Welcome to the International Cartographic Association
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Map of the Month 04/2014: Back in time feature on Géoportail
Map of the Month 03/2014: Tongariro National Park
Map of the Month 02/2014: Collins World Watch

Pinhas Yoeli (1920–2011)

The International Cartographic Association is saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Pinhas Yoeli. In 2005 Prof Yoeli received an Honorary Fellowship from the International Cartographic Association.

Prof Yoeli was born on 1 July 1920 in Bayreuth, Germany. In 1936 he immigrated to Israel (then British mandatory Palestine) and, in 1938 he volunteered into the Israeli pre-state army, the Hagana. He later headed the Topography Department. In 1948, he established and commanded the Cartography Department of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Later he was also appointed deputy director of the Israel Survey Department.

From 1952 to 1956 he studied at the faculty of Geodesy and Cartography at ETH in Zürich, Switzerland, where he received his degree (Dip. Ing. ETH). In 1957 he was released from the IDF and started teaching at the Israeli Technological Institute (Teknion) in Haifa, Israel. He quickly attained the post of Associate Professor and was appointed the head of the Department of Geodesy and Cartography in the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

In 1972 he was appointed Full Professor in the Faculty of Geography at Tel Aviv University. He worked until his retirement in 1991 when he became Professor Emeritus till his death on 4 April 2011. From 1988 to 1991 he was chairman of the Israeli Cartographic Association.

Over the years, Professor Yoeli was invited for Sabbaticals to many academic institutes and universities throughout the world, including Switzerland (teaching and researching at the ETH Zürich and the Zürich University), Australia (at RMIT), England and USA. In addition, he worked as a consultant to well known cartographic firms in Switzerland, Sweden and Scotland.

He published many papers in all major international cartographic journals. His book, Cartographic Drawing With Computers, the first in its kind, was published by the University of Nottingham, UK in 1982.

Professor Yoeli’s contributions to Cartography and GI Science are respected by the international academic and professional Cartography and GI Science communities. The awards he received in Israel and internationally for his research reflects the esteem in which he was held globally.

The International Cartographic Association extends its sincere sympathy to Professor Yoeli’s widow, Agnes, his family, friends and colleagues.

William Cartwright

Category: General News

Jacques Bertin (1918–2010)

Jacques Bertin was born in 1918 in Maisons-Laffite. He studied geography at La Sorbonne. In 1954 he created the Cartographic Laboratory of the École pratique des hautes etudes (EPHE) and became its director. Later he was director of the Graphics Laboratory of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), before becoming a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Jacques Bertin worked on the efficacy of thematic maps and their design improvements. He analysed visual effects on the transmission of information and the necessity for classification and application of hierarchy to data by means of different processes, including the ordered matrix. Bertin’s ground breaking research brought him international recognition, especially his work on semiotics and the subsequent publication of the famous Sémiologie Graphique. Les diagrammes, les réseaux, les cartes in 1967, with two new editions appearing in 1973 and 1999.

Jacques Bertin was the Chair of the Commission on Terminology of the French Committee of Cartography. He received the prestigeous Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal at the 1999 ICA Conference in Ottawa, the highest award of the International Cartographic Association awarded to cartographers of outstanding merit who have made significant contributions of an original nature to the field of cartography.

He died in Paris on 3 May 2010.

In honour of Jacques Bertin and to celebrate his work and contribution to cartography, the French Committee of Cartography added two special sessions to the programme of ICC 2011 in Paris. On Monday, 4 July, Gilles Palsky will officially present Jacques Bertin’s life and work. Following this, different cartographers from around the world will present their research either inspired or influenced by Bertin. Last but not least, a special Café Carto dedicated to Jacques Bertin will be arranged.

Anne Ruas, Comité Français de Cartographie


Esri Press has recently republished Semiology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, Maps by Jacques Bertin.

This cartographic classic has continuously held its place of significance. Now, with a new epilogue written by the author shortly before his death, this new 2010 edition in English reawakens us to the information design possibilities of modern technology. Bertin was thrilled to know that this book would be coming out and that there was still immense interest in his work and dedication to keeping it alive. For ordering, visit esripress.esri.com/display/index.cfm.

Category: General News

Centenary of the birth of Konstantin Alexeevich Salishchev (1905–1988)

salischevOn November 20, 2005 will be the centenary jubilee of Konstantin A. Salishchev – the well-known Russian cartographer, who did a lot for the development of cartographic science and the International Cartographic Association (ICA).

From 1956 till 1972 he chaired the Commission for National and Regional Atlases of the International Geographical Union; in London/Edinburgh (1984) he was elected Vice-President of ICA, and in Delhi (1968) President for the next 4-year period.

The activities of Prof. Salishchev were focused on geography and cartography. When young, he actively participated in expeditions to North-East Asia under the leadership of S. Obruchev. As a result of this work which was carried out from the end of the 1920′s till the middle of the 1930′s, detailed maps of the Anadyr, Kolyma and Indigirka river basins and a considerable part of Chukotka were produced. The discovery and mapping of the Chersky mountain-range and of the ‘pole of cold’ near Oimyakon were the most important results of the research during that period. The world community got acquainted with these studies through Salischev’s publications of 1933–35 in Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen and in the Geographical Review.

Presentation of Mannerfelt Medal to Professor Salichtchev, Moscow 1981. From right to left, Salichtchev, Komkov, Ormeling and Hedbom

Presentation of Mannerfelt Medal to Professor Salichtchev, Moscow 1981. From right to left, Salichtchev, Komkov, Ormeling and Hedbom

The compilation of the Great Soviet Atlas of the World was the next stage of his work (1936–38). Since then he was deeply interested in atlas theme for all his life. He chaired the editorial board of the Atlas on the History of Geographic Discoveries and Investigations (1959) and was a member of editorial boards of the Sea Atlas (1950–53), Physical-Geographical Atlas of the World (1964) and Atlas of Oceans (1974–80).

Prof. Salishchev was the author of many articles dealing with atlas mapping. Among the most fundamental results of activities of the IGU National and Regional Atlases Commission chaired by Prof. Salishchev for 16 years were the monographs National atlases: their history, analysis, ways of improvement and standardisation (1960 in Russian and French, 1972 in English) and Regional atlases: trends of development, content of maps of natural conditions and resources (1964 in Russian and English).

Professor and Mrs. Salichtchev aboard Wolga steamer during conference excursion 1976.

Professor and Mrs. Salichtchev aboard Wolga steamer during conference excursion 1976.

Prof. Salishchev initiated the organization of the Laboratory of Integrated Mapping at the Moscow State University Faculty of Geography in 1964. A number of scientific and reference atlases have been created there: of Irkutsk oblast (1962), Kustanay oblast (1964), Northern Kazakhstan (1971), Tumen oblast (volume 1 – 1971, volume 2 – 1976), Altai Territory (volume 1 – 1978, volume 2 – 1980). Recently, the Environmental Atlas of Russia (2002) was compiled there, as well as a series of atlases for secondary; the Atlas of Khanty-Mansi Okrug is being prepared there now for publishing. The Laboratory rendered methodological assistance in the creation of the national atlases of Moldavia, Kirgizia, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Lithuania, and of atlases of the oblasts of Perm, Tomsk, Sakhalin and others.

