1849 Admiralty Blueback Nautical Map of Fujian (Xiamen / Amoy) China

China Sheet IV. Eastern Coast from Chauan Bay to Port Matheson Including the Pescadore Islands. - Main View

1849 Admiralty Blueback Nautical Map of Fujian (Xiamen / Amoy) China


Treaty Ports in China.


China Sheet IV. Eastern Coast from Chauan Bay to Port Matheson Including the Pescadore Islands.
  1849 (dated)     26.25 x 39.5 in (66.675 x 100.33 cm)     1 : 311450


This is an 1849 British Admiralty Hydrographic Office nautical map of the Fujian coast of China. First published in 1844, only two years after the end of the First Opium War (1839 - 1842), Xiamen (Amoy) was the first of five treaty ports opened to the Europeans after the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, officially opening China to European traders. Before this treaty, only one port, Guangzhou, was open to European traders. Thus, this chart provided necessary details for mariners and traders taking advantage of this new market.
A Closer Look
Coastal locations are identified from Chauan Bay to Meichen Sound, along with the Pescadores or Penghu Islands, and myriad depth soundings are indicated throughout, allowing sailors a better understanding of what lay ahead. That said, little detail is included inland from the coast, rendering apparent the Admiralty's lack of knowledge about the territory, even if it had surveyed the coastline. Two inset maps are situated along the left border.
The First Opium War
The First Opium War, or the Anglo-Chinese War, (1839 - 1842) was a series of engagements fought between the United Kingdom and Qing China over trade and diplomatic relations. By the middle of the 19th century, an enormous trade imbalance had developed between Europe and China due to the high demand for Chinese goods (silk, porcelain, tea) in Europe and the low demand for European goods (English wool, anyone?) in China. To balance the trade, the British East India Company introduced Indian-grown opium to the Chinese market. The opium trade led to waves of addiction throughout China and reversed the trade imbalance within a couple of years.

In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor, seeking to stem the tide of narcotic addiction in China, banned opium entirely and blockaded China's only open trade port - Canton (Guangzhou). They also seized and destroyed nearly 20,000 chests, roughly 1200 tons, of opium. Foreign traders within Canton were confined to their offices without access to outside food or supplies - essentially forcing them into a 'capitulate or starve' situation.

The British subsequently dispatched a naval and military force to China. The Royal Navy used its cannon power to inflict a series of decisive defeats on the Qing at various Chines ports, forcing them to the negotiating table - a tactic later referred to as 'gunboat diplomacy.' By 1842, when this map was drawn, the Qing were forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, the first of the Unequal Treaties. The Treaty of Nanking created five open treaty ports and ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire. The Opium trade quickly resumed, but escalating tensions led to the Second Opium War (1856 - 1860) just 14 years later in 1856.
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 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 Census
This map was published by the Hydrographic Office of the British Admiralty in 1849, with the first edition published five years earlier in 1844. A single example of this map is recorded in the OCLC and is part of the institutional collection at the National Library of Australia.


The British Admiralty Office (1795 - Present) or the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office refers to the Branch of the English government that is responsible for the command of the British Navy. In 1795 King George III created the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, known in short as the U.K.H.O., to provide top notch nautical charts to the vast Royal Navy. Prior the founding of the Admiralty the surveying and creation of nautical charts was primarily a commercial venture wherein the cartographer himself, more of than not, actually financed the printing of his own material. The great navigator Cook himself is known to have scrambled for funds to publish his own seminal charts - the most important and advanced of the period. The system of privately funded nautical mapping and publishing left vast portions of the world uncharted and many excellent charts unpublished. King George III, responding significant loss in trade revenue related to shipwrecks and delay due to poor charts, recognized the need for an institutionalized government sponsored cartographic agency - the Admiralty. The first head of the Admiralty, a position known as Hydrographer, was the important cartographer Alexander Dalrymple. Dalrymple started by organizing and cataloging obtainable charts before initiating the laborious process of updating them and filling in the blanks. The first official Admiralty Chart appeared in 1800 and detailed Quiberon Bay in Brittany. By 1808 the position of Hydrographer fell to Captain Thomas Hurd. Hurd advocated the sale of Admiralty charts to the general public and, by the time he retired in 1829, had issued and published some 736 charts. Stewardship of the organization then passed to Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. It was under Beaufort's administration that the Admiralty truly developed as a "chart making" as opposed to a "chart cataloging" institution. Beaufort held his post from 1829 to 1854. In his 25 years at the Admiralty Beaufort created nearly 1500 new charts and sponsored countless surveying and scientific expeditions - including the 1831 to 1836 voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. By 1855 the Admiralty's chart catalog listed some 1,981 charts. More by this mapmaker...

John Walker (1787 - April 19, 1873) was a British map seller, engraver, lithographer, hydrographer, geographer, draughtsman, and publisher active in London during the 19th century. Walker published both nautical charts and geographical maps. His nautical work is particularly distinguished as he was an official hydrographer for the British East India Company, a position, incidentally, also held by his father of the same name. Walker's maps, mostly published after 1827, were primarily produced with his brothers Charles Walker and Alexander Walker under the imprint J. and C. Walker. Among their joint projects are more than 200 maps for the influential Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Atlas (SDUK). In addition they published numerous charts for James Horsburgh and the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office, including Belcher's important map of Hong Kong and Carless' exploratory map of Karachi. The J. and C. Walker firm continued to publish after both Walkers died in the 1870s. Learn More...

Richard Collinson (November 7, 1811 – September 13, 1883) was an English naval officer, marine surveyor, and Arctic explorer. He was born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, then part of Durham. He joined the Royal Navy in 1823, at age twelve, and rose in the ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 1835, commander in 1841, and captain in 1842. Collinson was a highly capable captain. He participated with distinction in the First Opium War (1839 - 1842). After the war, along with Commander Henry Kellett, he completed a series of pioneering surveys of the China coast from the Yangtze River to Hong Kong. These he completed between 1842 and 1846 while serving as commander of the HMS Plover. In 1850, he was sent north in command of the HMS Enterprise to search for survivors of the Sir John Franklin expedition. Although he came quite close, he never found Franklin's lost men and returned to England without success. Nonetheless, he was honored by the Royal Geographical Society for his surveys in the Arctic and proof that it was navigable from the Behring Strait to King William's Land. Collinson was Knighted in 1875, the same year in which he retired from active duty with the rand of Admiral. Collinson died in September of 1883. Learn More...


Average. Professionally restored and rebacked. Closed tears in upper left corner. Area of infill in upper left quadrant in the inset maps.


OCLC 221035733.