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The First Modern American Published Sea Chart of the Atlantic Coast -- Cuba / Florida Keys to Long Island

Nice example of Edmund Blunt's extremely rare sea chart of the East Coast of North America, from Long Island to Cuba, first issued in 1820.

This large format blue back chart was used extensively, with pencil and ink annotations reflecting use at sea over a number of years, especially in the area between the Florida Keys, Cuba, The Bahamas and Carolina Coastline.

The Chart includes 10 profile views, 12 harbor insets, including:

  • Sapello
  • Charleston Harbor
  • Port Royal
  • St. Mary's River Inlet
  • Cape Fear
  • Cape Lookout
  • Cape Hatteras
  • Winyaw Bay, George Town, South Carolina
  • Lewistown Bay
  • St. Augustine
  • Bald Head Island & Vicinity (North Carolina)
  • Havana

All other recorded examples of this chart extend to just south of New York Harbor in the north and to the north coast of Cuba in the south. This variant edition includes an extension of the map at the top (to include all of New York Harbor) and the bottom (to include most of Cuba). Curiously, it does not include the eastern "L" shaped extension at the south end of the chart which is shown on the New York Public Library's copy of the 1824 edition of the map and Harvard's copy of the 1826 edition of the map.

Blunt's chart was the first general chart of the United States published in America. The chart was originally issued in 1815, with a dedication to "the Marine Society of the City of New York" (Charted by King George in 1770). It is probable that in 1820, Blunt revised the title of the chart on the occasion of the organization of the New York Nautical Institution and Ship Master' Society, which was organized on January 27, 1820, "for the purpose of promoting nautical skill and knowledge and affording aid and relief to unfortunate ship-masters and their destitute widows and orphans." (taken from the original Charter).

While Guthorn notes the existence of the 1815 edition of the chart dedicated to the Marine Society, he makes no mention of the existence of "new edition" in his list of titles of Blunt's general maps of the United States (Guthorn, p89-92). Based upon the information below, it appears that this "new edition" of the chart was first published in 1820, then revised (with a slight change to the title) in 1824, before being superseded by a new chart in 1827.

Blunt's chart of the Eastern United States first appeared in 1820 under the title To the Marine Society of the City of New York, this chart extending . . . 1820..

Phillips notes that the copy in the Library of Congress holds a copy of the New edition; corrected and improved by the surveys taken in the sloop Orbit, under the direction of E.C. Ward, Francis Mallaby, U.S. Navy, and others: with plans and views by J.R. Madison, U.S. Navy and E. Blunt, in 1820.

The Library of Congress also holds copies of the chart dated 1821, which includes an addition to the New edition note, which reads, " And by Surveys of Chesapeake bay and the coast of North Carolina by order of the United States Navy Board."

Based upon the foregoing, there may be an unrecorded edition which pre-dates the 1820 "New Edition."

In addition to the 2 copies listed by Phillips, we note also copies of the 1824 edition (New York Public Library and University of Kansas) and a variant 1826 edition (Harvard), which lacks the panels at the top and bottom of our edition of the map.

New York Public Library example:

Condition Description
9=sheet Blue Back Chart (joined, as issued), with extensive navigational annotations in pencil. A few minor chips and tears.