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Cartographica Helvetica


Peter H. Meurer:

Background and analysis of Tobias Mayer's 'Critical Map of Germany'

Cartographica Helvetica 12 (1995) 19–26


In 1750, the Homann Heirs in Nuremberg published the Germaniae … mappa critica by Tobias Mayer. In the literature this map is regarded as a milestone in the development of the modern cartographic representation of Central Europe. In the course of a general revision of the older map history of Central Europe done by the Trier research project 'Corpus of older Germania maps', this highly rated map was once more the subject of intensified studies. The research on the extensive literature revealed a partly uncertain classification.

A qualification of this specific map must take into consideration its initial purpose: to function as a mathematical-cartographic standard for regional maps of the German territories. This intention evokes its main critique:

  • Some regions are represented rather poorly: Westphalia, Friesland, Brunswick, and others.
  • Tobias Mayer's understanding of the borders of 'Germania' is rather diffuse – the German territories on the left side of the Rhine are totally overlooked.
  • The graduation of the map border is shown in a rough fashion and the coordinates of towns can be determined with an accuracy of 5' only.

If anything can be regarded as a milestone in German cartography, it is not this map but the idea and the project behind it, even though it was never realized.

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