Andreas Hefti (1862–1931), topographer and cartographer
Cartographica Helvetica 7 (1993) 21–32
Until a few months ago, Andreas Hefti was virtually unknown. He was born in 1862 into a large but poor family. Already as a youngster he showed talent in artistic drawing. Until 1895 he worked in several printing firms as a draftsman. Professor Fridolin Becker of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich employed him as a technical draftsman. Becker was at this time already a well-known authority in cartography, and he influenced Hefti's further professional steps.
During that period, Hefti was designing so-called 'war game maps' for the officer clubs of Zurich and Winterthur. These war games were practiced by army officers during the wintertime and seemed to be some kind of tactical exercises. As a substitute for the natural terrain, they used large scale maps. Hefti enlarged the existing official topographic maps 1:25,000 ('Siegfried maps') into the 1:10,000 scale and drafted the final maps in colours. As a novelty he included impressive hillshading tints. Later on, Hefti used photographically enlarged maps onto which he only needed to add the colored relief, thus saving time and production costs.
Hefti started his studies at the age of 37 still under Professor Becker, and in 1902 he graduated as a cultural engineer. Thanks to his diploma he finally received a long-desired job with the Federal Office of Topography in Berne. He died in 1931, 69 years old, while working in a field campaign.
His 'war game maps' were forgotten for many years. Only recently, a private owner discovered a set of 24 maps representing the northern part of the canton of Zurich in his attic. These relief maps are unmatched masterpieces in large-scale mapping of Switzerland.