I’m off to visit a friend in Geneva next week and I’m looking forward to seeing some mountains. Currently, I live in the flattest part of the UK and really miss the mountains and seas. That is why I decided to curate a collection of amazing vintage mountain sketches and mountain diagrams.
Growing up I lived on the top of a mountain; albeit a small one in Hong Kong. Then I met my husband who’s family is from Norway, a country famed for its mountainous terrain. We then spent many a winter holiday skiing in the French Alps.
As a family we really do miss the mountains and given a choice my boys will choose a holiday to the mountains over anywhere else.
I love to decorate my home with interesting vintage scientific illustrations. To combine this passion with my families love of mountains I have gathered a collection of vintage mountain sketches and mountain diagrams.
I know framing the mountain pictures and creating a gallery wall of them in my hallway will go down well with my husband and boys.
Vintage Mountain Diagrams and Illustrations To Download
The Mountain Sketches and Mountain Diagrams
1. Comparative Chart of the World’s Mountains and Rivers -1850
A wonderful map of the principal mountains and rivers of the world. The mountains are shown along the bottom of the map with important cities and geological formations noted at their appropriate elevation.
This mountain diagram also has the bonus of showing the worlds major rivers. The rivers are shown along the top of the mountain sketch descending from the seas to their sources – where known.
The Missouri and Mississippi River systems, at 4100 miles, are listed as the world’s greatest rivers and Dhaulagiri, at 26, 262 ft., the world’s tallest mountain. The mythical Mountains of the Moon are noted as the source of the Nile.
This map diagram is by the American geographer Samuel Augustus Mitchell from the 1850 edition of Mitchell’s New Universal Atlas.
If you are looking for some amazing river maps check out the colorful Mississippi River Maps of Harold Fisk.
2. 1851 Sketch of The Mountains of The World
A beautiful sketch of the worlds major mountains. The mountain diagram has a wonderful key, labeling the major mountains. The key includes the main mountains of the British Isles and for each continent. The major volcanoes of the world are also on the mountain diagram.
The mountains are drawn to scale, which is what I love about this mountain sketch. This makes it so easy to compare the heights of the major mountains by just looking at the diagram.
Also, a wealth of information is contained within this illustration. Included are wonderfully detailed drawings of some of the worlds major cities and landmarks showing there elevation above sea level. The maximum elevation for various species of trees is also indicated on the mountain diagram.
This mountain sketch was drawn by James Reynolds and John Emslie for the book “Mountains” published in 1851.
3. Scotland Mountains Sketch 1831
This mountain diagram shows the major mountains of Scotland. My mother’s side of the family is Scottish and they would love this beautiful mountain painting.
My husband and sons all went on a trip a few years ago to climb Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is 1,345 meters high and in the Scottish Grampian Mountains.
The mountain painting is by D. McKenzie & W.H. Lizars from the book “A Comparative View of the Heights of the Principal Mountains of Scotland” 1831.
4. Principle Mountains of The World – 1826
This mountain diagram details the world’s great mountains in relative proximity to one another and divided by continent.
Each mountain is numbered and links to a reference list below the chart proper, naming each mountain and its elevation. The key also notes important cities, mines, volcanoes and geographical locations, including the Great Pyramid.
The highest mountain in North America is Mexico’s Popocatepetl, in South America, it is Chimborazo, in Europe Mont Blanc, in Asia Dhaulagiri, and in Africa the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
As this mountain map is from 1826 it is before the discovery of Everest, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, and Mt. McKinley (Denali), hence their omission. The colourful mountain sketch is from the 1826 edition of Finley’s New General Atlas.
5. 1823 Map of World Mountains & Rivers
Another comparative mountain diagram also showing the worlds greatest rivers as of 1823. This comparative chart is supposedly the first example to depict both mountains and rivers on the same diagram.
It is by William Darton and W. R. Gardner’s 1823 “New and Improved View of the Comparative Heights, of the Principal Mountains and Lengths of the Principal Rivers in the World“.
The mountains sketch occupies the lower right half of this chart. The details of the principal mountains of the world are noted. The Himalayan peak Dhaulagiri is identified as the world’s greatest mountain.
