1874 Imray Blueback Nautical Chart or Maritime Map of the Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean. - Main View

1874 Imray Blueback Nautical Chart or Maritime Map of the Indian Ocean


Giant blueback working nautical chart of the Indian Ocean with in manuscript navigational notes.


Indian Ocean.
  1874 (dated)     75 x 50.5 in (190.5 x 128.27 cm)     1 : 7730000


This is a gigantic 1874 James Imray and Son blueback working nautical chart or maritime map of the Indian Ocean covered in manuscript notations. The map depicts the world from East Africa to Fiji and from Taiwan and the Persian Gulf to 60 degrees south latitude. Manuscript pencil notations trace at least three, possibly four, voyages across the Indian Ocean. These notations mark the vessel's location on its trip across the ocean and notes what is most likely the day of the expedition. Apart from these four voyages, numerous routes between various points throughout the region are also illustrated, with a particular concentration running from the Gulf of Aden to the East Indies, frequented trade routes between England and the Netherlands and these colonies rich in natural resources. Myriad locations are identified throughout, particularly along the coastlines and small islands making up parts of archipelagos situated throughout the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea. Eight inset maps are situated on the map's left side and illustrate Cargados Carajos, Coetivy, Rodrigues, Wood Island, Farquhar Passage, Tromelin, Réunion, and the cities of Saint Paul and Saint Denis on Réunion.
Publication History and Census
This chart was created and published by James Imray and Son in 1874. No examples of the 1874 edition of this chart are cataloged in the OCLC and we are aware of only one example of the 1874 edition that has entered the private market. Examples of other editions are part of institutional collections. An example of the 1877 edition is part of the collections of the Royal Museums Greenwich and an empty OCLC reference is cataloged for the 1875 edition.


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". More by this mapmaker...


Good. Soiling along bottom. Closed tear extending six inches into printed area from bottom margin professionally repaired on verso. Some areas of infill. Bland on verso.


Royal Museums Greenwich NTY201:6/2 (1877 edition). OCLC 793038684 (1875 edition).