1882 Eldridge Nautical Chart or Map of Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts

Eldridge's Chart No. 10. Buzzard's Bay, from the United States Coast and George Eldridge's Surveys. - Main View

1882 Eldridge Nautical Chart or Map of Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts


American Whaling Capital.


Eldridge's Chart No. 10. Buzzard's Bay, from the United States Coast and George Eldridge's Surveys.
  1882 (dated)     30.5 x 36.5 in (77.47 x 92.71 cm)     1 : 55000


This is a scarce, separately issued 1882 George Eldridge nautical map of Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts.
A Closer Look
This elegantly produced linen-backed chart depicts from the west coast of Cape Cod and includes New Bedford, Falmouth, Sippican, Wareham, Woods Hole, and Mattapoisett, among other towns. Eldridge provides essential maritime information, with numerous soundings (in feet) and notations for undersea ledges, shoals, and other dangers. Cartographically, this chart is derived from the work of the U.S. Coast Survey (U.S.C.S.) and Eldridge's own surveys. The verso bears two stamps, one identifying the chart and a second offering a catalog of Eldridge charts numbering 1 through 13, this being no 10.
Blueback Charts
Blueback 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 wrap unbound pamphlets, was adopted as a practical way to reinforce the low-quality paper used by private chart publishers to cut costs. That being said, not all blueback charts are literally backed with blue paper; some are unbacked or backed with linen. Moreover, as blueback charts were typically composed of multiple sheets, they were designed modularly so that adjacent charts could be joined to create truly massive custom maps suited for specific voyages. 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 Census
Eldridge originally published this chart in 1874 in partnership with Samuel Thaxter Cushing. It was engraved by George Washington Boynton. It proved popular through several editions until about 1895. The present example is dated 1882, and bears an additional 1883 stamp for Thaxter, likely acting as a sales agent. Three examples of this map are cataloged in OCLC and represent editions published in 1885 and 1896.


George Eldridge (November 1821 - August 1900) and his son George Washington Eldridge (1845 - 1914) were American makers of nautical charts and Pilot Books active in the late 19th century. George Eldridge was a Cape Cod fisherman known locally as an excellent ship's pilot. While recuperating from an injury in 1851, Eldridge drew his first nautical chart. The chart proved popular, and its success led Eldridge to pursue a career in hydrography - the science of mapping the sea with a special focus on navigation. Eldridge produced numerous subsequent maps and is credited with issuing some of the earliest accurate nautical charts of the American Atlantic coast. In time George Eldridge passed his thriving business on to his son, George Washington Eldridge, who continued to produce beautiful and practical maritime charts until 1924. Though most of Eldridge's charts were loosely based on U.S. Coast Survey work, they proved popular with navigators. The Eldridges possessed a talent, shared by both father and son, for distilling the often convoluted Coast Survey maps into practical nautical charts for the working mariner. From 1875, in addition to large format independently issued nautical charts, Eldridge also issued annual editions of Eldridge's Tide and Pilot Book and The Book of Harbor Charts. The Eldridge offices were located at 103 State St. Boston, Massachusetts. After the deaths of George and George Washington Eldridge, the firm passed into the hands of the latter's widow Sydna, and son-in-law, Wilfrid O. Wight. Wight's son and subsequent generations have continued to publish the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book down to the present. More by this mapmaker...

Samuel Thaxter and Son (fl. 1792 - 1916). Samuel Thaxter (1769 - 1842) is the founder of a Boston dynasty of manufacturers of mathematical instruments and nautical charts. He founded the firm in 1792 and is first referenced in the 1796 Boston Directory. Around 1822 he incorporated his son, Joseph H. Thaxter (1801 - 1835), into the business renaming it 'Samuel Thaxter and Son'. The firm would retain this name for the remainder of its existence. This successful business was subsequently passed to Joseph H. Thaxter's son, Samuel Thaxter Cushing (1821 - 1882), in 1843. It was Thaxter Cushing who developed the firm's publishing arm, partnering with the Boston nautical chart maker George Eldridge. They are best known for 13 large format blueback charts focusing on the east cost of the United States published in the second half of the 19th century. They also published numerous smaller maps and pilot books. After Thaxter Cushing died the firm was taken over by his widow, Abby C. Cushing, who managed it until 1905. It was subsequently managed by Herbert Risteen Starratt and continued to be registered in the Boston Directory until about 1916. Learn More...

George Washington Boynton (fl. c. 1830 - 1850) was a Boston based cartographer and map engraver active in the first half of the 19th century. Boynton engraved and compiled maps for numerous publishers including Thomas Bradford, Nathaniel Dearborn, Daniel Adams, and S. G. Goodrich. His most significant work is most likely his engraving of various maps for Bradford's Illustrated Atlas, Geographical, Statistical, and Historical, of the United States and the Adjacent Countries and Universal Illustrated Atlas. He also engraved for the Boston Almanac. In 1835, Boynton is listed as an employee of the Boston Bewick Company, an engraving, stereotype, and printing concern based at no. 47 Court Street, Boston. Little else is known of his life. Learn More...


Very good. Minor soiling.


Boston Public Library, Leventhal Collection, G3762.B8P5 1876. OCLC: 57014527 (1885).