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Cartographica Helvetica


Armin Hüttermann:

Tobias Mayer and his itinerary map from 1751

Cartographica Helvetica 26 (2002) 13–22


Tobias Mayer (1723–1762) grew up under very simple circumstances and was therefore never able to obtain a university education. Nevertheless, he already drew a city map of Ellsingen at the age of 16. In 1741 he published a book on geometry and in 1745 a mathematical atlas with, among other items, instructions for drawing maps.

A year later he was employed by the publishing house Homann-Erben in Nürnberg where he drafted more than 30 maps including the Mappa Critica, in which he showed the inaccuracies of contemporary maps of Germany by comparing two of them to observations that he himself had made.

The itinerary map Nuremberg–Göttingen at the scale of approx. 1:350,000 documents Tobias Mayer's journey to his new place of employment (from Nuremberg to Göttingen), which was at the same time his honeymoon. The map consists of two adjoining printed parts which could be cut apart and pasted together in the center. Mayer's map distinguished itself in that it showed the shortest route, even though it deviated from the conventional postal routes. In contrast to other contemporary maps, Mayer included an exact grid in his map which served as the basis for accurate measurements.

This itinerary map was an attempt at publishing a new product at the publishing house Homann – a travel atlas. However, except for an additional sheet, it was never realized.

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