Folio. 128 pp. with colour charts and maps, original blue linen binding with gilt lettering on the cover and spine, illustrated endpapers, original illustrated dustjacket (dustjacket with minor wear on the corners, front endpapers with minor scratches, otherwise in a good, seemingly unused example).
This is the first edition of the German legendary world atlas of the transportration and communications, with numberles combinations of colourful maps and charts.
The atlas was issued by VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt Gotha (the publishing arm of the Hermann Haack Geography-Cartography Institute in Gotha). The institute was the premier cartographic organization in East Germany (the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR) and was widely considered to be the most advanced autonomously operated map producer in the Eastern Block.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the DDR had become synonymous with bad industrial practices, however, the Hermann Haack Anstalt was a rare exception in that it maintained a very high standard of production in line with its pedigree. Indeed, the Haack Institute was the direct successor of the Justus Perthes Geographical Institute. Founded in Gotha in 1785, during the 19th Century the Perthes firm rose to become the preeminent map publisher in Germany. Its popular publications such as the Shul-Atlas and Steiler’s Hand-Atlas made the company the most financially successful cartography enterprise in Continental Europe. It was also responsible for ground-breaking thematic and scientific cartography as well as impressive wall maps.
Hermann Haack (1872-1966), one of pre-WWII Germany’s most prominent mapmakers, joined the Perthes firm in 1898 and eventually rose to become its director. Haack was credited for improving production quality and standardizing map symbols and colour coding. During WWII, in 1944, at the age of 72, Haack retired from the firm. In the wake of the war, while its personnel was depleted and production lagged, the physical operation at the Perthes Villa in Gotha remained unaffected and the firm continued to function.
The Communist government of the DDR nationalized the firm in 1953 and curiously invited Hermann Haack, then 81 years old, to return to lead the enterprise under its new name, the Hermann Haack Anstalt. While the company was to be wholly owned by the state, Haack was given an unusually high degree of autonomy and ample resources to ensure that the quality of production approached pre-war levels. While never overtly political, Haack had maintained friendly contacts with Communists and labour leaders during the 1920s and 1930s, and was ideologically acceptable to the new regime. The Haack Anstalt was granted the DDR monopoly on the production of school maps and all civilian wall maps. With technical abilities that far exceeded those of the remaining cartographic institutes throughout the Warsaw Pact countries, it serviced many external commissions, notably from the Soviet Union.