By: James Imray & Son
Date: 1887 (Published) London
Dimensions: 42.5 x 99 inches (107.95 x 251.46 cm)
This fascinating sea chart, an original ‘blue back’ by James Imray, was an important navigational tool for navigators in the 19th century. The chart is encyclopedic in scope and covers in detail the entire coastal area of the Mediterranean, from the Atlantic side of Gibraltar northward to include a bit of Portugal and southward to include the northwestern and northern coastlines of Morocco. From the western end it extends to the far eastern end of the sea. In the northeast it extends so far as to include both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and their respective coastlines in full.
This extraordinarily fascinating sea chart, an original ‘blue back’ by James Imray, was published by his sons, as they had carried on the family business following his death. By the time this chart was published, Imray’s firm had been providing reliable sea charts for decades. Though this map was published toward the end of the firm’s long rule of the industry, it obviously was still highly regarded and in use as one of the most authoritative charts available, and presents with a number of hand-drawn navigational routes in pencil and numerous manuscript markers added in yellow and red ink signifying important cities, ports and harbors, etc. The chart includes 4 insets depicting various strategic bays, straits, ports, channels and gulfs.
The vast majority of the British merchant fleet, such as wool clippers, gold rush ships, and copper and nitrate clippers used Imray’s charts despite the availability of Admiralty maps. He published charts for other particular trades as well, such as ‘Rice Ports of India’ and ‘Cotton Ports of Georgia’. The Imray maps were preferred due to their having retained the traditional format of a small-scale general chart, often published with large-scale insets of harbours. Although Imray’s blue backs were more expensive than Admiralty charts, fewer of them were needed because for many voyages the charts provided all the information necessary to navigate a course. Indeed, his charts were so widely used that his name became synonymous with the term ‘blue back’, and many navigators would use only Imray charts.
Condition: This chart is in C+ condition. A tear which enters the image along the bottom of the chart has been repaired with archival material on the verso as have a number of smaller separations around the edges of the chart. There is chipping in places and the top edge has been trimmed resulting in partial loss of the top border.
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