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Description

Rare Chart of New Zealand, South Pacific and Coast of South America by R. H. Laurie

Large chart of the Pacific, with an inset of the Falklands, etc., including pencil notes showing tracks from Sydney to Lima of several voyages in the mid-1850s and early-1860s. The chart extends from New Zealand and the New Hebrides in the west to South America and the South Shetland Islands in the east, with a large inset of the Falkland Islands and smaller inset plans of Port Desire, Port San Carlos (Chiloe Island), Coquimbo Bay and Callao Road.

In an 1845 pamphlet, chart seller Richard Henry Laurie advertised 'a Chart of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with Plans of the Harbours, &c. on Twelve Sheets', 'constructed' by J. Purdy. The present charts are sheets 10, 11 and 12, which were sold individually for 4 shillings, 4 shillings and 7 shillings 6 pence. The entire set cost three pounds.

The present charts, dated 1849, 1851 and 1851 respectively, would appear to be some of the earliest surviving extant examples of the charts. The individual charts are titled and dated as follows:

  • New-Zealand and Oceanic Islands. (1849 edition)
  • Southern Pacific Ocean, with its Eastern Islands (1851 edition)
  • South America, with its Islands (1851 edition).

Laurie advertised that the series was the most up-to-date and detailed charting of Indian and Pacific Oceans, incorporating recent discoveries like Dougherty Island (1841) and Fitzroy's survey (with Charles Darwin) of the Falklands Islands (1833-4). However, this seems to be a slightly later state, as the dedication is to Admiral Beaufort, who became a rear-admiral in 1846.


The chart was 'constructed' by a J. Purdy. John Purdy was a hydrographer and the chief chart maker for Richard Holmes Laurie. Purdy died of gangrene in late January 1843, which means he must have compiled the map prior to that year but not published until after his death.

Richard Holmes Laurie was the son of mezzotint engraver Robert Laurie, who had taken over Robert Sayer's publishing house with James Whittle in 1794. Robert had made a name for himself as a specialist in charts, having published such charts as James Cook's ' Survey of the South Coast of Newfoundland' (1776) and the ' Surveys of St. George's Channel,' (1777).

When the Hydrographic Office opened in 1795, it was tasked with creating and producing all the nautical charts for the Royal Navy so as to wean the Navy off dependence on foreign charts. By the 1820s, private publishers were augmenting and competing with the Hydrographic Office, including Richard Holmes Laurie. Richard took over the business after his father's retirement in 1812 and gave up publishing anything except nautical materials by 1830. He also sold charts to Trinity House, the lighthouse and maritime safety fraternity. He died in 1858.

Laurie dedicates this chart to Admiral Beaufort, i.e. Francis Beaufort, Royal Naval officer and hydrographer. After serving at sea since 1789, including celebrated surveys of Rio de la Plata and the coast of Turkey, Beaufort ascended to position of Hydrographer of the Navy in 1829. He retained the post for 26 years, overseeing the production of over 1000 charts. He retired in 1855 as a rear-admiral, a KCB, and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Royal Geographical Society.

The following is the complete text of Laurie's 1845 advertisement:

THE INDIAN AND PACIFIC OCEANS.

Mr. Laurie begs to announce that he has now in course of completion, a Chart of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with Plans of the Harbours, &c, on Twelve Sheets. Price of the whole £3.

The INDIAN OCEAN and ASIATIC ARCHIPELAGO, between the Red Sea and the Japanese Islands; between Latitudes 11° South and 54° North, being the First Part of the above, Sheets 1, 2, and 3, in the hands of the Engraver. Price 16s.

The following are published :-

The NORTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN, from Longitude 160° East, to the North West Coast of America, Second Part of the above, Sheets 4, 5, and 6. 14s.

The SOUTHERN PART of the INDIAN OCEAN, (Third Part of the above, Sheets 7, 8, 9,) from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia j with Plans of Harbours. 16s.

The SOUTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN, (Fourth Part, Sheets 10, 11, 12,) from New Zealand to Cape Horn and La Plata; with Plans of Harbours. 14s.

Sheet 4 of the above Chart, the NORTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN, with its Eastern Isles. 4s.

