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Thomas Klöti:

The customs map of Switzerland (1825) by Johann Kaspar Zellweger and Heinrich Keller: the origin of a basis for the revision of the transit and internal customs duties

Cartographica Helvetica 14 (1996) 25–34


Until 1849, a merchant travelling across Switzerland had to pay many different taxes: customs duties at the national and cantonal borders, tolls for using roads and bridges. These taxes slowed down the traffic and discouraged trade.

Federal customs officer Johann Kaspar Zellweger (1768–1855) carried out investigations which served as a basis for revising the transit and domestic trade customs duties. In connection with the investigations, Zellweger compiled the Zollkarte der Schweiz (Customs map of Switzerland) in 1825. For the original drawing he employed the famous cartographer Heinrich Keller (1778–1862) from Zurich. Keller himself had already published the Reisekarte der Schweiz (Travellers map of Switzerland) in 1813 and was therefore well experienced for this task. Because Zellweger lived in Trogen, approx. 80 km east of Zurich, they communicated mostly by writing. Their correspondence is a rich source of interesting details of the procedure of compiling maps and the quality of the map contents.

Only two hand-drawn manuscript maps exist: the first version is kept in the State Archives of Bern, the second version in the Swiss Federal Archives. The map represents the situation 170 years ago when the international trade routes avoided Switzerland because of its overboarding taxes. A revision of the customs duties became an absolute necessity. Because of the Swiss federalist system the domestic trade taxes were not abolished until the Swiss Confederation was founded in 1848.

Bibliographic note

  • Edited version of: Die Zollkarte der Schweiz (1825) von Johann Kaspar Zellweger und Heinrich Keller. In: Zoll-Rundschau 41, 2 (1996) pp. 39–42.

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