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Rare Early Map of Adelaide and Coastal South Australia.

Very rare British Admiralty chart first published only seventeen years after Adelaide's founding, and here presented with corrections to 1871. The map is fantastically detailed in the simple yet highly informative manner of British Admiralty charts.

While coastal detail is astounding, inland detail is equally interesting and impressive. Copper mines are shown near Wallaroo, various hills are named, and railways are shown near Adelaide. Mountain ranges and plateaus are shown. some parts of the coastline are still only guessed at, particularly on the south coast of Kangaroo Island.

The map was published shortly after the founding of Adelaide in 1836, when a colonial government was proclaimed for the territory of South Australia. Unlike the eastern states, Adelaide was founded as a free colony and did not have a ready supply of convicted labor. This was thought up by Edward Wakefield (himself having been imprisoned for kidnapping), and was remarkably successful, although the idea of not having a jail in the colony only persisted for less than a year. 

Early British Admiralty charts are very rare today because of their process of continuously being updated as new information became available, and they were often discarded. Shortly after the publication of this edition of the map, the British Admiralty would introduce a new map of the region that appears to have become significantly more common than the one here presented.

Condition Description
Original hand-color in lighthouses. Backed on paper. Some damage and soiling to margins, with the top right corner missing.
British Admiralty Biography

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.