In 1974 the Laboratory started a new fundamental research on maps for high schools, as Prof. Salishchev came to chair the Scientific and Editorial Council on maps for high schools. The work has resulted in the series of general geographic and thematic maps of the World (1:15 000 000), the USSR (1:4 000 000 and 1:8 000 000), the European part of the USSR (1:2 000 000), foreign countries of Eastern Europe (1:1 000 000), geographic maps of the world, continents and of regions of the USSR as well as the series of educational topographic maps at different scales. By 1996 7 thematic maps of the world, 21 maps of the USSR and its regions, 4 maps of East-European countries, 12 general geographic maps and 6 sets of topographic maps had been created.

Prof. Salishchev always took a keen interest in the theory and methodology of cartography which became the topic of many articles and of a monograph (Salishchev K.A. Ideas and theoretical problems of cartography of the 1980s. – M.: VINITI of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 1982, v. 10, 156 p.). He actively upheld his views and ideas in polemics with foreign and Russian cartographers and geographers. In 1967 he became the laureate of the Anuchin Prize for his works on the theory of cartography.

He suggested the idea of using maps to get knowledge about the environment. His first article on this topic was published in 1948, and he discussed this idea for many times (see the bibliography of Salishchev’s works for 1955–1984 in the anniversary collection of papers Geographical Cartography, a look at the future. Ed. by G.I. Rychagov, A.M. Berlyant, V.S. Tikunov. M., MSU, 1986, and other publications till 1988).

He was always ready to respond to new ideas and trends in cartography, such as cartographic modelling or the application of remote sensing methods for thematic mapping, and a great number of his contributions concerned the prospects of automation in cartography – it is on this base that the development of geoinformation science started in Russia.

Textbooks by Prof. Salishchev were translated and published in China, Germany, Poland and Cuba. His textbook Basics of cartology was rewarded with the Golden Medal of N.M. Przhevalsky (1963) and in 1984 it was rewarded with a second Golden Medal. Prof. Salishchev was honorary member of scientific societies in the USSR, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Columbia, Scotland, Poland, USA, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary and Honorary Doctor of Berlin’s Humboldt University and Warsaw University. He was the laureate of many awards both in Russia and abroad. Prof. Salishchev was one of the first to receive the Carl Mannerfelt Medal, in 1980, which is awarded by the ICA for outstanding achievements in the international collaboration of cartographers. In 1965 he was nominated Honored Scientist of Russia.

He was also awarded the State Prize of the USSR for his contribution to the compilation of the Atlas of Oceans (1980).

We would like to recall our personal contacts with Prof. Salishchev:

Milan Konecny

The first time I met Professor Salishchev in Moscow, MGU was in 1980 at his office. At that time I was going through a 3-month stage in the Geographical faculty, dividing my interests between anthropogenic geomorphology and cartography. I used many mathematical-cartographic approaches started by prof. Salishchev and further developed by his successors. At the time of our meeting, Prof. Salishchev was a pleasant and attentive host, but in matters of cartography he was very convinced of his own truth. His ideas were based on the “Theory of reflection” but at the same time he looked also into philosophical sources from all parts of the former USSR and abroad.

He had an excellent cartographical overview of domestic, European and World development and he was a very temperamental disputant.

As a former president of ICA, he had a very good reputation in both parts of the world divided by the iron curtain. He was also a strong symbol of cartography in the former Central and Eastern Europe.

Very interesting were Prof. Salishchev’s comments and ideas on the coming “scientific-technological revolution”. His school was prepared for the new technological situation by developing the idea of mathematical-cartographical modelling, the role of satellite images in cartography, discussions about the role of the map image as a resource for data and information for geographical research as well as research in other scientific disciplines. In personal talks he welcomed new technologies and expected them to bring new and progressive development of cartography, but at the same time he stressed that cartography had to take care about the content and quality of data and information. He did not expect any crises of cartography at the end of 80s and 90s when our science lost its previous strong positions and did not deal well with new technologies like GIS, remote sensing, GPS and others. Today the importance of cartography is growing up again.

Globally operating companies need cartographical methodology and knowledge for the time when ambient technologies are coming, big GIS vendors again invest millions of dollars into the development of cartographical tools. The question how to use cartography effectively for cartographic visualisation and representation of geographic data, information and knowledge on the basis of so called SDIs is the topic of the day on most of the continents. And also here Prof. Salishchev is with us. His ideas to create maps and atlases according to unified legends, at the same scales, his thoughts about necessary creation of metadata were in fact ideas about “SDIs” in cartography. In his time the World was different and our societies and various communities were not sufficiently prepared. Therefore, some of his ideas are realized today simultaneously with the development of Information/Knowledge-Based Societies and as well as in different political, economical and social conditions compared to Salishchev’s times. I am certain that if he was still with us nowadays, he would have been preparing a representative presentations of Russian cartography for the coming ICC’s in A Coruna (2005) and Moscow (2007). Prof. K.A. Salishchev was one of the best cartographers in the world and contributed a lot to development of the world cartography.

Ferjan Ormeling

The first time I participated in a conversation with Prof Salishchev was when he visited our home in 1967, during the Amsterdam ICA conference. I still remember that he was rather skeptical at the way my father had acquired this house, and did not believe my father’s claims that he had earned it himself; university professors were well-paid at the time in the Netherlands. The second time was in 1976, during the Moscow ICA conference. In 1974 I had published a paper on 50 years of Soviet Cartography (1917–1974), that had been translated in The American Cartographer, and that claimed, as an aside, that there were conscious distortions on those topographical maps and town plans of the USSR, that were available to foreigners. This publication was rather awkward for my father who at the time was Secretary-General of the ICA, and who hastened to tell Salishchev (who was organizing the next ICA conference in Moscow) that it was not he who had written the article (we have the same initials). Salishchev had not forgotten this and when he saw me next in Moscow he told me he found my contribution rather unscholarly. But this did not detract from my admiration for him: for me he was a man of grand ideas, and the best one was his on national atlases.

You see, Salishchev worked for a long time on the unification and standardization of national atlases. He initiated studies on the scales and on the legends of the various map themes these atlases contained: economic maps, traffic and transportation maps, manufacturing maps, etc. And the grand idea behind all this was, that if all these aspects (scales and map legends and ways of presentation) of national atlases would be standardized, then we would – by putting these atlases side by side – have one big thematic atlas of the world.

It is only now that, through the new digital possibilities we have at our disposal that we are finally able to make this dream of Salishchev come true, but that does not diminish his endeavours: as a visionary he showed us the directions where to go!

Vladimir Tikunov

The first time I saw Prof. Salishchev in 1966, when I became a student of Geodesy and Cartography Department he was the head of. And I was fortunate enough to maintain good contacts with him till his death in 1988. His wide knowledge and, above all, fantastic dedication to work always produced a tremendous impression. He acquired information for his articles and textbooks grain by grain working without holidays and vacations, usually from 4 or 5 in the morning – “when everyday concerns do not pull you away”, as he often explained.

