Rare large American published broadside chart of Maritime Flags, published in New York by Charles Copley and sold by Edmund & GW Blunt, dated 1851.
While publishers in Europe began making separately issued Flag charts in the 18th Century, this is the finest large format American published broadside we have ever seen. It also pre-dates the only recorded example of this broadside which we could locate, the 1855 edition with 186 flags held by the Peabody Essex Museum.
The chart includes many unusual flags, including a Flags for Merchant's Pilot, New York; American Commodores Pennant; American Yacht Club; American Jack; American Customs and the New York Yacht Club, along with the Russian American Company.
This remarkable chart includes 187 smaller flags and pennants arranged in 11 rows, with larger flags of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France in the corners. American merchant and naval flags are well represented, as are those of the major European powers, but one also finds those of newly-ascendant countries in Latin America, as well as Asian fleets such as those of China, Japan and Burma. All are colored with great care using a palette of blue, buff, green, red, rose and yellow. The coloring on the flag of the "Emperor of Austria," "Spanish Standard," "Tuscany Man of War," "Sardinian Standard," and "Naples War and Merchant", in particular, stand out for their astonishing attention to detail.
By the 19th century, books and broadsides providing mariners with a ready reference to the hundreds of flags they might encounter at sea were an established genre, with numerous examples published here and in Europe. This broadside by Copley is however remarkable for its size, very fine coloring and extreme rarity.
Charles Copley and E. & G.W. Blunt
Charles Copley was an engraver and publisher of nautical charts active in New York from the early 1840s well into the 1870s. The New York City-based firm of Blunt was the first to compete with English firms for primacy in the American market. Established by Edmund March Blunt (1770-1862), the firm published and compiled navigational books, charts and other aids. Blunt retired in 1826 or 1827, and passed management of the firm on to his sons Edmund and George William, who by 1828 were operating as "E. & G.W. Blunt." The firm continued for many years, eventually being passed to a third generation of management before closing in 1872.
The broadside bears a copyright date of 1847, but we find no reference to any known examples of that or the present 1851 edition. OCLC #868710954 lists only a 1855 edition with 186 flags, held by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.