MUSCAT and OMAN. Two maps on either side of one sheet of rayon (artificial silk) fabric. Saint Louis, Aeronautical Chart and Information Center, United States Air Force, 1969.
The printed sheet measures 105 x 77 cm; previously folded; small areas of discolouration in blank margins, otherwise very clean and fresh.
This map must have been issued in connection with the Dhofar War, which unsettled the region from the 1960s to 1977, and which resulted in the modernisation of the Sultanate of Oman. Ranulph Fiennes fictionalised episodes of this war in The Feathermen (1991). These rare and restricted military maps or escape maps have been printed to very high standards, with extremely fine lines and precise details. Christopher Hutton (1893–1965) was the sole man behind all escape equipment developed and issued by MI9 during the Second World War. The inventor, journalist and airman had been fascinated since his teenage years by Houdini. Escape maps were printed on silk so as not to take up space; light to carry and silent when unfolded. The authorities were sceptical about the production of maps during the war, but Christopher William Clayton Hutton got into contact with the Edinburgh map makers Bartholomew and Son. One of Hutton's acquaintances was a silk manufacturer from Macclesfield and the only obstacle remaining was the bleeding of the ink into the fabric, a problem Hutton solved by adding pectin to the ink.