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1855 U.S. Coast Survey Map of the Chesapeake Bay Entrance


Price: $350.00


Title:    (C No. 2) Preliminary Chart of Part of the Sea Coast of Virginia and Entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

Description:    An uncommon nautical chart or map of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay issued in 1855 by the U.S. Coast Survey. This map covers from Norfolk, Virginia to Gargathy Inlet. The chart features countless depths soundings as well as detailed sailing instructions and notes on currents in the lower right quadrant. The upper left quadrant is dominated by a large inset focusing on the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay between Smith Island and Cape Henry. The triangulation for this chart was completed by John Farley. The topography is the work of G. D. Wise and J. Seib. The Hydrography was completed by a party under the command of JJ Almay. The entire chart was produced under the supervision of A. D. Bache, of the most prolific and influential Superintendents of the U.S. Coast Survey. Published in the 1855 edition of the Superintendentís Report.

Date:    1855 (dated)

Source:    Report of the Superintendant of the United States Coast Survey, (Washington) 1855.

Cartographer:    The Office of the Coast Survey, founded in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of Commerce Albert Gallatin, is the oldest scientific organization in the U.S. Federal Government. Jefferson created the "Survey of the Coast," as it was then called, in response to a need for accurate navigational charts of the new nation's coasts and harbors. The spirit of the Coast Survey was defined by its first two superintendents. The first superintendent of the Coast Survey was Swiss immigrant and West Point mathematics professor Ferdinand Hassler. Under the direction of Hassler, from 1816 to 1843, the ideological and scientific foundations for the Coast Survey were established. These included using the most advanced techniques and most sophisticated equipment as well as an unstinting attention to detail. Hassler's devised a labor intensive triangulation system whereby the entire coast was divided into a series of enormous triangles. These were intern subdivided into smaller triangulation units that were then individually surveyed. Employing this exacting technique on such a massive scale had never before been attempted. Consequently Hassler and the Coast Survey under him developed a reputation for uncompromising dedication to the principles of accuracy and excellence. Unfortunately, despite being a masterful surveyor, Hassler was abrasive and politically unpopular, twice loosing congressional funding for the Coast Survey. Nonethelss, Hassler lead the Coast Survey until his death in 1843, at which time Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, took the helm. Bache was fully dedicated to the principles established by Hassler, but proved more politically astute and successfully lobbied Congress liberally fund the endeavor. Under the leadership of A. D. Bache, the Coast Survey completed its most important work. Moreover, during his long tenure with the Coast Survey, from 1843 to 1865, Bache was a steadfast advocate of American science and navigation and in fact founded the American Academy of Sciences. Bache was succeeded by Benjamin Pierce who ran the Survey from 1867 to 1874. Pierce was in turn succeeded by Carlile Pollock Patterson who was Superintendent from 1874 to 1881. In 1878, under Patterson's superintendence, the U.S. Coast Survey was reorganized as the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C & GS or USGS) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. Click here for a list of rare maps from the U. S. Coast Survey.

Size:   Printed area measures 28 in height x 21 inches in width (71.12 x 53.34 centimeters)

Condition:    Good condition. Some discoloration and verso repair along original foldlines.

Code:   ChesapeakeBayEntrance-uscs-1855 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

© Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Kevin Brown, 18/4/2014



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