Rare separately published sea chart of the Northwestern Coast of Iceland, based upon the survey work of Ohlsen Frisak, Hans Wetlesen, Hans Jacob Scheel and Moritz Ludvig Born for the Kongelige Danske Søkort-Arkiv (Royal Danish Chart Archive).
Charting the Coast of Iceland
As of the end of the 18th Century, there were still no meaningfully accurate charts of the coast of Iceland. The first serious work on this project was undertaken under the auspices of the Danish Royal Navy by captain Hans Erik Minor, who wassent to Iceland in 1776. Minor surveyed the area from Reykjanes to Snæfellsness, before his untimely death. Also in 1776, J. P. Wleugel was dispatched to Iclenad to survey parts of the eastern Fjords. In 1788, Minor's charts were published under the direction of Poul de Løvenørn, director of the Danish Institute of Surveying, with their corrections and changes.
While the completion of the charting of these sections of Iceland was important, a signficant part of the island remained uncharted. Poul de Løvenørn led the effort to persuade the Royal Court to recommence surveying in 1800, proposing that the coastal measurements be resumed off Iceland and pointing out that Minor and Wleugel's charts were not suffciently accurate. It was resolved to pursue the project, with Norwegian officers Ole Mentzen Aanum and Ole Ohlsen, commissioned for the work.
In 1803, Ohlsen was joined by Hans Jørgen Wetlesen and Hans Frisak. In 1805-6, Ohlsen and Wetlesen resigned and were replaced by Michael Smith and Hans Jacob Scheel. It was then up to Frisak and Scheel to do most of the work. When they left in 1814, they had triangulated the entire coast but had not completed the project. In 1815, Lieutenant Moritz Ludvig Born and Surveyor Arent Aschlund were sent to Iceland to complete the work, which required until 1818. In all, the surveying work had lasted for 18 years.
The resulting coastal charts were thereafter issued in six parts between 1818-1826 by Løvenørn with the help of Scheels. The chart of Faxaflói was not released, perhaps because Minor's chart of 1788 covered the region. An key map was included at a scale of 1: 1,000,000. Some maps are decorated with thumbnails of Icelandic nature and human life. In addition to the charts themselves, Løvenørn compiled three editions of a pilot book, following a similar publication he published in 1788 with Minor's maps.
With these measurements, a significant milestone in the survey of the Iceland was completed and the shorelines were, for the first time, more or less correct. The maps show the main mountains and rivers by the coast, but it would take several more decades for Björn Gunnlaugsson's maps to address the interior regions.
Between 1820 and 1826 the following five sheets were published:
1. Snæfellsjökull to Cap Nord, in 1820, by Frisch, Westlesen, Smith, Scheel, Born, and Aschlund.
2. North Coast, in 1821, by Majors Ridder and Scheel, and Captains Frisch and Born.
3 and 4. South Coast, in 1823, by Scheel, Born, Graah, and Aschlund.
5. East Coast, in 1824, by Olsen, Born, Graah, and Aschlund.
The general chart of 1826, uniting these “trigonometrical, geographical, and hydrographical surveys,” is, according to Mr Alexander Findlay, F.R.G.S., carefully executed, and became the basis of all subsequent issues.