Rare early sea chart of China, extending from Hong Kong and Macao to Mongchow and Hawcheun, published by the British Admiralty in September 1853, with a contemporary annotation identifying the earliest western style lighthouse constructed in East Asia or China!
Victoria is named on Hong Kong and the earliest building are shown on the northern coastline of the island.
Detailed chart, with extensive soundings and other sailing information. An area on Macao island notes "Pass for small junks."
The present example includes the following manuscript annotation in Spanish, near Macao, most likely an eye witness account of a lighted fortress on the hill overlooking Macao:
Macao una luz giratorio en el castillo mas alto prosima a la ciudad
At the actual location of the lighthouse, a classic yellow and red spot has been added, with a second annotation state "luz giratorio."
The lighted fortress is almost certainly intended as the addition of Guia Fortress, a 17th century colonial military fort, chapel and lighthouse complex overlooking Macao. The fort and chapel were constructed between 1622 and 1638 by the Portugese. The lighthouse was added in 1864 and 1865, the first western style lighthouse in east Asia or on the Chinese Coast!
It would seem with reasonable certainty that the user of the chart has augmented the chart to locate the Guia Fortress and lighthouse, which had not yet been built as of the date of the printing of this chart.
The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.
In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.
Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.
In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.
Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.
During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.