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1861 Blunt Blueback Nautical Chart or Map of Florida, Carolina, Virginia, and Cuba

[Chesapeake Bay to Cuba] - Main View

1861 Blunt Blueback Nautical Chart or Map of Florida, Carolina, Virginia, and Cuba


Massive blueblack Nautical Chart of the southeastern United States coastline.


[Chesapeake Bay to Cuba]
  1861 (dated)     31 x 96 in (78.74 x 243.84 cm)


A massive four panel 1861 Edmund Blunt blueback nautical chart or maritime map covering the southeastern coast of the United States from the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay to Florida and Cuba, including Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts. This highly detailed chart is a fine example of Blunt's work offering limited inland detail but a wealth of nautical information including countless depth soundings, light houses, shore lines, river soundings, shipping lanes, and other practical information for the mariner. Although mostly focused on the southeastern United States, the leftmost map or southern sheet, extends to cover Cuba and offers an excellent inset of Havana.
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
The two left panels are dated and bear the E. and G.W. Blunt imprint.


Edmund March Blunt (June 20, 1770 - 1862) was an American navigator, bookseller, chartmaker, and cartographer based in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Blunt was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1770. In 1796, along with the nominal assistance of prominent navigator Captain Lawrence Furlong, Blunt published The American Coast Pilot, one of the most important published works on American navigation. Although much of the work was plagiarized from British publications, the Coast Pilot was an immediate popular success. In response to the popularity of his work, Blunt published 21 subsequent editions, each with important updates and revisions. The first edition to contain map plates was printed in 1804. Following a fire that destroyed his offices at The Sign of the Bible in 1811, Blunt moved his business to New York and opened a new shop, The Sign of the Quadrant. His sons Edmund Jr. (1799 - 1866) and George William (1802 - 1878), joined the firm in 1824 and eventually took over the family business, renaming the firm 'E. and G. W. Blunt'. They both produced their own nautical books, charts, and instruments, as well as republished their father’s work. In 1830, Edmund accepted a position under Ferdinand Hassler at the United States Office of the Coast Survey. Much of Blunt's original work eventually found its way into U.S. Coast Survey Publications. George closed the firm in 1872 and sold the plates and chart copyrights to the U.S. Coast Survey and the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office. Due to the quality and detail of Blunt's work, revised editions of his most important charts were republished well into the 1880s. More by this mapmaker...


Good condition. Four sheets joined and backed with blue paper. Some color disparity between panels. Some warping where panels were joined. Leftmost panel exhibits some water damage in upper quadrants. A couple of pencil marks relating to navigational use.