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The Philadelphia Print Shop

Sea Charts

Publishers of Working Sea Charts

American: [ E. & G.W. Blunt | George Eldridge | U.S. Coastal Survey | U.S. Navy ]
European: [ Admiralty Charts ]


E. & G.W. Blunt

E. & G.W. Blunt was one of the most important American chart producers of the nineteenth century, known particularly for their American Coast Pilot. Edmund March Blunt, founder of the firm, published the first edition of Captain Lawrence Furlong's American Coast Pilot in 1796, beginning his long career as a chartmaker. He continued to issue editions of this sea atlas and also produced separate charts based first on other's work, such as the U.S. government charts by F.R. Hassler and A.D. Basche, and later on his own surveys and surveys of his two sons, George William and Edmund. About 1827, Blunt retired and the firm was carried on by his sons, who continued to issue some of the best American sea charts of the period.

Charles Copley & Sons

Charles Copley & Sons firm, an important American chart producer of the nineteenth century. Charles Copley began his career as map engraver about 1840. His shop was near that of chart publisher E. & G.W. Blunt in New York City, and his name appears as cartographer and engraver on some Blunt produced charts in the 1840s. By 1847, Copley began to advertise himself as "Engraver, Map Publisher," with his most important charts appearing beginning in the 1850s.

George Eldridge

George Eldridge (1821-1900) was a former captain of a fishing vessel out of Cape Cod and a local pilot, who, in 1851, produced his first chart when recuperating from an injury. The success of this chart inspired him to continue with chart making, and Eldridge went on to produce many other fine charts of New England and the rest of the Atlantic coast. His son, George W. Eldridge (1845-1914) later took over the business and continued to issued attractive charts. Most of the Eldridge charts were based on official U.S. Coastal Surveys, but they were successful mariners because of their first-rate and straight-forward design and their clarity. These charts were separately issued, lined with linen for ease of storage and use.

U.S. Coast Survey

The single-minded purpose of Ferdinand Hassler, a Swiss immigrant, is what first brought the U.S. Coast Survey into existence. As the first Superintendent of the Coast Survey, 1816-1818 and 1832-1843, Hassler imbued the organization with love of "truth" and unswerving compromise with the twin principles of accuracy and precision. His motto was: "It is the duty of every man to be honest and to do good." Following his death in 1843, Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, took over the helm of the Coast Survey. Bache, with his friend Joseph Henry, was dedicated to elevating American science to the front ranks of the world community. As opposed to Hassler who was politically naive, Bache moved smoothly through the American political scene for the benefit of the Coast Survey and American science. The Coast Survey prospered during his tenure as Superintendent and became the first great science organization of the United States Federal Government. Professionally, he became a guiding light of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [presided over three of the first six meetings of the AAAS] and was a founder of the National Academy of Sciences. The U.S. Coast Survey charts reflect Hassler and Bache's dedication and care, and that of all the other superb scientists and craftsmen who worked for the Survey. These separately issued charts were intended for use for navigation and contain all navigational information necessary for a ship's captain.

U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy became involved in making sea charts as early as 1819, with Cheever Felch's survey of Cape Ann harbor. Most of the early charts were commissioned for locations where the navy was planning naval stations or depots. Most of the early printed charts were published privately rather than by the Navy. In 1830, an official Navy Depot of Charts and Instruments was established to purchase, store and produce charts for the Navy. This depot was led by such capable figures as Louis M. Goldsborough, Charles Wilkes, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. Naval surveyors worked independently but also in conjunction with the U.S. Coastal Survey.

British Admiralty

The Hydrographic Office of the British Admiralty was established in 1795 to provide charts of the British Navy. The first Admiralty chart was not produced until 1800, but the Napoleonic threat spurred the production of a substantial body of superb charts by the end of the first quarter of the century. From then on the Hydrographic Office systematically surveyed and produced the best charts made of all parts of the world, which were made available not just to the British Navy, but to the general public as well.

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