However it might be well to point out that he took an interest in many other aspects of life. He was, among other things, an expert in painting and chinaware and had a good collection of it. Famous galleries, such as Tretyakov, for example, and large exhibition halls of this country asked him from time to time to exhibit some of his works. He collected post stamps too, with map images, of course. When I was in London in 1977–78 for training at the Experimental Cartographic Unit of the Royal College of Arts (the idea was initiated by Prof. Salishchev and I’m still grateful to him for it) he personally asked me to bring him some particular post stamps he was interested in. He also was an expert in Georgian wines and dishes. Of course he had a large collection of maps and atlases and was very proud of it. Although Prof. Salishchev looked cool and restrained, he could talk with colleagues and even students for hours. And his eyes shone when he managed to have a look at old maps which were another passion of him. During his visits abroad, which unfortunately never took very long, he spent a lot of time in libraries and book depositories, feeling enjoyment from working with maps which had been inaccessible to him before.

All together we’d like to thank our lucky stars for the chance to have had contacts with Professor Konstantin A. Salishchev.


Milan Konecny, ICA President
Ferjan Konecny, ICA Secretary General
Vladimir Tikunov, ICA Vice-President

Category: General News

Arthur H. Robinson (1915–2004)

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson

Arthur H. Robinson, of 7707 N. Brookline Dr Apt 302, Madison, Wisconsin, died at Meriter Hospital in Madison on October 10, 2004 after a brief illness. Arthur Robinson was born in Montréal, Canada on January 5, 1915, the son of James Howard Robinson and Elizabeth (Peavey) Robinson. His early education was in the United States and in England, after which he took the Bachelor of Arts degree at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1936, the M.A. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison,

Wisconsin in 1938 and the Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1947.

From mid-1941 until 1946 he worked in Washington, DC with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, and for almost all of that time he was Chief of the Map Division of the OSS. In that position he supervised numerous types of cartographic work, including the preparation of nearly 5,000 maps, in support of the global war effort. During the war he was commissioned in the Army with the initial rank of captain, and was later promoted to major. For his distinguished service in the OSS he received the Legion of Merit.

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

Opening reception at the 9th Conference, University of Maryland, 1978. From left to right, Dr. and Mrs. de Henseler (UN), Professor and Mrs. Robinson, Vice-President Bartholomew

In 1945 the University of Wisconsin at Madison offered Robinson a faculty position in the Department of Geography, and he began teaching there in 1946. He rose rapidly in the ranks of the faculty, becoming Professor of Geography and, in 1967, Lawrence Martin Professor of Cartography. He retired in 1980 with the rank of Professor Emeritus.

During his long career he produced fifteen books and monographs, one of which, Elements of Cartography, went through six editions and became the preeminent textbook in cartography. However, the contribution for which he is probably best known to the public was the creation of the Robinson Projection, a map projection that he referred to as “a portrait of the earth.” In 1988 the National Geographic Society adopted that projection as its standard for producing world maps. The Robinson projection was adopted by agencies of the U.S. Government and many other users.

Robinson’s work was internationally recognized, and among his many honors were two honorary degrees (from Miami University (Ohio) and from Ohio State University), the Distinguished Service Award and the Helen Culver Gold Medal from the Geographic Society of Chicago, the Carl Mannerfelt Medal of the International Cartographic Association, the Silver Medal of the British Cartographic Society, and the John Oliver LaGorce Medal of the National Geographic Society. He served as president of the International Cartographic Association, and as vice president and president of the Association of American Geographers.

Robinson’s marriage of more than 50 years to the former Mary Elizabeth Coffin ended in 1992 with her death. He later remarried, and is survived by his wife Martha E. Robinson of Madison, son Stephen M. Robinson (Chong-Suk Robinson) of Madison, daughter Patricia A. Robinson (Leslie Kramer) of Sonoita, Arizona, stepdaughter Carita Baker (Ron Baker) of Hamilton, Ohio, stepson Carl James Phillips (Sandie Phillips) of Hamilton, Ohio, stepdaughter Clarissa Lowry (Miles Lowry) of Wheaton, IL, granddaughter Diana M. Oestreich (Nathan Oestreich) of Menlo Park, California, grandson James A. Robinson of Palo Alto, California, and families of the above.

Stephen M. Robinson

Further reading: Arthur H. Robinson is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal

Category: General News

Ferdinand Jan Ormeling (1912–2002)

A very special man, one of the great geographers and cartographers of our time – known to many as ‘Mr ICA’ – died on 1 May 2002. Not a moment of his often hyperactive life was wasted as he expanded his knowledge of the World and its people.

This genuinely charismatic man shared himself constantly through teaching, organisation and leadership, influencing others and helping change things for the better. His powerful intellect and special capacity for building bridges of friendship were in evidence throughout his life.

Born on 12 April 1912, his early childhood was spent in Amsterdam and in nearby Hilversum, where he experienced some of the difficulties, if not the damage, associated with WW1. After completing elementary studies at Hilversum High School he attended the State University of

Utrecht to read geography and history and went on to teach at grammar schools in Hilversum and The Hague. The Netherlands were invaded early in WW2 and this painful occupation continued until liberation in 1945. As a member of the Dutch Army, and true to his own character, Ormeling refused to succumb and joined the underground movement.

The War also affected the Netherlands’ Indonesian colonies where the Pacific conflicts had profound effect. In 1945, at the end of the Japanese occupation, Ormeling was sent, as part of an expeditionary force, to restore order to that troubled land. During the ensuing war-filled years, as a geographer/cartographer he was transferred from field activities to become part of the new Geographical Institute (formed in 1947 as part of the former government mapping organisation) in the capital, Batavia (Jakarta). Here he was involved in many important cartographic and geographical projects. With independence in 1949 most of the Dutch returned to Europe, but not Ormeling. The fact that he was asked, by those who had previously been foes, to remain and continue his work (in office and field), is convincing evidence of his special intellectual and personal qualities. Full recognition of this came in 1950 when he was appointed (at the young age of 37) as Head of the Institute, with almost 50 employees. The work evolved to include not only small-scale mapping and increasingly important geographical surveys of the country but also the education and training of the staff of the Indonesian Topographic Service.

During the years that followed he developed his knowledge of the country, in particular the Island of Timor (almost twice the size of the Netherlands) which became a focus of research into ethnic and socioeconomic factors. His pioneering study, ‘The Timor Problem, a Geographical Interpretation of an underdeveloped island’, not only gained him a Doctorate of Social Sciences from the University of Indonesia, but, on publication, it became a best-seller.

By the end of his 20-year Indonesian sojourn in 1955 he had demonstrated unequivocally his intellectual abilities in geography and mapping, his facility for organisation and leadership and his capacity for work. He had also developed a deep understanding of the people of developing countries and their problems.

His return home, at the age of only 43, was to herald a new phase in his life.

Having joined J.B. Wolters of Groningen, his major work would lie within cartography, especially the modernisation of their main atlas products.

