This incredibly detailed and precise world map was designed by the prominent German cartographer Hermann Berghaus and is one of the most impressive productions of the ‘Gotha School’ of cartography which prioritized scientific exactitude and clarity. In very high quality colour lithography, it showcases the entire world on a Mercator Projection in a very large format, carefully colour coding countries, noting large jurisdictions and labelling innumerable cities and topographical features. It shows the world just near the end of the Victorian Era when the European powers had pretty much completely divided up Asia and Africa between themselves, while North America was well settled coast-to-coast.
Of note, the map charts dozens of ocean currents and shipping routes, then the lifelines of global trade; the large table in the bottom centre details the principal international steamship lines. It also traces major railroads, such as the under construction Trans-Siberian Railway and the transcontinental railways in North America.
The three insets in the lower part of the map detail the telegraph lines, wind currents, and the world in hemispheres projected from the Poles.
The first edition of Berghaus’s map was issued in 1863 by the revered publishing house of the Geographical Institute of Justus Perthes in Gotha (est. 1772), a pioneering maker of thematic and grand topographic maps. Published in the English language for the global market, it proved highly popular and ran into fourteen regularly updated editions until 1909 (the present example is of the twelfth edition). The latter editions, such as the present, were revised by Berghaus’s colleagues Hermann Habenicht and Bruno Domann.
Hermann Berghaus (1828 – 1890) was a respected cartographer in the employ of the Perthes Institute, and the the nephew of the globally important mapmaker Heinrich Berghaus (1797 – 1884). Hermann was renowned for his attention to exacting detail, so much so that his eyesight failed due to his countless hours correcting minutiae. The sequence that included the present map is perhaps his most famous work; however, he also known for his wall map of Africa, Wand-Karte von Afrika (c. 1881) and his revision of his uncle’s Physikalischer Atlas (1886).
References: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin: Kart. 27246 Wa; OCLC: 493464866, 66168167, 249811558.