Laurie’s 1857 chart of the South Atlantic Ocean


Isaac Purdy. “Laurie’s Reduced Chart of the Ethiopic or Southern Atlantic Ocean.” London: R.H. Laurie, 8 January 1857. Separately issued “blueback” chart, backed on blue paper and rolled. 36 3/4 x 48 1/2. Engraving. With considerable staining, water stains and repaired tears. Back with old patches. Considerable manuscript navigation notes. Still intact. A good example of a working chart.

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Having taken over his father’s partnership in the renowned firm of Laurie & Whittle, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858) eventually became the sole proprietor of the mapmaking firm after the death of James Whittle in 1818. With the help of John Purdy, Alexander Findlay, and Alexander George Findlay, Laurie began to specialize in the production of nautical publications and charts. Drawing on his firm’s long experience, Laurie produced maps that were exceptional for their crisp, clear detail as evidenced even in the superior calligraphy of the title cartouche.  Such was his success that his firm became the “Chartseller to the Admiraly.”

This is Laurie’s fine map of the southern Atlantic Ocean, particularly concerned with the navigation around the Cape of Good Hope and Tierra del Fuego, so it shows the routes used to round these southern points. The entire coastline of southern South America is shown, as the western coast of southern Africa and up the east coast as far as the River St. John. Included are a number of detailed inset maps, including one of Tierra del Fuego and one of the Cape Good Hope and its bays as far as Capetown.