland, is now being more fully understood. Just as the history of the T206 Honus Wagner card was also mostly unknown for more than 60 years.
- Gorillas Don’t Blog; Interior of the INA Carefree Corner, 1970
- Stuff From the Park
- Vintage Disneyland Tickets; Fall/Winter 1968 Full Guide Post – plus a Bonus
- Worthpoint; 1958 Disneyland “A” Edition INA Special Rare Map with Letter fro INA Agents!!
- D23, The Official Disney Fan Club; “Carefree Corner”