Until 1963 he was fully employed by the company but continued thereafter as an expert consultant. He not only edited nine editions of the Grote Bosatlas and six editions of the Kleene Bosatlas but oversaw major changes in level of collaboration between users (teachers) and producers, in map style, content and design, as well as in improvements in effectiveness and economy of production. However, in parallel with these outstanding achievements he would also begin to develop (in his ‘spare time’!) his facility to motivate colleagues and stimulate links within geography and mapping, at home and abroad. The first result was a new Cartographic Section in the Royal Netherlands Geographical Society (which he chaired until 1968) and he also helped consolidate the many cartographic groups within the Netherlands into The Dutch Cartographic Society in 1975. He became the first President (1967–71) of the new enlarged Royal Netherlands Geographical Society (now incorporating many small geographical associations).

Between 1967 and 1984 he was a major representative of both the Netherlands and the ICA on the UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names and chaired the Working Group on Education and Training in Toponymy.

Although his atlas consultancy work continued after departure from Wolters, he was appointed in 1964 as Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Amsterdam and established a Research Institute in the subject. In 1971 he was appointed Professor at ITC following the Institute’s transfer from Delft to Enschede. There he established and became Head of the new Department of Cartography.

He had already noted the demise of traditional cartography with the rise of the quantitative revolution in Geography in the 1960s and ensured that the new ITC department was fully equipped with the latest computer facilities.

During his early years with Wolters, Ormeling (with Cornelius Koeman) led key discussions about the proposed establishment of the ICA, which eventually took place in Bern in 1959. He was a firm supporter of its founding principles which emerged during the first five years under Eduard Imhof’s presidency, and enthusiastically accepted election to the position of Secretary/Treasurer at the London/Edinburgh Conference and General Assembly (1964). The next technical conference took place three years later in Amsterdam under his directorship and is believed to have established a new informal and friendly family atmosphere which would become commonplace at future events. His pro-active and energetic 12-year support of Presidents Thackwell, Salitchtchev and Robinson is now legendary, supported most generously by ITC. He was elected President in Moscow (1976) and proceeded through two strong terms, ably supported by Olof Hedbom as Secretary/Treasurer, ending in Perth, Australia in 1984. At his final Conference/General Assembly in Morelia he presented his personal record of ICA entitled ‘ICA 1959–1984: The First Twenty-five Years of the International Cartographic Association’. His own 20-year period as a senior office-holder saw the introduction of many significant changes, relating to Commissions, Working Groups, statutes, etc.

A special example was the establishment of a medal for ICA’s highest distinction in recognition of the Swedish initiator of the ICA, Carl Mannerfelt. His personal experience of working for ICA was also memorable, punctuated by such as travel mishaps, a near fatal car crash in West Africa and a scary encounter (accompanied by John Bartholomew) in the bullring at the Madrid Conference of 1974!

Not surprisingly Ormeling has a long and distinguished list of publications extending from his Doctoral Thesis. It includes papers, books and atlases and echoes the many changes which have taken place during these turbulent years of cartography in the second half of the twentieth century. His retirement years were only slightly less busy than before as he continued to research, publish and accept speaking engagements.

His own lifetime of achievement has been awarded on many occasions, examples being Honorary Membership of the Dutch Cartographic Society, Membre d’Honneur de la Societé de Géographie de France, Honorary Fellowships of the Australian Institute of Cartographers, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences, The Polish Geographical Society, and the ITC itself, The British Cartographic Society Medal and, in 1987, the Carl Mannerfelt Medal. In 1978 he was appointed ‘Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion’ by the Queen of the Netherlands.

Although he missed the first ICA General Assembly in Paris, 1961 through work, he attended every other Technical Conference and General Assembly between 1962 and 1987, and continued as a regular visitor at ICA after his official responsibilities came to an end. He was, sadly, unable to attend the ICC 2001 in Beijing, China, but love and respect radiated from the international audience at the opening ceremony when he sent his video greeting. His passing has undoubtedly left a painful gulf in the lives of many, especially his dear wife, Rini (often described as the ‘Queen of ICA’ for her own outstanding support for him and our Association), and the children Piet, Hein, Ferjan, Ina, and Erik, Sonja and Roger. Apart from his great circle of ICA friends the other special people who will always treasure his memory are his students in the Netherlands and across the World. However our friend and colleague Fer Ormeling has left much more than a memory. This was a truly charismatic man, described by friends as ‘a demanding organiser’, ‘a fascinating speaker and entertainer’, and ‘a talented linguist… with a good sense of humour’.

This writer will always remember the warmth of his company, his ever-present smile and the twinkle in his eye. A fundamental law of physics states that energy cannot be destroyed, only changed in form. The energy released by Ferdinand J. Ormeling during his dynamic life of creativity, guidance and leadership, is thus still active within people and organisations throughout the world today. His was a life that truly made a difference.

M. Wood


Acknowledgements: Hedbom, O, Bohme, R, 1989, ‘Ferdinand J Ormeling: a Biography’, in ‘Cartography, Past, Present and Future’, Rhind, D W, and Taylor, D R F, Eds. Elsevier, 1989.

Category: General News

Olof W. Hedbom (1920–2001)

Olof W. Hedbom

Olof W. Hedbom

On July 4 our good friend Olof W. Hedbom died of a rapidly spreading cancer.

The cartographic community will remember him as a prominent representative with an outstanding record of service. On national level Hedbom made a career as cartographic designer and atlas editor. He rose from the rank of draughtsman engaged with the Litografiska Anstalt Esselte to general manager of the map publishing firm Liber Kartor. Continually Olof maintained fruitful relations with geographers who knew how to appreciate his ability to visualize terrestrial phenomena. At an advanced age he made himself familiar – reluctantly but with success – with computer mapping. He leaves behind an impressive series of atlases, predominantly educational, most of them excelling in clarity and legibility.

In his thirties Olof participated in the so called Esselte Conference on Applied Cartography held in Sweden in 1956 which laid the foundation of an International Cartographic Association (ICA) in which he himself would later play an important role. He served the Association in the successive capacities of Vice-President (1972–1976) and Secretary-Treasurer (1976–1984). During these years I had the pleasure of visiting many countries together with Olof to discuss a diversity of ICA-questions among which membership and subscription problems, conference and seminar venues. As certain countries in those days refused visa to conference participants for political reasons sometimes tricky affairs had to be solved. Our frequent contacts led to good relations between our families. Repeatedly Olof was a welcome guest in our home in Holland.

His knowledge of the historical background and economic situation of the visited countries facilitated contacts. His remarks often spiced with humour moved people to abandon their reservations. He displayed his faculties on many occasions in a variety of now and then critical circumstances.

Getting acquainted with the Chinese Association of Geodesy and Cartography. Secretary Hedbom serving Peking duck, Peking, 22 January 1979.

Getting acquainted with the Chinese Association of Geodesy and Cartography. Secretary Hedbom serving Peking duck, Peking, 22 January 1979.

So I remember our first contact with the Chinese in the 1970’s to discuss their possible ICA membership when Olof animated a formal dinner by serving Peking Duck, their favourite dish, to our hosts. Not to forget our visit in 1981 to Poland where Martial Law was proclaimed and where we succeeded to safeguard the planned conference in Warsaw.

In recognition of his merits the General Assembly of the ICA presented him in 1989 with the Honorary Membership.

Finally we wish his dear sister Ingegerd and his children Lars, Ulrika and Ann-Sofie, who together took care of him until the bitter end, strength to bear and overcome their loss.

My wife and I will always remember Olof’s warm friendship!

