Seven-Foot Long Blueback of the Gulf of Mexico
Showing the Entire Texas Coast in Detail

Surveyed by Commodore Moore, Founder of the Texas Navy

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394. [MAP: BLUEBACK]. BLUNT, E[dmund] & G[eorge] W[illiam]. Chart of the Gulf of Mexico, West Indies, and Spanish Main. E. & G.W. Blunt, 179 Water Street, New York. Entered According to Act of Congress, in the Year 1845, by E & G.W. Blunt in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York. 1845. Additions to 1852. Note, The French, Spanish, English Admiralty, & U.S. Government Surveys, up to this date, are included in this Chart. [at far left near inset of Tampico] The Survey of the Coast of Texas is by Comr. E.W. Moore, T.N. [insets, from upper right and clockwise] [1] A Geometrical Plan of the Principal Harbour [i.e. San Juan] in the Island of Porto Rico Surveyed in 1794 by Don Cosme de Churruca, Captain in the Spanish Navy. W. Hooker, Sc. [2] Harbour of Matanzas [Cuba]. W. Hooker, Sc. [3] Turks Islands Anchorage Surveyed by Captn. R.N. Owen. 1830. [4] Rum Key Surveyed in H.M.S. Blossom. [5] Ragged Islands Anchorage [Bahamas] Surveyed by Commander R. Owen. 1834. [6] Entrance to the Harbour of Havanna W. Hooker, Sc. [7] St. Martin’s Harbour [i.e. Philipsburg, Saint Martin] surveyd. by Capt. E. Barnet, R.N. 1847. [8] Bay of Mayaguez, Porto Rico Surveyed by Andrew Scott. 1846. E & G.W. Blunt, Burling Slip, N. York. [9] Harbour of St. Thomas, [i.e. Charlotte Amalie, V.I.] by Captain L.I. Rhode, Harbour Master. 1822. [10] Laguna de Terminos Surveyed by Robert Hume. Hooker. 1841. [11] Atchafalaya and Bayou Teche. by J.D. Boylan. 1841. [12] The Harbour of Tampico from Actual Survey. 1833. New York, [1852 or after]. Engraved blueback chart mounted on customary heavy blue paper, with original tan cloth selvages, approximately 38-1/4 x 84-1/2 inches. Rolled, as used (with resultant crinkling and creasing with a few slight tears), a few modern reinforcements on verso, overall a very good copy of a genre of map that saw much usage and was often destroyed. Contemporary ink label on verso (West Indies), chipped with loss of a few letters. A rare survival of an American blueback. This type of chart was available for purchase in sheets of the geographic region to be sailed, and there is no exact equivalent to it in OCLC.

     The present map is an example of a very interesting, colorful, and rare type of sailing chart that was in use for decades. The name comes from the sturdy blue paper backing to make sailing charts more durable during voyages. There are two reasons the blueback charts are ephemeral. They received hard use at sea, and as soon as new discoveries were made, the old charts were dangerous to keep on hand. This huge map shows the entirety of the Texas coast and the Gulf Mexico from Florida to to Yucatán. At lower left is a printed notation mentioning Commodore Matthew C. Perry: Note. The Coast of Mexico from Cape Roxo, to Campeche, is from Surveys of Officers of the U.S. Navy, by Direction of Come. M.C. Perry, 1848. This blueback sailing chart has two interesting Texas connections. As noted, at upper left is the reference to Commodore E.W. Moore of the Texas Navy, and some of the insets are the work of W. Hooker, who engraved the Texas maps that accompany the two editions of Mary Austin Holley’s famous book on Texas, and Fiske’s A Visit to Texas. Streeter in his entry (1408) for William Blunt’s North Coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from St. Marks to Galveston (1842) mentions the present chart and describes it as “a huge affair.”

     Commodore Edwin Ward Moore (1810-1865), the Father of the Texas Navy, sailed off the Mexican coast in 1840-1841 to hasten peace negotiations between Texas and Mexico. On collapse of the negotiations, he swept the Mexican ships off the Gulf of Mexico, made a de facto alliance with the Yucatán rebels, and captured the town of Tabasco. He then surveyed the Texas coast and made a chart, which was used in the present map.

     Dennis Bryant, “Edmund M. Blunt: Forgotten Pioneer of Nautical Charting and Publishing in the United States” in Maritime Musings, January 2010:

Edmund March Blunt (1770-1862) was one of America’s first hydrographers. He published some of the first nautical books and charts in the United States. The American Coast Pilot was first printed in 1796. It went through twenty-one editions before being taken over by the federal government in 1867. The American Coast Pilot provided sailing directions from Passamaquoddy, Maine, to the Strait of Florida. It included soundings and bearings of the lighthouses and beacons (such as there were) from rocks, shoals, ledges, etc. The volume also had courses and distances between numerous locations, settings of the currents, and tide tables. The book was extremely popular with ship owners and masters and lives on today as the Coast Pilot published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 1799, he retained Nathaniel Bowditch to update the British publication The New Practical Navigator and adapt it to American needs. The third edition, published in 1802, had been significantly altered from the original and was renamed as the American Practical Navigator. We know it now simply as Bowditch. Few people today are aware that the originator of both publications—the Coast Pilot and Bowditch—was Edmund Blunt. He also compiled some of the first detailed surveys of major US east coast ports, from Boston to Charleston. The standards he established in 1796 for accuracy and thoroughness continue today as a worthy legacy to a major, but largely forgotten, figure in American nautical history.


Sold. Hammer: $3,000.00; Price Realized: $3,675.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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