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Cartographica Helvetica


Alfred Oberli:

The 'Wild map' of Zurich canton 1852–1868

Cartographica Helvetica 2 (1990) 27–38


In 1851, Johannes Wild finished the topographical survey of the Zurich canton. These ordnance survey maps were established by the order of the federal government under the supervision of General Guillaume Henri Dufour and served as the basic material for the 1:100,000 Topographic Map of Switzerland.

Since this survey was painstakingly accurate, the government of the Zurich canton decided to publish these map sheets in the original 1:25,000 scale as well. It took quite a long time to define the sheet size and the reproduction method. Most of the other cantonal maps at that time were engraved in copper plates, and the terrain was represented by hachures. Between 1847 and 1850, Wild made several tests by reproducing a map section by means of lithography, copper engraving and stone engraving.

The last of the 32 sheets was finally published in 1867. Two lithographers, Graf and Brack, engraved the map originals in stone for the four-colour lithographic print. With the exception of a few distinguishable details in their type style and the representation of minor roads, the cartographic work of the two is almost identical. Interesting is the fact, that Wild had already used the transfer-printing technique in order to preserve the valuable original stones.

Although this map series received unanimous acclaim and became an important prototype for the following 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 'Siegfried map', the lithographic printing proved not completely satisfactory: lack of experienced printers, disintegration of the inked-in engraving, great difficulty with the map revision.

Bibliographic note

  • Also published as: Die Wild-Karte des Kantons Zürich 1852–1868. Zürich, 1990.

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