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Description

Fine example of the first detailed chart of the Gulf Coast published in America, and an extraordinary rarity.

This large blueback chart by Blunt depicts the coastline from the Mississippi Delta to just east of Florida's Appalachicola Bay. The chart includes a coastal outline with names of major towns and landmarks, soundings and other hydrographic data, and shoals and other navigational hazards. An inset map at left depicts a "Continuation of the Mississippi River and Part of the Coast of Louisiana, from actual Survey," and inset chart at upper right details the difficult entrance of Mobile Bay.

The main chart resembles the Gauld charts of the region, with a very similar but "looser" rendering of the coast, far fewer soundings, and almost none of the other hydrographic data. Guthorn comments that such simplicity would have been valued by most sailors. (United States Coastal Charts, p. 12)) There are however some interesting differences, most having to do with the toponymy: For example, the name "Bay St. Andre[w]s" is shifted westward to Gauld's "St. Rosa's Bay," while Gauld's "St. Andrew's Bay" is left unmarked. This writer has not yet identified the sources for the two insets, and any suggestions in this regard would be most welcome.

This "improved" edition is based on a chart originally published on March 1, 1815 and accompanied by a small pamphlet bearing the title D irections for sailing to and from the River Mississippi. Unfortunately the nature of the "improvements" are not described, and we were unable to locate an example of the 1815 first edition for comparison.

In fact both the 1815 and 1818 editions of the chart are of the utmost rarity. Though mentioned briefly by Guthorn in his United States Coast Charts, he was unable to locate an example of either for illustration. We were unable to locate an example in any institutional collection, auction record or dealer catalog.

The Blunt pamphlet was offered in 1906 by Goodspeeds.

The chart was utilized until the late 1820s, when it was replaced by a new chart, which was oriented differently and completely updated. An example of Blunt's second sea chart (1828 edition) can be seen here: /gallery/detail/33176mb

The map is co-owned with Boston Rare Maps.

Condition Description
Linen backed chart. Several expertly repaired tears and lingering soiling. Rebacked, with new linen.
Reference
Guthorn, United States Coastal Charts, p. 10. Not in Americana Exchange, Antique Map Price Record, OCLC, Phillips, Rumsey, or Smith and Vining’s American Geographers. Background on Blunt from Smith and Vining, pp. 19-21 and Guthorn, pp. 9-11