Kaart over Kattegattet.

Kaart over Kattegattet.


Danish Nautical Charts Archives

Published 1820, Copenhagen

Size: 22" X 34.5"

Condition: Good. Overall toning and some water stains to right side.

A very rare nautical chart of the Kattegat, an area between Denmark and Sweden where the Baltic Sea drains into before ending into the North Sea.  This example is most likely the first state with a later one being issued in 1829.  This state, unlike the latter, has a notation below the cartouche that explains the lighting schedules of different lighthouse that are shown on the chart with red colour.
Other than the ubiquitous rhumb lines and soundings helping navigators sail this treacherous body of water, the chart is also adorned with a beautiful cartouche that includes wartime figures such as a mermaid and a sea god.  
As with most navigational charts, it should be noted that they are, in general, rare because  the nature of the wear and tear associated with 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.  For example, manuscript notations and markings can  can often be found, as is the case with this particular chart, that indicates routes being sailed or additional markers to help in navigating.  The markings seem to go back as far back as August 8th 1829.
However, it should pointed out that unlike the British admiralty charts, which began to be sold to the public in 1821 by the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty, and which had a reputation for greater accuracy, charts such as this example, were often the preferred choice of the important and growing merchant fleet of different countries. It has been argued that the continued demand for these charts resulted in large part because of their focus on specific, and well travelled routes, as opposed to the a 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, nautical charts 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 such as the ornate script used for cartouches, and the overall look and feel of the chart itself. 
This chart is rare with only a single other example, held at the Biblioteck Denmark, being known.