For centuries mapmakers have been including small, deliberate flaws in their maps—a fake street, a fantasy town—imperceptible to anyone other that the creator, as a copyright trap to catch unauthorized duplication. But sometimes cartographers do it just for fun.
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A recently published story at Eye on Design brings to light an unspoken tradition among Swiss cartographers to hide small doodles inside Switzerland’s official maps. There is a barely perceptible spider here, a fish there, a reclining naked woman disguised as a stream, and a marmot blended with the hills. These illicit drawings are cleverly hidden among the contour lines that depict Switzerland’s remote mountainous regions. Being located far from populated areas, they often escape scrutiny for decades.