John William Norie map, A Chart of the British Channel...

John William Norie map, A Chart of the British Channel...



Published 1838, London

Size: 37.5" X 73"

Condition: Good. Soiling. Blank on Verso.


A rare and majestic nautical blueback chart by the renown firm of J.W. Norie & Co. of the British Channel from the observations of Admiral Sir John Knights and other documents.  The chart depicts parts of Ireland and western Britain in St. George’s Channel all the way to the East coast of Suffolk and the North Sea.  Parts of Northern France are also depicted.  Adorning this chart are nine inset charts and multiple coastal views to aid navigation.  The insets cover Mounts Bay, parts of Cornwall,  Spithead, Portland, Newhaven, Isle of Sheppey, Exmouth Bar, Scilly Isles and Dartmouth Harbour.  Depth soundings and numerous notations are also included to aid navigations.

It should be noted that bluebacks are rare in general, but especially those that were in actual use, due to the nature of the wear and tear of working nautical documents.  However, when they do survive the vagaries of time, they often offer an interesting view into the past where nautical information was still a work in progress. 

However, it should pointed out that unlike the admiralty charts, which began to be sold to the public in 1821by the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty, and which had a reputation for greater accuracy, the privately sold bluebacks, were the preferred choice of the important and growing merchant fleet. It has been argued that the continued demand for the bluebacks resulted in large part because of their focus on specific, and well travelled routes, as opposed to the Navy’s need for greater accuracy in more distant and obscure shores.  Furthermore, the heavier inks applied, and the use of the Mercator’s projection with the occasional rhumb line, made for an easier reading by a less demanding merchant fleet for accuracy, but well entrenched in their historical ways and preferences.  
As such, bluebacks continue to be sought after by collectors because of their ability to convey a past where a sailors experience was as important as the chart itself. Trade routes were often well trotted such that charts could forgo a certain amount of accuracy in exchange for the familiar components of charts from the past such as the ornate script used for cartouches, and the overall look and feel of the chart itself. 

The chart is owned jointly by Geographicus and Vetus Carta Maps.