Erdkarte von E. Von Sydow.


Date: 1851
Place: Gotha
Dimensions: 161 x 135 cm (63.5 x 53 in)
Condition Rating: VG

In stock

SKU: NL-02141 Category: Tags: ,

Von Sydow’s geophysical wall map of the world and its currents.


This evocative Prussian wall map of the world consists of five individual charts, including a geophysical double-hemisphere world map with a distinctive topographic color scheme. Von Sydow designed the scheme while teaching at the Cadet School in Erfurt in the 1830s, and it was later adopted universally as the world standard.

Von Sydow’s innovative cartographic methods earned acclaim from publishers and educators, leading to the publication of regional and world maps for educational purposes. He authored significant works on map projection and European cartography. Von Sydow’s expertise in military geography earned him a position in the Great General Staff in 1860, where he provided crucial support during military conflicts. His experimentation with photographic map reproduction techniques further revolutionized cartographic practices.

In the lower register, a central Mercator projection shows the world’s oceanic currents as they were understood in the mid-19th century. Flanking this image are two polar projections depicting the North and South Poles. These polar maps reveal how little was known about these frozen regions in the middle of the 19th century. Within 60 years, most of it would have been traversed and mapped.

Two profile views of stylized mountains crown the entire composition. These are meant to represent the climatic conditions at varying altitudes. This includes subtropical and moderate climate zones and the so-called snow line, which indicates the level needed for permanent snow cover. The same climatic zones have been shown on the main map (i.e., the double hemisphere), both as lines on the map and as notes in the surrounding graticule.



Emil von Sydow, the Prussian officer and compiler of this map, produced a range of large maps intended for display. In many of these, he varies the subset of maps, providing thematic variations on his world chart. This particular example focuses on topography, ocean currents, Polar projections, and the delineation of climatic zones based on altitude. It was part of a folder of seven lithographed maps entitled Wand-Atlas von E. von Sydow, published in 1851 in Gotha, Germany, by Justus Perthes.

While Von Sydow’s maps appear on the market at regular intervals, we have not identified any examples with the same composition as Neatline’s example. In general, a census of Sydow’s maps can be challenging, as many of the maps retain the same title—Erdkarte von E. Von Sydow—despite subtle variations.

The OCLC identifies two examples of the 1851 edition of this map at the LIBRIS library in Stockholm and the Technical University in Munich, Germany (no. 632748323).


Justus Perthes

Justus Perthes was a prominent German publishing firm that specialized in the production of maps, atlases, and geographical publications. The firm was founded in 1785 by Johann Georg Justus Perthes in Gotha, Germany. It became particularly well-known for its “Almanach de Gotha,” an annual directory that detailed the various royal and noble houses of Europe, as well as its significant contributions to cartography and geography through the publication of atlases such as the “Stielers Handatlas” and the “Gothaer Kartenwerke” (Gotha Cartographic Works).

Theodor Emil von Sydow

Theodor Emil von Sydow (July 15, 1812 – October 13, 1873) was a Prussian military officer, geographer, and cartographer born in Freiberg. His parents, Friedrich von Sydow and Wilhelmine von Criegern were esteemed figures in literature after his father retired from the military.

As a teacher at the Cadet School in Erfurt from 1832 to 1843, von Sydow pioneered the use of color lithography for wall maps, introducing a color scheme indicating terrain features. This scheme was later adopted in physical maps worldwide.

Von Sydow’s pedagogical expertise led to his appointment to the Ober-Militär-Examinations-Commission in Berlin in 1843. In 1855, he joined a publishing house, producing his works in multiple languages, including Swedish, Russian, and Italian. His legacy includes the renowned Sydow-Wagners Methodischer Schulatlas, which remained in publication until 1944.

Despite his success, Von Sydow’s personal life was filled with tragedy, including the loss of his sons in battle and his death from cholera.

Condition Description

Very good. Minor soiling.