America West Coast, 1855 corr. to 1865

America West Coast Diego Bay to Cape Mendocino From the United States Coast Surveys 1855 Published at the Admiralty 16th April 1858 Under the Superintendence of Capt. Washington R.N.F.R.S., Hydrographer Corrections May 1863, Sept. 65.
Black and white engraving, two toned
Professionally conserved
Professionally conserved and backed on tissue, flattened, one hole in sheet as found in oval title block, occasional staining in margin and on chart, original bright color at beacons and two tone shading. Overall paper coloring lighter and brighter than indicated in photographs.
Dimensions: 
40.25 × 26.75 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale
Price: 
$3,200.00

    This scarce British Admiralty Chart America's West Coast was prepared from original surveys done in 1855, updated to Sept. 1865 and is finely engraved in black and white, with artful grey tones by E. Radclyffe whose vignettes include numerous views of the coast of California from the southernmost point of Diego Bay northward beyond San Francisco to Cape Mendocino. The varied and dramatic geology and geography of California is presented as it appeared six years after the beginning of the Gold Rush. Details are shown both by the coastline survey and by these numerous shore view vignettes. These detailed vignettes of California ports and coastal views provide harbor profiles to assist navigators at sea to orient themselves to points on shore and they function as independent pictorial views of the varied coastline.  Soundings are given in fathoms. Revolving, fixed and flashing light beacons are smartly indicated in a bright red and yellow. Topography on shore and vegetation are also indicated.

    San Francisco Bay and its entrance are shown in great detail although no buildings are outlined in plan. The British Admiralty survey work for this chart captures California's s coast cities and harbors in very early stages of settlement and Diego Bay is still unsettled as a town. Interestingly, U.S. Navy Yards in San Pablo Bay are indicated and shown in simple plan.

    Point Arena is shown with shore birds aloft. Pt. Reyes, still a wild place, is shown with its headlands dropping to the narrow beach below. The entrance to San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz are shown in a fine two toned engraving. Point Sur is shown, with a long reflection of the promontory in the quiet waves of the Pacific Ocean. To the south, the point of boundary between America and Mexico is also shown as an off shore pictorial view. We see a large masted ship atilt in Catalina Harbour. More than one artist contributed to these scenes. Capt. T. Harvey, R.N. is the artist whose vignette shows the Farallon Lighthouse atop an atoll. Taken all together, the images on this nautical chart of California's mountainous coastal landscape and developing ports provide a dramatic mid-19th century portrait of America's West Coast.

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The Back Room