Scarce map of the Franz Josef Land, illustratiing the Julius Payer Expedition of 1873 and 1874.
Franz Josef Land, is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard, The archipelago was possibly first discovered by the Norwegian sealers Nils Fredrik Rønnbeck and Aidijärvi aboard the schooner Spidsbergen in 1865 who, according to scarce reports, sailed eastward from Svalbard until they reached a new land, denoted Nordøst-Spitsbergen (Spitsbergen was the contemporary name of Svalbard). It is not known if they went ashore, and the new islands were soon forgotten.
The officially recognized discovery took place in 1873 by the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition led by polar explorers Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht. They named the archipelago in honour of the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I. Since the expedition was privately sponsored and not official, these islands have not been part of Austria.
August Heinrich Petermann (1822-1878) is a renowned German cartographer of the nineteenth century. Petermann studied cartography at the Geographical Art-School in Potsdam before traveling to Edinburgh to work with Dr. A. Keith Johnston on an English edition of Berghaus’ Physical Atlas. Two years later he moved to London, where he made maps and advised exploratory expeditions as they set off to explore the interior of Africa and the Arctic.
In 1854, Petermann returned to Germany to be Director of the Geographical Institute of Justus Perthes in Gotha. There, he was the editor of the Geographische Mittheilungen and Stieler’s Handatlas. The Royal Geographical Society of London awarded him their Gold Medal in 1860. He continued his interest in exploration in Germany, fundraising for the German Exploring Expeditions of 1868 and 1869-70, which sought an open Arctic sea. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1878.