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Stock# 86673

The First Irish-Published Sea Pilot.

Including 9 Sea Charts Focused on Ireland.

With Contemporary Manuscript Track Sketch for an American Voyage From Lisbon To Philadelphia

Possibly the only surviving example of the 1753 edition of George Grierson's English Pilot, Part I . . . Southern Navigation . . . , published in Dublin in 1753.

Grierson's Pilot was the first ever published Irish Sea Atlas.  The work was intended to aid Irish and other navigators on sea voyages from Ireland, England, and the Low Countries to Spain, Portugal, the Northwest Coast of Africa, and contiguous islands of the Western Atlantic, including the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores.  Of the 29 charts, 9, including 7 regional charts, focus on Irish waters.

The present well-used example includes several different annotations on various maps, most notably a track describing part of a voyage from Lisbon to Philadelphia and a page of notes and profile views describing an approach to the Azores (Western Isles chart), along with notes and profile views on the back of one of the Irish charts.

It is also noteworthy that several of the charts include early outline color, which is highly unusual for this type of pilot.

The note reflecting a (likely illegal trading) voyage between Lisbon and Philadelphia reflects one of the lesser-known trading partners of the American colonies.  Despite British restrictions on trade, many ships traveled from Lisbon to undisclosed locations in the West Indies, where they then turned north to Philadelphia as their final port of call before returning to Lisbon, likely trading in slaves, illicit goods and wares, or moving legal goods (wheat, flour, staves, etc.) from ship to ship to avoid British customs.

George Grierson (1680-1753) published this rare sea atlas in Dublin, with the plates engraved by James Barlow. This exceptionally rare Dublin edition is a monument of Irish printing, being one of the first sea atlas printed in Ireland and part of an ambitious project launched by the leading Irish publisher of the day.  Over the final decades of Grierson's publishing career, Grierson began publishing maps and sea charts, beginning in 1730, with his The English Pilot. Part I ... Southern Navigation, which included 24 or 25 charts (2 known examples).  The Southern Navigation re-issued in 1753, (the present example) with several additional charts, plus several replacements, for a total of 27 charts and 2 half-page charts.

From 1732 onward, he published a world atlas, an atlas of Ireland and several sea atlases, all of which are incredibly rare.  His son Boulton continued publishing his work after George's death in 1753. For a more complete biographical description of Grierson, see below.

