Mountains, lakes, and cities: an outstanding Swiss railway map for the end of the 19th century.

Carte Kilométrique Officielle des Chemins de Fer Suisses

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SKU: NL-01239 Categories: , Tag:
Date: ca. 1888
Place: Geneva
Dimensions: 96 x 63 cm (37.8 x 24.8 in)
Condition Rating: VG+
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Honestly, this is just a really cool map. It shows the extent of the rail transport system in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century. There is no date on the map, but we are able to make an accurate estimate based on the presence or lack of two alpine railways. It does depict the Gotthard Pass route, which opened in 1882, but does not include the line under the Simplon Pass, completed in 1906; the fact the Simplon Pass line is not even projected suggests the map is pre-1900. The map was printed as a chromolithograph and published in Geneva, where it was segmented and laid on linen, allowing the traveler to fold it up and take it on the road.

Swiss railways were constructed and operated by private companies until 1901 when the system was nationalized under the aegis of the Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses, or Schweizerische Bundesbahnen in German. The extent of the network is elegantly portrayed on this map, with an attractive yellow and red color scheme, with stylish fonts. Blue-green has been employed to delineate Switzerland’s famous lakes. An element of the map that we find particularly fascinating are three advertisements surrounding the network. Two of the advertisements have been printed directly, one for a fine custom-made dress shirt shop, and another for a photography house that offered portraits or portraits, with “instantaneous viewing.” Both businesses were located in Geneva. In addition, we find a Geneva-based booksellers’ stamp pasted in a designated area in the upper left corner of the map section.

Framing the map section is a series of fabulous black and white photographic vignettes. The scenes present important buildings and city landmarks (e.g. the Palais Fédéral in Berne or the Grand Théâtre of Geneva), and views of Switzerland’s famous natural beauty (e.g. snow capped mountains above Interlaken). Transport-related features are also depicted, for example the railway station at Zurich and several bridges, including arched bridges spanning a gorge along the Gotthard Pass. And finally, there are several panoramas of cities and countryside, including Fribourg, Brig, and Lucerne.


Chapalay & Mottier H. Chanel & Cie. Jules Decor

Jules Decor was a lithographic printer based in Geneva and active at the turn of the century.

Condition Description

Linen-backed folding map in very good condition with normal wear. Some spotting on verso.