F. J. Ormeling Sen.

Further reading: Honorary Fellowship for Olof Hedbom

Category: General News

Harold Fullard (1915–2001)

Harold Fullard and Roger Anson, Outgoing and Incoming Chairman of the Publications Committee in City dress.

Harold Fullard and Roger Anson, Outgoing and Incoming Chairman of the Publications Committee in City dress.

On February 1 2001 our colleague and friend Harold Fullard suddenly passed away.

He died from a heart attack in his beloved garden in Birkhampsted, Berkshire. Harold was born on 23 April 1915 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He read geography and anthropology at the University of Manchester and graduated in 1936. Equipped with this luggage he entered into the service of Publishers George Philip & Son, London, where he specialised in atlas cartography.

The war years inevitably interrupted this activity. Serving in the Royal Engineers Survey he was engaged in the mapping of Normandy and the Low Countries. In 1944 he was posted to India, then Ceylon and Singapore. He returned to Philip in 1946, where he climbed the ladder from geographical assistant to Director and Cartographic Editor in Chief. He retired officially in 1980 and continued to serve George Philip as consultant cartographer. During his career he prepared, edited and supervised the production of over 130 atlases, predominantly educational, covering many countries and most of them excelling in clarity and legibility. They were used by millions of people in schools, libraries and offices all over the world. In doing so, he became a man of international repute, whether modest Harold liked it or not!

Throughout his busy career he still made time for contributions to cartography in general. He was a founder member of the British Cartographic Society, was treasurer and council member from 1963–68,Vice-President in 1969, and President in 1970.

In addition, he was actively involved in the International Cartographic Association (ICA) from its foundation in the 1950’s. It will be obvious that his experience in international cartography proved to be extremely valuable for the consolidation and growth of the Association. He missed no Conference and by his lectures and writings he contributed to its prestige. For years he served as chairman of the ICA Publications Committee that he moulded into shape by revising its guidelines. During his chairmanship no less than 10 books, written by cartographers of diverging backgrounds and most of them drastically edited by Fullard, were added to the list of ICA Publications. The Seventh General Assembly of the Association, held in Perth, Australia in 1984, presented him with the Honorary Fellowship. On the national level the Royal Society presented him with the Murchison Award for his contribution to educational cartography.

Finally, in recognition of his many merits he was awarded an OBE in the 1980’s,after his retirement. We express our gratitude for all that Harold stood for and brought about and passed on to others. Finally we wish his dear wife Nancy, her two sons and daughter courage and strength to bear and overcome their loss.

F. J. Ormeling Snr.

Further reading: Honorary Fellowship for Harold Fullard

Category: General News

Richard E. Dahlberg (1928–1996)

1997-dahlbergSince the ICA conference in Morelia in 1987, the Commission on Education and Training has operated under joint command – that of Richard Dahlberg and myself. This came suddenly to an end last December when Richard died aged 68. He had been ill since last August when, all set for joining the joint ICA commissions seminar in Santiago de Chile, he was hospitalized for what seemed to be an ulcer. At the hospital it proved to be a malign tumor. Still, the outlook was mildly favourable at first, and we made plans for a meeting at the forthcoming ICA conference in Stockholm. This was not to be, as his situation suddenly deteriorated, with this tragic result on December 15 1996.

Richard was born in Erie, on Lake Erie, in 1928 and during his military training was able to follow courses in geography at George Washington University where he got his BA degree. This was followed up later in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he took his M.A. and with a PhD in geography at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After graduating, together with his wife Patricia he took up teaching posts in Los Angeles, and Syracuse and finally he became chair of the Geography Department at the University of Northern Illinois in DeKalb. There he organized one of the more important MSc cartography programmes in the United States (and almost succeeded in adding a PhD programme) as well as the NIU Lab for Cartography and Spatial Analysis. Richard became the foremost publicist on cartographic education programmes in the United States, advocating a stronger cooperation between the sister sciences in the surveying and mapping field, especially between remote sensing and cartography. So he was the natural choice to represent the US in CET from its early days: Richard succeeded Brice Burroughs as such in 1972.

We first met that year in a train entering the German Democratic Republic. Patricia and Richard were having discus­sions with the local border guards about their visas. We were on our way to Weimar in order to discuss the contributions to the Basic Cartography manual CET was producing. Richard was an active member of the commission and had an important part in the Wuhan Seminar on Advanced Cartographic Education and Training (SACET) in 1986. Patricia who was actively participating in the Chinese-American association at NIU and who had hosted a Chinese family was able to join him as well. Those careless days at the WTUSM in Wuhan, where the foreign lecturers had their meals together, as a group participated in rock concerts and in motorized trips to visit the panda in Wuhan zoo now seem very remote indeed.

As we had cooperated well in the production of the exercise manual that was to accompany the Basic Cartography Series as well as in other CET projects, it was a logical step to jointly succeed Karl-Heinz Meine the next year when he stepped down as chair of CET in Morelia in 1987.

From 1987 onwards, Richard co-organized (joint ICA commissions-or) CET seminars in Munich (1988), Enschede (1989), Budapest (1989), Bangkok (1991), College Park (1992), Chicago (1993), Visegrad (1993), Bangkok (1994), Istanbul (1994) and Madrid (1995). He continued his support of CET despite his heavy involvement in the American Cartographic Association, as editor of the American Cartographer/Cartography and GIS, and as member of the board and President of ACSM. Counting Yogyakarta (1984) as well, Santiago would have been his 16th CET seminar, not connected to any regular ICA conference.

Richard’s contribution was especially important in the theoretical field. It was he who decided on the theoretical issues to be tackled, and who compiled the relevant texts in the correct terminology. He also had the necessary contacts with representatives of the sister sciences, essential for Basic Cartography volume 3, and who could convene a representative selection of those representatives in order to discuss basic concepts in the surveying and mapping field. We were to have held a follow-up seminar on this issue to commemorate his retirement, last year in DeKalb, but we left it until too late. It would have been a fitting tribute.

Richard lived for teaching. He spent a large amount of time preparing his lectures, even during the seminars – CET members will remember Richard sitting in “his” study (requisitioned from one of the directors), at the Land Development Department in Bangkok, putting the finishing touches to the lectures he presented there. The FIPSE exchange students from my university in Utrecht that spent semesters in DeKalb were all enthusiastic about Richard’s lectures and his support. At the end of last December one of them graduated, and as I handed her diploma she talked again about her time in DeKalb. I did not have the heart to spoil her day and tell her Richard had just died.

Despite an increasing deafness that bothered him a bit in his work and the heavy investments in time required by the fact that his Dean assigned him some new teaching tasks the last year before his retirement, Richard kept making time for CET’s activities. Even when he had to decline to join us for our next seminar in Gifu, Japan, I knew he would be there when really needed. Richard Dahlberg is already sorely missed.

Ferjan Ormeling


I first met Dick Dahlberg over 30 years ago. We both attended the Quantitative Institute in Geography, a six week workshop organised by Ned Taaffe at Ohio State University in Columbus in 1965. It was my first visit to the United States and shall never forget the way he subtly imparted information and gave me advice on the American way of life. It was a real pleasure to work with him and to meet him again at many ICA conferences over the last 25 years. He was very positive and generous in spirit and will be sorely missed.

