5. Berlin as an emerging cartographic focus at the end of the 18th century

Between 1766 when the Prussian Academy of Science made the futile attempt to publish a modern map of Brandenburg and 1773 when the Güssefeld map of Brandenburg was published, the minister count Schulenburg-Kehnert ordered a large scale topographic - not geodetic - survey of a considerable part of Prussia to obtain a reliable cartographic base for the Prussian central and regional administration. This enterprise led to the so-called Schulenburg-Schmettau map of Prussia in the scale 1 : 50 000 which was taken as the general model to provide as well first of all the administration as later on the public with reliable maps. In 1773 Güssefeld himself was not yet able to benefit from these sources.

During the decade 1773-1783 a lot of regional manuscript maps were drawn - most of them in scales between 1 : 100 000 and 1 : 200 000 - to fulfil the demands of several departments, in particular the military department. Among the cartographers who carried out this work we find Schirmeister, Carl Ludwig Oesfeld, Goswin Ottmar Schultze and Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann.

From 1777 Carl Ludwig Oesfeld and from 1784 Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann began to publish little topographic maps which showed parts of Brandenburg, were based on the Schulenburg-Schmettau corpus and added to several books respectively regularly to calendars edited by the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. Due to this cautious procedure these maps containing reliable topographic information could be given to the public before the king's very eyes.

When in 1786 Frederic II died all cartographic obstacles vanished. Just in this year Sotzmann became the successor of Rhode as the cartographer of the Academy of Sciences - his official title, however, was "geographer" - and he continued the map-making activities of this Academy by starting a totally new publishing policy. Due to the increase of topographic documents in large and medium scales concerning as well Prussian territories as areas in all continents, the geographic and encyclopedic influence of Anton Friedrich Büsching who lived in Berlin since 1766, and the political and military events which followed the French revolution, the huge cartographic market which arose within a few years could be satisfied with modern and reliable maps drawn, engraved and published in Berlin. The activities of Oesfeld and Sotzmann very soon were supplemented by cartographers like David Gilly, Daniel Gottlob Reymann, Friedrich Bernhardt Engelhardt and, moreover, by officials like the minister Schrötter and the general Lecoq, before in 1816 the state cartography of the Prussian monarchy and its organization were taken over by the general staff of the army. So far as Brandenburg was concerned in particular, from 1783 there had been a permanent cartographic competition between Güssefeld in Weimar and Oesfeld and Sotzmann in Berlin. At the end of the 18th century the customers could decide in favour of satisfying maps and low prices if they bought heteronomous maps by Güssefeld, or of excellent maps and about fourfold prices if they reached for Sotzmann`s autochthonous maps. It may be mentioned that the three map collections of Napoleon I contained maps of Sotzmann only.


The chronologic sequence of maps showing Brandenburg from the end of the 15th to the end of the 18th centuries reveal a clear predominance of heteronomous periods during the early times - 15th to 17th centuries - when Brandenburg can be called an underdevelopped country without any need or endeavor for contemporarily modern cartographic activities.

These early periods led into a period of transition which started at the same time when Brandenburg and the Prussian monarchy generally moved from the stage of town and fortress plans to the first attempts of topographic surveys. This stage of transition first of all comprises the Gundling map of 1724 which is topographically determined by the Svart base.

Contrary to this map and its spirit the fear of Frederic II for advantages which enemies could gain from reliable maps showing the central province and the capital of Prussia held the country back for several decades in this stage of transition.

The real cartographic power of Prussia should be proved when after 1786 scholars, cartographers, copper engravers and publishing houses in Berlin made up for the delay of the capability for cartographic publication and produced excellent autochthonous maps.

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