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brm2623-vereinigten-staaten-1799Prussian cartographer Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann (1754-1840) was born in Spandau to a family of craftsmen.  At a young age he took lessons in engineering from an officer imprisoned at the Spandau Citadel, but appears to have been self taught as a surveyor.  In 1774 he moved to Berlin and took a government position as a surveyor and mapmaker, and in the succeeding years added copperplate engraving to his growing skill set.  In 1784 he was appointed Geographer at the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, a position he seems to have held for almost two decades.

During his career Sotzmann naturally produced a very great number of maps, but for Americanists the ones of greatest interest are the 11 produced in connection with Christoph Ebeling’s Erdbeschreibung und Geschichte von Amerika, a study of the geography and history of the new United States. In the service of his project Ebeling (1741-1817) corresponded with leading Americans, who supplied him among other things with the most up-to-date American maps.

Probably in the early 1790s, Ebeling commissioned Sotzmann to produce the maps for an atlas envisioned as an accompaniment to the Erdbeschreibung. The atlas was to contain 18 plates, including 16 of the individual states and a map of the United States. Unfortunately neither the narrative nor the atlas were fully realized, though eleven maps were completed: the United States, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The maps are uniformly excellent, relying on the latest sources from America–presumably supplied by Ebeling–and featuring clear, crisp, unadorned engraving. With the odd exception of Rhode Island, all are scarce, while some (in particular Delaware and Maryland) are extremely rare, and few institutions possess full sets.

For more on Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann, Christoph Ebeling and the Erdbeschreibung, see Ralph H. Brown, “Early Maps of the United States: The Ebeling-Sotzmann Maps of the Northern Seaboard States,” inGeographical Review, vol. 30 no. 3 (Jul. 1940), pp. 471-479, and also Walter Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp.169-178.



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“Undoubtedly one of the finest early maps of Maine” (Thompson)

A very fine and scarce 18th–century map of the District of Maine… by a mapmaker who never visited America. Description Sotzmann’s map depicts Maine in its entirety as well as sizable areas of New Brunswick, Quebec and New Hampshire. The geographic detail is particularly strong for Maine’s intricate coastline and complex system of rivers, streams, […]

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A Massachusetts rarity by Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann

A very fine and quite rare 18th–century map of the state… by a mapmaker who never visited America. Sotzmann’s map depicts Massachusetts in its entirety as well as portions of adjacent states. The geographic detail is fairly strong for a map of this size, though mountain ranges are shown in the archaic “caterpillar” style. Throughout […]

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A remarkable Sotzmann map of the United States

A rare and important separately-published map of the United States, based on Samuel Lewis’s 1795 and Aaron Arrowsmith’s 1796 maps of the country as well as other unnamed sources. The map was almost certainly compiled by famed German mapmaker Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann, perhaps to accompany his rare suite of ten state maps issued in the […]

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brm2623-vereinigten-staaten-1799

Sotzmann United States map

A rare and important separately-published map of the United States, based on Samuel Lewis’s 1795 and Aaron Arrowsmith’s 1796 maps of the country as well as other unnamed sources. The map was almost certainly compiled by famed German mapmaker Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann, perhaps to accompany his rare suite of ten state maps issued in the […]

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The Sotzmann map of Connecticut

A very fine and scarce 18th-century map of Connecticut, produced by a mapmaker who never visited America. Description This carefully engraved map packs an immense amount of information into a relatively small area. The state’s natural geography is shown in surprising detail, including not only lakes and rivers, but relatively minor streams and even waterfalls. […]

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1799 D[aniel] F[riedrich] Sotzmann and Christoph Ebeling

The Ebeling – Sotzmann map of New York State

By far the finest 18th–century map of New York State, compiled by Daniel Friedrich Sotzmann and Christoph Ebeling, two German geographers who never visited America. This remarkable map depicts New York in its entirety as well as border areas of Canada, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  The topographic detail is fairly strong for a map […]

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D[aniel] F[riedrich] Sotzmann [and Christoph Ebeling] / P. Schmidt Sculp., NEW HAMPSHIRE entworfen von D.F. Sotzmann. Hamburg: Carl Ernst Bohn, 1796.

The Sotzmann-Ebeling map of New Hampshire

The finest 18th–century map of New Hampshire, compiled by D.F. Sotzmann and Christoph Ebeling, two German geographers who never visited America. This excellent map depicts New Hampshire as well as adjacent areas of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Quebec. The topographic detail is fairly strong for a map of this scale, with much attention given both […]

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D[aniel] F[riedrich] Sotzmann [and Christoph Ebeling] / P. Schmidt Sculp., VERMONT entworfen von D.F. Sotzmann. Hamburg: Carl Ernst Bohn, 1796.

The Ebeling – Sotzmann map of Vermont

The finest 18th–century map of Vermont, compiled by D.F. Sotzmann and Christoph Ebeling, two German geographers who never visited America. This lovely map depicts considerable detail of the state’s natural geography, including lakes, rivers, streams, and even waterfalls, as well as the Green Mountains and lesser areas of elevation. Political boundaries are shown, with state, […]

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D[aniel] F[riedrich] Sotzmann [and Christoph Daniel Ebeling] (mapmakers), RHODE ISLAND entworfen von D.F. Sotzmann. Hamburg: Carl Ernst Bohn, 1797.

The Ebeling-Sotzmann map of Rhode Island

The finest 18th-century map of Rhode Island, compiled by D.F. Sotzmann and Christoph Ebeling, two German geographers who never visited America. Description This lovely map depicts the entire state of Rhode Island including Block Island off the southern coast.  There is considerable detail of the natural geography, including lakes, rivers and streams; areas of elevation […]

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