Inspection card

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Survey map of the Eich office in the
office atlas of the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel by Gottfried Mascop , 1574.
Inspection map with a view of the city of Speyer . The card served as a basis in a legal dispute between the city and the Bishop of Speyer before the Reich Chamber of Commerce . Watercolor by Wilhelm Besserer , 1574.

Appearances cards are a type of maps that not only topographical play figuratively, but also thematic issues. They allow a view of a place and tell about its inhabitants: while, for example, buildings and farms, fortifications as well as shipyards or windmills are often shown relatively large, there are also images of clothing, tools or weapons and even entire actions.

Topographic information can dominate, but the similarity to maps is unmistakable. However, the topographical facts were depicted after the " visual inspection " (on the one hand, the inspection of the site, on the other hand, the painting by eye ). This means that the Abkonterfeiung (contemporary and tear , wallet , paintings , Abmalung , Besehung , Decrease / elevation , panel , Landtafel or indeed torn inspection ) usually without prior land survey was carried out. Visual maps therefore naturally do not meet the requirements of a map in the sense of scientific cartography.


The term Augenschein has been in German usage since around 1500 at the latest, but was by no means reserved for one card type. In the historical research discourse, the terms visual inspection , and occasionally also controversy or litigation card, initially refer to those hand-drawn cards that have often emerged in the context of border disputes since the end of the late Middle Ages and have been handed down as supplements to court files. From the late Middle Ages to the 19th century, inspection cards were passed down mostly in the context of legal disputes.

However, the exact function of the maps is controversial, at least in the early phase of this cartographic-historical development. It is widely believed that the cards were used as evidence in court. However, this assumption does not always stand up to a critical examination of the archival records. On the contrary, it can occasionally be shown that the cards were also used outside of the courtroom. The function of the card was also discussed controversially in the legal literature of the 16th and 17th centuries. The court regulations of the time mention the card type occasionally, but legally bind it to the painter. On behalf of sovereigns , based on the judicial inspection cards, so-called regional recordings were then also made for administrative purposes.

If inspection cards were enclosed with court files, they served as an illustration of a dispute before a court. For this purpose, site inspections were carried out in the affected area and the spatial circumstances of the process object were recorded by a draftsman by means of a hand drawing . The works known as inspection cards differ considerably in terms of accuracy, perspective and quality - depending on the skill and care of the draftsman. Some examples show a view of the landscape as it was perceived from a certain location, or show elaborately colored panoramic views with a decorative, painterly effect. Other works are greatly simplified maps in schematic and sketchy representation. Often the drawing was supplemented by extensive texts.

With the spread of extensive, large-scale , printed map series in the 19th century, visual maps lost their importance.


  • Anette Baumann: Inspection cards of the Reich Chamber of Commerce in the General State Archives Karlsruhe (1496–1806) . In: Journal for the history of the Upper Rhine, vol. 167, 2019, pp. 141–153.
  • Thomas Horst: The older manuscript maps of old Bavaria. A cartographic-historical study on the visual plan with special consideration of the cultural and climatic history. 2 volumes, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-10776-4 .
  • Daniel Kaune, eyewitness and inspection in the process. A witness interrogation rotulus of the Reich Chamber of Commerce in the mirror of its inspection card , in: Stephan Laux, Maike Schmidt (Ed.), Grenzraum und Repentation. Perspectives on spatial concepts and border concepts in the premodern era (Trier historical research vol. 74), Trier 2019, pp. 85–98.
  • Uwe Ohainski, Arnd Reitemeier (ed.): The Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel in 1574. The atlas of Gottfried Mascop. Publishing house for regional history, Gütersloh 2012, ISBN 978-3-89534-987-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The official atlas of the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel on the website of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, accessed on May 16, 2013
  2. Wolfgang Scharfe: The "scientific" status of cartography around 1600 . In: Dagmar Unverhau, Kurt Schietzel (Ed.): The Danewerk in the history of cartography in Northern Europe . Neumünster 1993, p. 189-210 .
  3. Fritz Hellwig, Tyberiade and inspection. On forensic cartography in the 16th century, in: Jürgen Baur / Peter-Christian Müller-Graff / Manfred Zuleeg (eds.), European law, energy law, commercial law - Festschrift for Bodo Börner on his 70th birthday, Cologne [u. a.] 1992, pp. 805-834: Tyberiade and Augenschein. On forensic cartography in the 16th century . In: Jürgen Baur, Peter-Christian Müller-Graff, Manfred Zuleeg (eds.): European law, energy law, commercial law - commemorative publication for Bodo Börner on his 70th birthday . Cologne 1992, p. 805-834 .
  4. Thomas Horst: Augenscheinkarten - a source for cultural history . In: Akademie Aktuell , 1/2010, pp. 38–41
  5. Friedrich Balck : Pictures, photos and models - important keys to the history of technology in the Upper Harz . Fingerhut, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, p. 22, ISBN 3-935833-06-7 ( digital copy , PDF)