List of Charts and Manuscript Annotations

  1. A Chart of the Sea Coast from England to the Streights . . . With an inset of the Harbour of Cadiz
  2. A Draught of the Sands Shoals Buoys, Beacons & Sea Marks Upon the Coast of England From the South Foreland to Orford ness. With insets of The River of Thames and another
  3. A Chart of the North Sea
  4. A New and Correct Chart of the Sea Coast of England, Scotland & Ireland
  5. A New Chart of The Sea Coast of Scotland with the Islands thereof
  6. A Large Chart Describing the Sands Shoales Depth of Water and Anchorage on the East Coast of Scotland als North Britain by Iohn Marr
  7. A Description of the Coast of Flanders From the Island of Walcheren to Calice
  8. A Chart of the Seacoasts of England Flanders & Holland Shewing all the Sands, Shoars, Rocks and Dangers . . . 
  9. A Chart of the Sea-Coast Zealand. From Walcheren to the Maes
  10. A Map of Scilly Islands [heavily dampstained and several large tears]
  11. A Correct Chart of the Channell between England & France . . . Observ'd by D.r Ed. Halley
  12. The Haven of St. Malo (half sheet, on page 37)
  13. A New and Exact Draught of the Channell of Bristoll . . . By Capt. Iohn Williams
    • Verso of this map with an 18th century manuscript track diagram: "From Lisbon towards Philadelphia"
  14. A Chart of the Coasts of Ireland and Part of England
  15. A New Chart Being and Actual Survey of the Harbours of Rineshark and Waterford to the Confluence of the Rives Sure and Barrow and Sea Coast to them Adjacent By Wm.Doyle Hydrographer
  16. The Channel and City of Dublin
  17. A Chart of the Seacoasts of Ireland From Dublin to London Derry
  18. A Chart of the Northwest Coast of Ireland from Lough Swilly to Slyne Head
  19. A Chart of the Bay of Galloway and River Shannon. . . .
    • Verso of this map with an 18th-century manuscript coastal profile of Fastnet Rock, noting "White cliffs of broken / Small Sandy Bay / Bluffpoint."
  20. The South West Coast of Ireland from Dungarvan to the River Shannon
  21. The Harbour of Corke
  22. The Sea Coast of France From Ushent to Olone
  23. The Sea Coasts of France From Olone to Cape Machiacaca in Biscay . . . 
  24. A Chart of the Sea Coast Biscay and Gallicia . . . 
  25. A Chart of the Coat of Portugal and Part of Spain from Cape Finiseter to the Straits of Gibralter
  26. A Map of the River Taie to Lisbon  . . . (half sheet, on page 84)
  27. A Chart of the Coast of Barbaria with the Western, Canaria, & Cape De Verd Isles By Saml. Thornton . . . 
  28. The Western Islands
    • With 18th-century manuscript coastal profile in upper margin relating to Sao Miguel Island: "Thus appeareth the Island of St. Michaels bearing W. 6 Leagues." And further inscription concerning Walvis: "In the description of these Islands Walvis is said to Lie..."
  29. A Chart of the Islands of Cape Verd . . . 


Grierson's Southern Navigation is extremely rare. The present example appears to be the only known surviving example of the 1753 edition, with only 2 examples of the 1730 and 1 example of the 1766 recorded by bibliographers.

No examples of any edition of George Grierson's Southern Navigation have appeared at auction, as reported by RBH. 

The 1730 and 1753 are unlisted in OCLC.  OCLC notes only an example of the posthumous Boulton Grierson 1766 edition of Grierson's Southern Navigation at the Newberry Library, issued by Boulton after his father died in 1753.

George Grierson's cartographic output was both remarkable and, today, remarkably rare.  For example, the British Museum's catalog of maps and atlases as of 1884 listed only one known work by Grierson's son Boulton, who re-issued the English Pilot Fourth Book in 1767.  In R.S.J. Clarke's essay on Early Printed Charts of Irish Waters, Clarke noted only Grierson's publication of a map of Cork Harbor in 1750.  

  • Ashley Baynton Williams catalogs 2 examples of the 1730: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, #24334 (24 charts). Private Collection (25 charts).
  • The National Maritime Museum references a 1749 edition of "The English Pilot" with 22 charts, which appears to be a different book. 
  • The Roger Baskes collection notes a 1766 edition of the Southern Navigation
Condition Description
Folio. Contemporary calf, with blindstamped diamond design on upper and lower boards. Spine perished, leather backstrip mostly gone, with exposed gatherings, but book blook held solidly intact by cords. Leather on covers heavily worn, with losses to upper fore-edge corner of front cover, exposing raw board. Title page and several preliminary leaves with dampstaining and with upper edges rather rough and tattered. Horizontal tear to title page (printing not affected). Mid-20th century ink inscription and small printed ownership label to title page. Scattered soiling and dampstaining throughout, affecting most of the maps. Some of the maps with tears. 100 pages plus 29 maps (listed below), including two half-sheet copperplate plates in the text ("The Haven of St. Malo" on page 37; "A Map of the River Taie to Lisbon" on page 84). Numerous wood engravings in the text (coastal profiles). Armorial vignette on title page.
Clarke, Early Printed Charts of Irish Waters, Proceedings and Report of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society p. 27 (1983).
Tooley, Maps and Map-Makers, page 61.
George Grierson Biography

George Grierson (c.1678 - 1753) was one of the most important publishers, editors and mapmakers in 18th Century Ireland. Born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, he immigrated to Ireland as a young man and in 1703 founded a printing house in Dublin at "The Sign of the Two Bibles" on Essex Street.