Chris Board

Category: General News
Tag: ,

Eduard Imhof (1895–1986)

Translation of article in Dutch in Kartografisch Tijdschrift, 1986, nr. 3 by F. J. Ormeling Sr.

Youth in Graubünden (Grisons)

Eduard Imhof in his studio in Erlenbach, Switzerland

Eduard Imhof in his studio in Erlenbach, Switzerland

Eduard Imhof was born on 25 January 1895 in Schiers, at the foot of the Ratikon in the centre of the impressive mountainous region of the Swiss Canton of Graubünden (Grisons). He was fortunate that he was born and grew up in a country that was not split by political polarisation, revolution or war, something exceptional for any European during the first half of the Twentieth Century, and so he was able to develop his talents without hindrance.

Events during his youth in Graubünden had a considerable influence on his career, if not determining it. His father, a geography teacher, ranked as one of the foremost authorities on the surrounding Bündner Mountains. Commissioned by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), he compiled travel guides for mountain tourists, guides which demanded careful field survey. Son Eduard, who appeared to possess an exceptional talent for drawing, was fascinated by his father’s work, and took part in his mountain expeditions from childhood, through which he became familiar with the then current 1:50 000 Siegfried map as well as with its imperfections. Sketch book and drawing materials became inseparable companions of the young mountain climber who, as a high school scholar from Zürich and later, as an undergraduate, helped Imhof Sr. with drawing. Following his father’s death, he even edited the SAC guide for the Ratikon mountain chain himself (1936). The thoroughness with which he worked is evident from the fact that he discovered 14 different routes for climbing the Schesaplana (2985 m.), the highest peak of the Ratikon, all of which were drawn in on a sketch map of that massif.

The pinnacle of Imhof’s career as an alpinist was formed during his years as an undergraduate. His operating range extended far outside Graubünden, way into the Bernese Oberland and Valais. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, he was away for weeks at a time, while Imhof Sr. took care of provisioning, supplies being left at previously agreed locations.

After becoming established as a professor and as a family man, the opportunities for mountain expeditions decreased. However, during official tours of duty and representative trips abroad, the passion of youth was re-kindled. In Turkey, where he was an advisor to the Topographical Survey, he climbed Mount Ararat. A cartographic conference in Chicago gave him the opportunity to travel through the Rocky Mountains. In China, he mapped the region of the Minya Konka (7590 m.). From Stockholm, where he was attending a geographers’ conference, he climbed Norway’s highest mountain, the Galdhoppig. An awe-inspiring collection of water colours, sketches and lithographs, demonstrate the artistic spin-off effect of his mountain trips. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, 1985, the SAC, an organisation within which he held office on several committees, and which had installed him as an honorary member, held an exhibition comprising 60 examples of his work in the Art Gallery of Steffisburg, nearby Thun. During the memorial service on 2 May 1986, in the Evangelical Church at Erlenbach, hometown of the deceased, the President of the SAC delivered the last honours.

Undoubtably, it must have been difficult for high school pupil Imhof to choose which field of study to follow: the academy of art or engineering. His art teacher was of the opinion that his terrain sketches were “too topographical, too scientific, insufficiently artistically minded”. His later teacher of topography, Professor Fridlin Becker, whom he worshipped, considered his sketches as “too artistic, insufficiently topographic”. Finally, the decision was made in favour of studying geodesy at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, and it will not be surprising that, partly under the influence of Professor Becker, himself a zealous promoter of relief representation, he specialised in mountain topography and cartography, a subject in which he found it possible to direct his talents towards a single goal. Further, studying at the ETH provided him with an extremely useful basic knowledge of geography, which, in later years as an atlas editor, gained so much depth that geographers regarded him as one of their own. From 1936 to 1939, he was President of the United Swiss Geographic Societies.

In 1919, Imhof received his degree in engineering and was appointed as an ETH assistant, responsible for giving practical geodesy lessons to architectural, civil engineering and geodesy students. Three years later, as a result of Professor Becker having fallen ill, (he died in 1923), he was commissioned to deputise for him, taking over the full teaching load of his subject area. This was followed in 1925 by his being appointed associate professor (later turned into a full chair) in topography as well as surveying and map drawing. In that same year, with the support of the ETH, he founded the Cartographic Institute on the top floor of the Geodesy building without much fuss or ceremony, the first academic cartographic training and research institute in the world. In the beginning, this new creation, which he would head for 40 years until his retirement, spatially, did not have much flesh on the bone. Even during the early Fifties, it only had a single professor, one assistant, 3 rooms and an annual budget of 200 Swiss francs at its disposal. However, under Imhof’s leadership, the institute developed into the authoritative focal point of cartography, an institute which an increasing number of foreign colleagues visited, curious about Imhof’s success. In order to canalise this growing interest, he organised international Advanced Courses in 1957 and 1960 in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Office of Topography, in which groups of 20 persons took part, in the main, foreign cartographers holding leading positions in their own country, while the host, as head teacher, took care of the lion’s share of the lecturing. It will be obvious, that these participants ensured the worldwide spread of his name and fame.

Imhof, the Teacher

As a teacher, Imhof was held in high esteem. His successor, Professor Ernst Spiess, voicing the feelings of two generations of students during the memorial service held on 2 May 1986, praised his didactional talents. The engineers remembered his practical exercises, in which he tried to bring home the principles of orderly technical drawing, and of graphic and aesthetic clarity. The cartographers remembered how they used to work together in small groups, drawing and discussing and through the medium of maps and slides, became aware of the essence of the discipline, cartographic design: the interplay of graphic elements. Both groups of former pupils could remember ImhoFs lucid manner of speaking, his total rejection of high-flown wording, written or oral. Several of his forceful expressions are firmly etched in the memory: “Those who want to make maps have got to learn first” or “Making maps does not begin with a computer, but with sharpening the end of a pencil”. Then, of course, one remembers his didactical trickery, when he exhibited good and bad solutions side by side, or demonstrated graphic enormities, as well as his charm and ease in producing drawings of rock formations as if by magic using chalk or pencil.

Cartographic Design

A review of Imhof’s whole cartographic work establishes the fact that he was intensely occupied with all aspects of cartographic design: symbolisation, generalisation, use of colour, position of text, relief representation, and so on. Starting from the principle that the core of cartography was responsible graphic presentation, he strived to achieve a system of simple symbolisation and lettering. He laid down rules for the application of geometric and figurative symbols and for the use of colour. He designed a special group of stylised symbols for those minor, and often neglected relief features such as moraines, small hills, or holes characteristic of limestone topography, that can upset the earth’s surface in such a significant manner. He made a study of the generalisation concerning different forms of human settlements, and was the first person to analyse the various aspects of cartographic lettering, for which he laid down certain rules of application. Repeatedly, he pointed out the necessity for a reasonable combination of graphic elements, to attune the content of the map to its scale – and to the needs of the user. “No map can show everything” He battled against overloading the map’s image and the degeneration of its contents (tourist information and the cattle fodder industry on one and the same map!), the prevention of which was a geographic as well as a graphic responsibility. Using the principle “Less often means more”, he advised cartographers to delete all those items which did not make any significant contribution to the map, but only served to clutter it up. Besides this, his concern was in reaching the map user. In fact, his first major publication Gelände und Karte (1950), sponsored by the armed forces, was aimed at raising the level of observations in the field, together with the closely allied reading and interpretation of maps, an exercise which fitted the alpinist and reserve artillery man Imhof like a glove.

