North Pacific Ocean
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Edward March Blunt (1770-1862) and Geroge William Blunt (1802-1878)
North Pacific Ocean
New York: 1850
2 Sheets: 36 4/8” x 53”, Framed: 60 1/4” x 44”
A detailed and large-scale chart of the northern Pacific Ocean from Kamchatka to the Atlantic side of Panama, with a large inset of the “Sandwich Islands”, ie Hawaiian Islands, in upper right, and a smaller inset “Part of Upper California” just beneath. All major towns and missions along the North American coast are located and named, in the East Bay, Castro and S. Leandro, Rancho of Castro and Rancho Peralta are located, the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are shown, Tule Lakes and the Sierra Nevada. The inset of northern California extends from San Simeon to Bodega Bay and a bit east of Mt. Diablo.
The pencilled ship tracks include that for the Brig Oriental, dated 1853, coming from south of the equator turning east then north and west of Hawaii, to San Francisco. However most record the ship Far West, from 1854 to 1856. The position of Fanning Island, now Tabuaeran, has been corrected in manuscript by moving it about 1º west.
Warren Heckrotte notes: “The New York Times “Maritime Intelligence” notes several instances of the Far West arriving in New York City from New Orleans. The Oriental left Maine in 1849 for San Francisco. The Far West was in SF Bay in 1850; see Delgado, To California by Sea. I have a Blunt chart of the west coast from the Gulf of Dulce to San Francisco, 1848. The rendition of the California coast is much different than on this chart - one year makes a difference. The date in the lower margin is 1850. Does this indicate a new issue? References: Burstyn, Harold, At the Sign of the Quadrant. This is a history of the Blunts. It does not provide details of their charts or a listing. At this time of writing their was no compilation of their charts. Among their many publications was Sailing Directions for the West Coast of North America, from Bodega Cape to San Lucas, 1849. A companion to this chart?”
Blunt was one of “America’s first hydrographers. He published some of the first nautical books and charts in the United States. The American Coast Pilot was first printed in 1796. It went through twenty-one editions before being taken over by the federal government in 1867. The American Coast Pilot provided sailing directions from Passamaquoddy, Maine, to the Strait of Florida. It included soundings and bearings of the lighthouses and beacons (such as there were) from rocks, shoals, ledges, etc. The volume also had courses and distances between numerous locations, settings of the currents, and tide tables. The book was extremely popular with ship owners and masters and lives on today as the Coast Pilot published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 1799, he retained Nathaniel Bowditch to update the British publication The New Practical Navigator and adapt it to American needs. The third edition, published in 1802, had been significantly altered from the original and was renamed as the American Practical Navigator. We know it now simply as Bowditch. Few people today are aware that the originator of both publications—the Coast Pilot and Bowditch—was Edmund Blunt. He also compiled some of the first detailed surveys of major US east coast ports, from Boston to Charleston. The standards he established in 1796 for accuracy and thoroughness continue today as a worthy legacy to a major, but largely forgotten, figure in American nautical history” (Dennis Bryant, “Edmund M. Blunt: Forgotten Pioneer of Nautical Charting and Publishing in the United States” in Maritime Musings, January 2010).