A large 1846 blueback nautical chart or maritime map of the world by Robert Blachford. Centered on a large and prominent Africa, this map covers most of the world excluding the Arctic climes from roughly the Orkney Islands to the Falkland Islands and from Yucatan (Mexico) to Borneo and Western Australia. Blachford intended this map for marking the route of a ship along the more common maritime routes - to the Americas and around Africa to India and the East Indies. It notably does not include the Pacific, an area in which Blachford had little interest. Notations in pencil indicate that this chart was used to mark off repeat voyages between England and the Americas, specifically New England and the West Indies.
Blueback ChartsBlueback nautical charts began appearing in London in the late 18th century. Bluebacks, as they came to be called, were privately published large format nautical charts known for their distinctive blue paper backing. The backing, a commonly available blue manila paper traditionally used by publishers to warp unbound pamphlets, was adopted as a practical way to reinforce the low-quality paper used by private chart publishers in an effort to cut costs. The earliest known blueback charts include a 1760 chart issued by Mount and Page, and a 1787 chart issued by Robert Sayer. The tradition took off in the early 19th century, when British publishers like John Hamilton Moore, Robert Blachford, James Imray, William Heather, John William Norie, Charles Wilson, David Steel, R. H. Laurie, and John Hobbs, among others, rose to dominate the chart trade. Bluebacks became so popular that the convention was embraced by chartmakers outside of England, including Americans Edmund March Blunt and George Eldridge, as well as Scandinavian, French, German, Russian, and Spanish chartmakers. Blueback charts remained popular until the late 19th century, when government subsidized organizations like the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office and the United States Coast Survey, began issuing their own superior charts on high quality paper that did not require reinforcement.
Publication History and CensusThis chart was first published in 1829 by Blachford. No known examples of the 1829 first edition have survived. The presented example dates to 1846 and was published in the final year of the Michael Blachford - James Imray partnership - presumably just prior to Imray's buyout of Blachford. Like most of Blachford's maps this chart is extremely rare. One chart the same name is held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (G201:8/8(1)), however, it seems to be a marginally different chart covering a larger area.
Robert Blachford (1775 - c. 1852) was an Irish maker of blueback nautical charts active in the middle part of the 19th century. Compared with many major nautical chart publishers in London, little is known of Blachford. Around 1802 he married Elizabeth Moore, the daughter of the John Hamilton Moore (1738 - 1807), a prolific producer of navigational textbooks and nautical charts. Blachford must have been introduced to nautical chart making by Moore, but his partnership with the latter was short-lived and dissolved two years later in 1804. By 1805, Blachford had established his own firm located at 137 Minories, London. Initially, Blachford's business seems to have been poor and he produced charts only sporadically until about 1808, when he opened a new shop at 114 Minories. From this location he published about 20 - 30 known charts primarily focusing on the North Sea and the Baltic. Most of these were based on Moore's earlier work but fully re-engraved by Samuel Stockley (who also, incidentally, engraved for William Heather). With such a meager publication history, it is unsurprising that Blachford declared bankruptcy in May of 1819. Shortly thereafter Blachford was back in business and partnered with William Lane. This partnership was also short-lived, issuing about 15 charts before being dissolved in 1821. Around 1827 Blachford again reappeared, this time at his old stomping ground Minories (116), an office he would maintain for the next 25 years. Robert this time partnered with William Blachford, presumably a relative though the relationship is unclear. The firm issued numerous charts focused on the British coastal trade. The rough and damp conditions synonymous with this trade determined that few Blachford charts from this period would survived. Around 1835 Robert and William Blachford retired, passing the business on to Michael Blachford (1807 - 1889), who partnered with the stationer and draftsman James Imray. The Imray-Blachford partnership proved potent. Athough new to the field of chart making, Imray was hard working, intelligent, and ambitious. By 1846, Imray had bought out Michael Blachford and was on the rise to being the largest and most prominent maker of nautical charts in history. More by this mapmaker...
James Imray (May 16, 1803 - November 15, 1870) was a Scottish hydrographer and stationer active in London during the middle to latter part of the 19th century. Imray is best known as a the largest and most prominent producer of blue-back charts, a kind of nautical chart popular from about 1750 to 1920 and named for its distinctive blue paper backing (although not all charts that may be called "blue-backs" actually have a blue backing). Unlike government charts issued by the British Admiralty, U.S. Coast Survey, and other similar organizations, Imray's charts were a private profit based venture and not generally the result of unique survey work. Rather, Imray's charts were judicious and beautiful composites based upon pre-existing charts (some dating to the 17th century) and new information gleaned from governmental as well as commercial pilots and navigators. Imray was born in Spitalfields, England, the eldest son of a Jacobite dyer also named James. Imray did not follow his father profession, instead apprenticing to William Lukyn, a stationer. He established himself as a bookseller and bookbinder at 116 Minories Street, where he shared offices with the nautical chart publisher Robert Blanchford. In 1836 Imray signed on as a full partner in Blanchford's enterprise, christening themselves Blanchford & Imray. At this time the Blanchford firm lagged far behind competing chart publishers Norie and Laruie, nevertheless, with the injection of Imray's marketing savvy the firm began a long rise. James Imray bought out Blanchford's share in 1846, becoming the sole proprietor of the chart house, publishing under the imprint of James Imray. Relocating in 1850 to larger offices at 102 Minories, Imray was well on track to become the most prominent chart publisher in London. In 1854, when Imray's 25 year old son, James Frederick Imray, joined as a full partner, the firm again changed its imprint, this time to James Imray and Son. The elder Imray was a master of marketing and was quick to respond to trade shifts and historic events. Many of his most successful charts were targeted to specific trade routes, for example, he issued charts entitled "Cotton Ports of Georgia" and "Rice Ports of India". Other charts emerged quickly following such events as the 1849 California Gold Rush. Imray's rise also coincided with the development of governmental mapping organizations such as the Admiralty and the U.S. Coast Survey, whose work he appropriated and rebranded in practical format familiar to navigators. Imray's death in 1870 marked a major transition in the firm's output and began its decline. Though Imray's son, James Frederick, excelled at authoring pilot books he had little experience with charts and issued few new publications. Most James Frederick Imray publications issued from 1870 to 1899 were either revisions of earlier maps prepared by his father or copies of British Admiralty charts. Charts from this period are recognizable as being less decorative than the elder Imray's charts following the stylistic conventions established by the Admiralty. The Admiralty itself at the same time began to rise in prominence, issuing its own official charts that were both cheaper and more up to date than those offered by private enterprises. By the end of the century the firm was well in decline and, in 1899 "James Imray and Son" amalgamated with the similarly suffering "Norie and Wilson", which was itself acquired by Laurie in 1904. Today it continues to publish maritime charts as "Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson". Learn More...
Good. Some soiling, cracking, and age toning. Pencil marks relating to navigational use - could be erased at buyer's discretion. Original blue paper backing and linen edging.