Relief Representation

There is no other area in which Imhof s influence had such far reaching consequences than that of relief representation. His name remains associated with that particular system which is known throughout the world as the “Swiss Manner”, a title which is not particularly popular in Switzerland itself, as the word “Manner” reeks of affectation. What we understand under the title “Swiss Manner”, is the method of relief, or hill shading using oblique illumination for the upper left-hand side, with perspective hypsometric tints. Applying this method and further enhancing it by contour lines, rock drawings – one of the most striking aspects – and minor land form symbols, Imhof created an illusion of unequalled three-dimensionality. He fiercely dismissed all other methods, such as hill shading, with vertical illumination on the principle “the steeper, the darker”. As far as altitude tinting was concerned, he dismissed all the existing colour scales which incorporated the system of “the higher, the lighter” or “the higher, the darker”, and also the much used variant running from green through light green, to yellow and brown, and on to red-brown. Similarly, he disassociated himself from the theories put forward by the Austrian cartographer Peucker, whose opinion was, that colour variations conjour up a stereoscopic effect. Imhof’s aerial perspective hypsometric tints are based upon the experience that in normal vision nearby landscape colours are brighter than those further away. Looking down from a great height, the lower regions appear to be grey-blue, the hills and middle ranges from blue-green to green and yellow-green, while the mountainous regions are yellow and light yellow, with the peaks emerging as white.

The adage that “easy reading is hard writing” is, also applicable to cartography. Admirers of Imhof’s relief presentation know that his success was the result of years of experimentation. The first occasion that he applied the oblique illumination technique, was in the Twenties, on wall maps of various cantons for educational purposes. From 1932, this method was also applied to some of the maps in the Schweizerische Mittelschulatlas (Swiss High School Atlas), of which he had been editor since 1927. During the ensuing years, the method was further developed graphically. It was refined, and reproduction and printing techniques were tried out on several sorts of maps in the Mittelschulatlas which thus served as an experimental nursery. The breakthrough came in 1962. In the 13th edition, the new methods were integrally applied to all the maps, including those of small scale.

Thanks to its penetrating graphic effect, this new relief presentation was well received, both in Switzerland and abroad, not only in cartographic circles, but also in the teaching profession, despite the fact that there were objections to the dark grey-blue low lands. The “Swiss Manner” added considerable weight to the image of Swiss cartography, which was already held in high esteem. In the Netherlands, the rather critical cartographer Jan Schokkenkamp, with a wealth of experience behind him, working for Shell, called the Mittelschulatlas a “beautiful piece of mapping, a masterpiece of cartographic art and reproduction techniques”. In his own country, Imhof managed to persuade the Federal Office of Topography to publish alternative versions with hill shading of the new topographic map series 1:25 000 and 1:50 000, the production of which was established upon his instigation in the 1935 Federal Mapping Act. In practice these sheets eventually proved most popular with the users. Topographical services in other countries followed this example, despite the fact that this laborious system of hill shading was often felt to be a heavy work load. In atlas cartography, the Imhofian system of relief presentation sounded the death knell for the traditional hachuring methods. One after another, publishers of atlases switched over to shading mountain slopes with oblique illumination, with varying success to be sure, as in this sector, it was also impossible to pluck talented shading artists out of the blue. Imhof himself, who in the 1960’s was the editor responsible for the Mittelschulatlas, the Sekundarschulatlas as well as the Atlas der Schweiz (National Atlas of Switzerland), also had his hands full. In order to broaden his range, he recruited a group of promising young cartographers, taught them the new shading technique and, under his supervision, turned them loose on the various projects on hand in his studio in Erlenbach. Taking into consideration how the later careers of these shading artists blossomed, it can be established that their labour as wage earners with Imhof, was well worth their while. In 1965, as a conclusion to the operation, Imhof’s authoritative book Kartographische Geländedarstellung (Cartographic Relief Presentation) presented a theoretically warranted justification of the “Swiss Manner”, methods for its application, and a thorough analysis of all previously used methods of relief representation and altitude tinting. This work received high praise from the professional community. Representative of this eulogy, was the literary review by Dr. Fritz Holzel, the German hill shader par excellence, who wrote: “It is not a publication produced by an abstract scientist, but that of a human being, whose humour, and occasional waggish criticism, quickly brings about contact between author and reader”.

Thematic Cartography

As is well known, as a result of a changing viewpoint in the teaching of geography during the years 1950-1960, it became apparent that there was an increasing need for thematic maps. The Mittelschulatlas could not escape this phenomenon either. This resulted in the editor Imhof having to pay increasing attention to the taxonomy and composition of these types of maps. At that time, this was an unexplored area, but one however, with which Imhof had been brought into contact as a contributor to the Atlas zur Geschichte des Kantons Zürich, 1951 (Atlas of the History of the Canton of Zürich). It is obvious, that thematic cartography, an area in which there were few rules and, often as not, a multitude of solutions, provided fertile ground for the graphically gifted Imhof. It is evident, from the rapid growth in the thematic map section of the Mittelschulatlas, that he made full use of the chances. In the same way in which he conquered the field of relief depiction, he compiled the findings of his struggle with thematic subject matter in a book. In 1972, his third major work, Thematische Kartographie (Thematic Cartography) was published. Despite the fact that it was announced as a “simple and concise textbook”, it is predominantly a personal view of the complex subject matter of thematic cartography. The author proposes that the field should be divided up according to graphic structural types, such as isoline maps, dot maps, flow maps, etc. instead of by map themes, which may be unlimited. According to Imhof, this structural approach should form the core of the science of thematic cartography, because only on this basis, is it possible to build up a clearly structured methodology. Although the book had all the allure of a pioneering work and its division into structural types was generally accepted, it was however, less enthusiastically received than Kartographische Geländedarstellung. In the periodical Kartographische Nachrichten (FRG) it was even subjected to – a cool criticism, which caused consternation among the German speaking disciples of the Grand Master.

Atlas der Schweiz

The whole range of Imhof’s graphic talents was revealed in the Atlas der Schweiz, the National Atlas of Switzerland, for which the Federal Council gave the green light in 1961, after much insistence from the master himself. At the age of 67, Imhof accepted the appointment as manager of this voluminous project, becoming Chairman of the editorial committee as well as Editor in Chief. The realisation of all this work was published in 12 instalments, spanning a period of 17 years. Upon its completion, in 1978, the National Atlas comprised approximately 500 maps based upon the latest research and statistics, together with profiles, diagrams, tables and an explanatory text in three languages. In total, approximately 140 experts from different disciplines worked on the project with whom Imhof was in close contact. According to Spiess, he led the operation with supreme authority. He succeeded in inspiring his colleagues, brought them to a “common denominator” and, when necessary, got them to bend to his will. The graphic composition and didactical presentation in all parts of the atlas betrayed the hand of the master and, as such, it became his Magnum Opus. The atlas was enthusiastically received throughout the professional world. Although it is hardly possible to make comparisons with other national atlases, each bearing its own particular stamp, the majority opinion was, that the Swiss Atlas was a world leader for its graphic composition, didactical presentation and technical cartographic quality. Naturally, there was criticism as well, particularly regarding the large number of analytical maps and the limited range of synthetic maps as well as the lack of problem-orientated chapters. This does not remove the fact, that during its period of publication, interest in the atlas increased to such a degree that the print run for instalments was raised from 4500 to 6000 copies.

