Striking large scale three-sheet blue-backed sea chart, published by James Imray & Son and including the orginal brown paste down label for the firm on the verso of the chart. This chart depicts all of the Northern Pacific. There are forty inset maps of islands and harbors, including a massive map of theSandwich Islands (Hawaii), Honoruru (Pearl Harbor), Midway, Bonin, Guajan, Cocos and Socorro Islands. Working sea charts are inherently rare due to the nature of their use aboard ships. Although likely common when first made, the vast majority of them were either destroyed by use or destroyed intentionally when new updated versions were obtained. One of the earliest examples to include the additional insets.. Imray originally was in the stationary and account book publishing business. In 1836 Imray joined with Michael Blachford, a small sea chart publisher based in London. The partnership flourished and soon began to compete with the larger firm of Norie and Wilson. In 1846 Imray bought out Blachford, taking over as sole proprietor. The firm later, led by descendents, survived into the 20th Century. The present example has some very minor dampstaining along the lower part of the map, but is generally in excellent condition for working chart.
James Imray was a publisher specialized in nautical charts. He started one of the most successful blue-back chart-selling companies of the nineteenth century; it is still in business today. Imray’s father was a dyer and he was born in Spitalfields, London, an area known for its garment industry. James did not want to enter the garment trade, however, and instead apprenticed to Stationer William Lukyn in 1818. Imray began his business as a book publisher and seller; however, he shared premises with Robert Blachford, a chartseller. Imray entered into business with Robert’s successor, Michael. He turned the business into a success and bought Blachford out in 1846, publishing under the imprint of James Imray. In 1854, son James Frederick joined as a partner and the imprint changed to Imray & Son. They thrived thanks to targeted marketing and excellent compilation charts that focused on trade routes. The busines entered in a long decline after the death of James Sr. in 1870. In 1899, Imray & Son amalgamated with Norie & Wilson. This conglomerate was bought by the Laurie firm in 1904 and today the business trades as Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson.