[The English Channel] Dedicated to the Honorable The Commissioners For Inspecting Charts for the use of the Royal Navy.
1843 (dated) 38.5 x 75.5 in (97.79 x 191.77 cm)
1 : 560400
A stunning, enormous, and rare 1853 maritime map or nautical chart of the English Channel by Robert Blachford, considered by some to be the father of the Blueback Chart. Centered on the English Channel, the map covers from western Ireland to the French coastline and from St. Georges Channel to Brest. The body of southern England is filled with profile sketches of important ports and dangerous passages. In addition, the areas of visibility are for most important lighthouses and lightships are shown. There are several smaller submaps detailing important harbors, including Ushant, Havre de Grace, Cherbourg, Falmouth, Downs and Margate, Plymouth, Cork, and the Silly Islands. The chart exhibits copious pencil annotations throughout, illustrating that this was working sea chart used shipboard. The present chart exhibits the classic highly embellished style the make early blueback charts so highly desirable.
Publication History and CensusThis map was first issued in 1835, with updates published in 1841, 42, and 43. The OCLC lists another chart of the same name dated 1827, but this may be a different chart, as we have not been able to acquire an image. Verified examples of this chart are located at only the Library of Congress and at U.C. Berkeley.
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.
Good. Professionally restored. Loss to insets in the lower right, repaired with neatlines reinstated.