Imhof and the ICA

Due to his authorative international standing, Imhof was predestined to play a role in international association life. Since the mid-fifties, he took part in discussions with German and French colleagues concerning a suggestion made by the Swedish cartographer, Carl Mannerfelt, whose idea it was to found an international cartographic society, a plan which did not meet with much sympathy from geographers and photogrammetrists. Gradually, Imhof’s part in these discussions grew, and finally, he had a decisive influence. Together with Mannerfelt, he managed to persuade the sister organisations that cartographers had their own specific problem area and a right to form a separate organisation. The International Cartographic Association (ICA) was founded in Bern in 1959 with Imhof as its first president. Two years later, acting as a charming host, he presided over the first General Assembly of delegates in Paris, where the statutes of the Association were approved. In the years to come, he and Mannerfelt tactfully promoted the entry into the ICA of the Eastbloc countries. Although the Swiss are above suspicion as far as their democratic attitude is concerned, during the unsure early years of the young Association, in which swift decisions had to be taken, the first President showed sufficient authority to ensure its consolidation. At meetings the set limits he allowed for discussion – were the words “Discussion opened” and “Discussion closed” following each other in quick succession – will remain firmly imprinted in the memory. In appreciation of his pioneering work, the ICA awarded its first president with their highest distinction, the Mannerfelt medal. The author was privileged to pay the final honours to the deceased on behalf of the ICA during the funeral service held at Erlenbach.


The impact that Imhof has had on cartography, is based on the combination of scientific sense, artistic talent and technical proficiency, something that is rarely found in a single person. Through this combination, his horizon was broader and he had a better overview of the whole subject than most of his colleagues. In addition, these qualities were combined with a fighting spirit, often disguised by a disarmingly gentle approach, by which he was able to achieve much more for cartography then would have been possible for most others. In appreciation of his work, he was inundated with honorary memberships and distinctions, including an Honorary Doctorate bestowed by the University of Zürich, major geographic medals (David Livingstone, Martin Behaim and Alexander von Humboldt) and he was made a Freeman of Erlenbach.

Some have misleadingly called Imhof the “Rembrandt of Cartography”, thereby giving the impression that map making is an artistic occupation, an indefensible idea, and one that Imhof also firmly rejected, although he liked to juggle with expressions such as “Mapping artist” and “the Beauty of Maps”. After all, art – as he put it – demands freedom of expression, a demand which maps, inexorably fixed to geometric or statistical basic data, or to standard colour symbols, could never be able to satisfy. However, it can be said that to optimise the quality of cartographic representation, it is desirable to have the assistance of a well trained, perhaps artistically minded, graphic artist at one’s disposal.

Imhof could look back on a rich and fulfilling life, surrounded by friends, dedicated students and former pupils, as well as silent admirers. His robust health made it possible for him to remain active to a ripe old age. At the age of 82, he finished the Swiss Atlas; as an 85 year old, he put the finishing touches to an impressive 1:200 000 relief map of Switzerland and, shortly before his death, he wrote the article Glanz und Elend der Kartographie (Glory and misery of Cartography) that was published, posthumously, in the 1986 International Yearbook of Cartography, a publication which he initiated in 1961. It remains for us to express our gratitude for all that Imhof stood for, brought about, and passed on to us all. The best way of paying tribute to his memory, is to hand on his theories and rules to those, who are now on the threshold of the computer age and who will be able to use them to combat the limitations of electronic image formation.

Further reading: Eduard Imhof Exhibition at the 50th birthday celebration of the ICA (with photo gallery)

Category: General News

Honorary Fellowship for Dennis E. O. Thackwell

Dennis E. O. Thackwell

Dennis E. O. Thackwell

Brigadier Dennis E. O. Thackwell was born in Poona, India, on the 18 March 1909. His father was Brigadier O. M. R. Thackwell R. E. who had spent the major part of his Service life in India. He went to Rosall School in Lancashire, UK, and completed his academic education at Corpus Christi, Cambridge. On 31 January 1929 his military career began when he was granted a regular army commission as 2nd Lt. Royal Engineers at Chatham.

In World War II he served firstly in Survey of India and then in various military roles and latterly as Assistant Director Survey in G.H.Q., India, in the 4th Army and in the 12th SEAC.

In 1946 he returned to civil employment in Survey of India. From 1948 to 1963 he was in charge of divisions of the Ordnance Survey UK and in 1959 was promoted Brigadier and appointed Director Map Production OS, Gazetted C.B.E. in January 1963 and retired in June 1963.

In addition to his distinguished service to military and civilian survey and mapping, he served the cartographic community in many ways such as by his work on the Royal Society Cartography Committee, on the UK committee devising a new specification for the 1:1 Million Map of the World (1962), on the Executive Committee of the newly formed ICA and as the founded President of the British Cartographic Society in September 1963 and on to 1966. On 6 September 1983 at the Royal Society in London, the President of the ICA, Professor F.J. Ormeling, presented him with the Honorary Fellowship of the Association and the following is an extract from his address:

“Brigadier Thackwell was elected President of the Association by the Second General Assembly in Edinburgh in 1964 when the Association was five years old. He succeeded Professor Imhof, first President and one of the founder members of the ICA. His administration was soon characterised by a series of actions and decisions which strenghtened the Association and resulted in a healthy growth of prestige. To minimise confusion in allied disciplines such as geodesy, photogrammetry, graphic arts, geography as to aims and objectives of the Association, Thackwell started to stake out the area of interest, the sphere of influence of cartography. He made it clear that cartography had a specific problem area, distinct from, but closely related to surveying and photogrammetry. He introduced the Technical Meetings between the 4-yearly conferences, the first of which was held in Amsterdam in 1967. Under Thackwell’s administration the first three commissions (Education, Terminology and Automation) started their work. Together with de Brommer (France), Chairman of the first mentioned commission, he initiated a series of successful UNESCO conferences on Education in Cartography in Paris. Further it was Thackwell who managed to bring the extravagant ambitions of the Commission on Terminology to workable dimensions, thus laying the foundation of the Multilingual Dictionary of Technical Terms. Together with Professor Boesch, Secretary General of the IGU, he strengthened the relationships with the geographers by introducing joint sessions on subjects of common interest during overlapping conferences.

The years of Thackwell’s Presidency in many respects were of a decisive nature for the Association. His cool leadership and clear judgement inspired confidence, attracted new member countries and brought outlying members into active collaboration. As a token of gratitude and respect the Executive Committee upon recommendation of the Committee for the Selection of Award Recipients decided to confer the Honorary Fellowship on Brigadier Thackwell. I am honoured to announce this decision.”

Category: General News