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Samuel Wyder:

Swiss school atlases from 1843 onwards

Cartographica Helvetica 20 (1999) 25–33


Simple school atlases were already known in the 18th century. Beginning in 1843, Heinrich Keller and Jakob Melchior Ziegler produced the first atlases in Switzerland for use in schools. Other editors and revisers of school atlases were Heinrich Wettstein (beginning in 1872) and Wilhelm Götzinger (beginning in 1902), both from Zurich. However, even in those times the competition from large German editors was not to be underestimated. From the very beginning these cartographers tried to incorporate scientific developments and discoveries in their works. Later on the main problem in producing useful atlases was the representation of mountains.

Because of the many foreign atlases which did not really reflect the characteristics of the topography in Switzerland, it was decided at a conference of the cantonal education directors in 1899 to produce their own official teaching aid. Producing such an atlas in a German and French version as well as a simplified edition for use in lower schools turned out to be an extremely challenging task in view of the federalist school system in Switzerland. The different editors-in-chief August Aeppli (from 1898), Eduard Imhof (from 1927) and Ernst Spiess (from 1976) produced school atlases which found great international recognition for their developments in terrain representation using oblique hill shading graded by the application of aerial perspective.

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