Sheet 5.-The COASTS of CALIFORNIA, the OREGON TERRITORY, &c, with Plans of the Harbours. 4s.

Sheet 6.-The WESTERN COASTS of CENTRAL AMERICA, &c, with Plans of the Sandwich Islands, and their Harbours, Acapulco Bay, Port Sacrificios, Port Guatulco, Port la Union, the Ports on the North Coast of Otaheite, the Galapagos Islands, the Bay of Panama, &c. 7s. 6d.

Sheet 7.-The COAST of SOUTH AFRICA, from Ichaboe to the Comoro Islands, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sec.; with an enlarged Chart of the Cape, and Bank of Agulhas, Simon's Bay, Algoa Bay, Mossel Bay, Plettenberg B;iy, Knysna Harbour, 8ic. Is. Gd.

Sheet 8.-The SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN, and KERGUELEN'S LAND, Sec.; with enlarged Plans of the N.E. Coast and Island of Kerguelen, Christmas Harbour, Port Palliser, Keeling Islands, and the Island of St. Paul. 4s.

Sheet 9.-The WHOLE COAST of AUSTRALIA, VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, Sec; with enlarged Plans of Bass's Strait, Port Philip, Cockburn Sound, King George's Sound, Bays of South Australia, Port Jackson, and Entrances to the River Derwent. 7s. 6d.

Sheet 10.-NEW ZEALAND and OCEANIC ISLANDS. 4s.

Sheet 11.-SOUTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN, with its Eastern Islands. 4».

Sheet 12.-COAST of SOUTH AMERICA, with its Islands, from Lima to La Plata; with enlarged Plans of Falkland Islands, Port Desire, Port San Carlos, Coquimbo Bay, and Callao Road. 7s. 6d.

Rarity

The present charts, dated 1849, 1851 and 1851 respectively, would appear to be some of the earliest surviving extant examples of the charts.

The British Library has two complete sets of the twelve sheets (1847, 1849 and 1856) and we suspect that the National Library of Australia and Royal Geographical Society may in fact have complete sets.

This set of 3 charts is very rare. We located individual examples of the following charts:

  • Sheet 10: National Maritime Museum (1851), National Library of Australia (1857), Royal Geographical Society of Australia (1869)
  • Sheet 11: National Maritime Museum (1851), National Library of Australia (1857), Royal Geographical Society of Australia (1869), State Library of New South Wales (1885)
  • Sheet 12: National Library of Australia (1858), Royal Geographical Society of Australia (1869), State Library of New South Wales (1885)

Sources:

Clayton, Timothy and Anita McConnell, 'Laurie, Robert (1755?-1836)', ODNB, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Laughton, J. K., 'Beaufort, Sir Francis (1774-1857)', rev. N. A. M. Rodger, ODNB, Oxford University Press, 2004.

J. Purdy in Laurence Worms and Ashley Baynton-Williams, British Map Engravers (London: Rare Book Society, 2011).

Condition Description
Includes contemporary pencil notes/tracks of tracks in the Pacific. Blue backed chart with one minor paper break in the Falklands, expertly repaired on the verso.
Richard Holmes Laurie Biography

Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858) was the son of mezzotint engraver Robert Laurie, who had taken over Robert Sayer's publishing house with James Whittle in 1794. Richard Holmes Laurie joined in a partnership with Whittle when his father retired in 1812. The name of the firm then switched from Laurie & Whittle to Whittle & Laurie. Whittle died in 1818, leaving Richard Holmes to continue publishing alone as R. H. Laurie.

When the Hydrographic Office opened in 1795, it was tasked with creating and producing all the nautical charts for the Royal Navy so as to wean the Navy off dependence on foreign charts. By the 1820s, private publishers were augmenting HO charts and competing with them, including Richard Holmes Laurie. Richard gave up publishing anything except nautical materials by 1830. He also sold charts to Trinity House, the lighthouse and maritime safety fraternity. He died in 1858. 

The firm continued to print under the name R.H. Laurie even after 1858. Later, the firm was managed by Laurie’s draughtsman, Alexander George Findlay, and, later, Daniel and William Kettle.