The Map title explains the competition: ‘the map shows the present demarcation of the countries’, and each player should ‘sketch in the boundaries of states according to your view of probable peace terms’. The rules of the competition are explained on a separate leaf:

This map is 24 in. x 21 ½ in. in size, and shows clearly the present demarcation of territories, and the principal towns, rivers, mountain ranges, etc… Competitors are not restricted in regard to the number of maps they send in, but all maps must reach the Editor of The Financial Times, 72, Coleman Street, London, E.C., on or before 30 November next [the British Library’s example is stamped with the acquisition date ’13 Nov 1914’]. After satisfaction of the prizes, the balance derived from the sale of the maps will be handed to the Prince of Wales’ Fund.

The remodelling of the map of Europe has already become a favourite pastime of our French allies.

The First Prize was £25, the second £10 10s. (£10.50), the third £5 5s. (£5.25), with ten additional prizes of a guinea (£1 1s. – £1.05). While an entertaining idea, the competition also has much to say about the attitudes of the organisers; in the rules they write: ‘It should be noted that in making the awards, the management of The Financial Times (whose decision must be final) will not take into consideration estimates of the amount of any cash indemnities to be paid, or the disposition of Germany’s foreign possessions, as this would unduly complicate the adjudgment of the award.’ In effect, they are stating that, in their opinion, Germany was certainly going to lose the war, have reparations levied against it, and lose its foreign possessions. It was unthinkable, evidently, that the British Isles should be in any way affected by revised boundaries – the north of Scotland and almost all of Ireland are not even included on the map. Whatever happened would be on the European, not the British, side of the Channel.

The First World War began on 28 July 1914 with the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, and became truly pan-European when Germany invaded Belgium, then France. Britain declared war on 4 August. The war came to an end on 11 November 1918, almost exactly four years after this map was received in the then-British Museum’s Map Library.

Although the publishers, and to be fair many others, thought that the war would be fairly short and ‘gentlemanly’, that was not to be the case. It is a matter of sadness to ponder how many light-hearted participants in the Financial Times’ competition may have lost their lives ‘in Flanders Fields’ or in other theatres in this brutal modern war.