A rare 1825 James Norie blueback nautical chart or maritime map of the South Pacific with notations from a whaling voyage undertaken between 1855 and 1856. The chart, a composite of three charts joined by the original owner, covers from Borneo and Australia to South America and The Falkland Islands.
A Whaler's AnnotationsThe pencil manuscript annotations throughout are extensive, and include the sighting of whales, descriptions of islands, and notes regarding storms and errors on the chart - providing a unique insight into the interests and experience of the 19th century whaler. The notes are most extensive around the Galapagos Islands, the Society Islands, and the Friendly Islands, all premium whaling grounds. Whale sightings are specifically noted around Galapagos. There is a great deal of attention given to what the navigator calls 'Horn Islands', today's Wallis and Futuna, located between Fiji and Samoa, which are the subject of two of the longer annotations.
Blueback ChartsBlueback 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 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 CensusThis chart was published by John William Norie as three separate charts in 1825. Such charts were designed to be joined and compiled as needed to create larger charts - as here. Rare in this state, unique with the annotations.
John William Norie (June 3, 1772 - December 24, 1843) was a British teacher of navigation, hydrographer, chart maker, and publisher of maritime manuals active in London, England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Norie was born in Wapping, London, an area long associated with the maritime sciences. Norie's career as a chart maker commenced under the tutelage of William Heather, a prominent purveyor and publisher of nautical charts, pilot books, and navigational tools who took over the firm of Mount and Page in 1765. Heather and Norie were likely acquainted through John Hamilton Moore, another important chart maker with whom both seem to have been associated early in their careers. Heather hired Norie to teach basic navigation at his shop at 157 Leadenhall Street. Under Heather Norie also distinguished himself as a draftsman, completing many of the early charts associated with the Heather firm. When Heather died in 1812 John Norie partnered with George Wilson, a moneyed 'man about town' with little experience in the maritime trades, to acquire the map and chart business at 9500 British Pounds. It proved a good deal for Norie, who retained all copyright privileges and drew 1/4 quarter share of business profits, as well an impressive quarterly salary and, for doing all of the work, 1/3rd of Wilson's share. The firm, referred to as the 'Naval Warehouse' quickly acquired a reputation for quality navigational materials and became a favorite of merchant seamen. It was even referenced in Charles Dickens' classic novel Dombey and Son. In 1819, Norie and Wilson acquired the failing chart business of David Steel, which significantly increased the size, though not quality, of their chart catalogue. With the rise of the British Admiralty and its own maritime chart productions, the business of "Chart Purveyor" in London dramatically changed. Admiralty charts and pilot books, designed for military use, were offered through established intermediaries, like Norie, at bargain prices. Most chart makers of the period found it profitable to use the highly technical Admiralty charts to update their own more decorative vernacular charts. For a brief time this practice proved exceptionally profitable but eventually began to draw criticism. Nonetheless, Norie retired to Edinburgh in 1840 and died a wealthy man in 1843. In 1840 the business passed to a nephew of George Wilson, Charles Wilson, who renamed the firm "Norie & Wilson". William Heather Norie, J. W. Norie's own son, produced few charts, instead pursuing a career in the legal field. Norie & Wilson merged with James Imray's prosperous chart business in 1899, becoming Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson, a profitable concern that remains active in the maritime charting industry. Learn More...
Good. Laid down on fresh blue paper backing. Some toning and surface abrasion. Pencil annotations related to navigation.