Dublin was then one of the most important cities in the British Empire, being a bustling port and a financial and services center. However, it had a relatively underdeveloped publishing sector. Up to this point, printing had been hampered by ongoing political instability throughout the 17th Century, with a relatively strict regime of official censorship and the overwhelming market dominance of London printers. Especially with respect to cartographic printing, Dublin's footprint was minuscule, with even most surveys of Ireland being printed in England. Grierson boldly stepped into the void and more than any other figure transformed Dublin into a major printing hub.

Much misinformation has been written about Grierson. Indeed, from reading much of the material written in catalogs and on the internet, one gains the erroneous impression that he was an intellectual property "pirate" and some sort of disreputable fly-by-night journeyman printer. In reality, he was the leading publisher in Ireland, a highly respected member of the Dublin upper sets, as well as innovative and a risk-taking entrepreneur. While he printed works originated by others, he always did this within copyright laws and always with attribution. In this sense, he was no different than any mapmaker who issued their own edition of a map previously issued (a common and well-accepted norm).

Grierson started out printing Bibles and other religious texts but eventually moved into printing classics and literature. He produced important editions of Milton's Paradise Lost and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. His series of affordable pocket-sized books, Grierson's Classics, were bestsellers of the era.

At one point in the 1720s, he hired Constantia Crawley (1705-32), a young and exceptionally brilliant classical scholar and poet. They were married in 1727 and the charismatic Constantia did much to improve the public reception of the hardworking but comparatively taciturn Scotsman. Following Constantia's untimely death, Grierson solidified his dominance of Irish publishing upon marrying Jane Blow, the daughter of James Blow, Belfast's leading printer.

In 1729, Grierson was appointed to become the "King's Printer" for Ireland, a highly lucrative and honorific post, in which capacity he was responsible for printing all parliamentary and government papers.

His first major foray into cartography was his publication of the first Irish edition of Sir William Petty's atlas of Ireland (1732), originally issued in London in 1685.

Following the death of Herman Moll, in 1732, Grierson set about producing Irish editions of Moll's maps which were no longer under copyright.

As noted by Dennis Reinhartz in The Cartographer and the Literati - Herman Moll and his Intellectual Circle:

"…two editions of [Moll's Large Atlas] The World Described... were done by the Dublin publisher George Grierson... all of the maps in the Irish editions were completely re-engraved, even to the point of understandably having been rededicated to contemporary Irish notables. The Grierson atlas had new and/or changed cartouches, dedications, details, and comments. It also showed obvious erasers and additions, and some of the maps were updated."

Many of these maps (such as the present map) were exceedingly large and preparing the copper-plates was a major technical undertaking never before attempted in Ireland. This explains why some of Grierson's editions may appear to be somewhat crude in style compared to the London editions. Far from being due to carelessness, these imperfections are due to the growing-pains of attempting something bold and ambitious in a new setting.

While his editions of Moll's maps were likely also issued separately, Grierson issued complete editions of Moll's atlas, The World Described. Ashley Baynton-Williams, the foremost authority on maps published in the British Isles, reports that only two examples of the Grierson edition of The World Described are recorded. One example is to be found in the collections of the Royal Geographic Society (London) and the other at the Library of Trinity College (Dublin), although it is not known if these atlases are complete.

Grierson followed this up with his own edition of Mount & Page's sea atlas, The English Pilot (1749), being the first sea atlas printed in Ireland.

Grierson succeeded in greatly expanding the ambitions and technical capabilities of the printing industry in Ireland, which in turn assisted the flourishing of Irish writers and artists in the decades to come. George Grierson died in 1753 and was succeeded in the business by his son Boulter Grierson, who notably reissued his father's edition of The English Pilot in 1767. The Grierson firm continued to operate for the next three generations.