The worlds mountain ranges are colour coded on the chart to show different types of vegetation. The elevations of a number of important cities including Paris, Rome, London, Geneva, Mexico, Bogota, and Quito, among others, are also noted.
In the upper-left portion of this chart, the lengths of the rivers are given along with their course and sources. Further details along each river such as important lakes, cities, directions, and distance measurements are noted.
At 3600 miles long, the Amazon is identified as the world’s greatest river, followed by the Mississippi at 3530 miles. As its full length had yet to be explored the Nile came fifth in the list.
6. 1825 French Mountains of The World Diagram
This is an 1825 map “Carte des Principales Montagnes du Globe“.
On this chart, the mountains are divided into the Western Hemisphere mountains ( on the left ) and the mountains of the Eastern Hemisphere ( on the right ).
Also includes the relative elevations of important cities, monuments, etc. Unlike most comparative charts issued in the mid 19th century, this chart includes a reference table as part of the map itself.
7. 1864 Mountain Sketches By Continent
This is the 1864 edition of Johnson’s mountain diagrams and rivers chart. The world’s great mountains and rivers are divided by continent.
Kilimanjaro is identified as the highest mountain, and the Nile its longest river, in the Africa section. As a lovely little touch, the Great Pyramid is drawn to scale along with the mountains.
Everest, at 29,000 feet is recognized as the highest mountain in Asia and the Yangtze as the longest river.
Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest mountain and the Volga is recognized as the longest River. In South America, Tupungato, at 22, 450 feet is identified as the highest mountain and the Amazon is the greatest River.
North America was still not fully explored when this map was published. As the mountain chart lists Mt. St. Elias, of the Canadian Yukon, as the highest mountain, followed by the Popocatepetl and Orizaba volcanoes of Mexico. This is in fact somewhat reversed from actuality, with Orizaba being the highest at 18,504 feet, followed by Elias at 18,009 feet, and Popocatepetl at 17,930.
At this time, neither Mount McKinley (Denali) nor Mount Logan, the true highest peaks of North America, had been measured. Even so, Johnson does correctly recognized the Mississippi as the continent’s longest river.
8. Principal Eminences of the British Islands -1852
When I came across this mountain diagram of the British Islands I had to look up the word eminence. It’s defined both as a position of prominence and as a natural elevation.
Therefore this mountains diagram is basically a sketch of natural elevations within the British Islands such as hills and mountains.
9. 1828 Mountain Diagrams of The World
This is an amazing illustration of the World’s mountains. I warn you it is a large file but it would look fabulous on a gallery wall of mountain sketches.
It’s titled “Picture of Organized Nature as Extending over the Earth” by Charles Smith.
10. Comparative Shape And Heights of Mountains – 1850
A beautifully coloured sketch of mountains of the world that not only compares their heights but the shape too. Its a French illustration by Ambroise Tardieu.
11. View of Nature in Ascending Order – Geography Chart
Educational geography poster illustrating the world’s mountains and volcanoes.
The major mountains are shown for each of the world’s continents (except Antarctica). The chart includes other interesting details such as the dates that certain 19th Century explorers climbed the mountains.
Major Mountain Cities are also named, including Denver, Leadville, Animas Forks, Mexico City, Toluca, St. Bernhard, St. Gothard, Birmingham, London, Chambury, Cashmere, Darjeeling, Dangoutre and Pamachun.
If you liked these fabulous mountain diagrams and sketches then you might want to check out some of these other wonderful copyright free pictures.
Saturday 20th of June 2020
Thank you for sharing all these wonderful pictures/maps, especially the Scottish ones. Scotland is very dear to me even though I no longer live there. I will go back one day. I am currently living on the Isle of Wight, so unlike you, I am surrounded by the sea :-) xx
Monday 22nd of June 2020
Thank you, Louisa I'm glad you enjoyed them. Scotland is a fabulous country, my mother is Scottish so I visited it many times when younger to see relatives.
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
Thanks for opening my eyes to how beautiful maps could be!
Wednesday 20th of May 2020
Thank you, Rebecca. I'm fascinated with the beauty of old maps this is part of the reason I started this blog so that I could share their beauty with others.
Sunday 18th of August 2019
These are so unusual! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!
Sunday 18th of August 2019
Thank you 😊