Gold Rush-era chart of California by James Imray

CHART of the COAST OF CALIFORNIA from SAN BLAS TO SAN FRANCISCO Drawn chiefly from the Spanish Surveys, the Charts of Vancouver &c. the whole much improved by recent observations made by English & French Naval Officers. London: James Imray, Chart and Nautical Book Publisher, 102 Minories, 1849.
Lithographic blueback chart on 2 sheets joined, 26 ½”h x 56”w plus margins, uncolored. Recently re-backed with blue chart paper and lined with new selvage.

A wonderfully detailed chart of the California coastline by James Imray, “probably the best chart of the West Coast available in 1849.” (Heckrotte)

The chart depicts the coast from the Mexican harbor of San Blas north to Cape Mendocino. Six insets depict the entrance to and harbor of San Francisco, Monterey Bay, the coast around Guaymas, Magdalen Bay and Mazatlan. At lower center are recognition views of the entrance to Guaymas and Magdalen and Monterey Bays.

This was published by James Imray (1803-70), at the time the world’s leading commercial publisher of navigation charts.  It was the eighth of a set of eight charts, which together provided coverage of the American coast from Colombia to northern California.  It was produced from various European sources, as the United States had only taken possession of California the year before and thus had not charted its coast (The Wilkes Expedition had made surveys of the Oregon coast, but did not extend farther south into areas that had been part of Mexico.)

This is among the much sought-after “49er” maps, those which would have been used by the first wave of ambitious prospectors and opportunists who raced to California shortly after the news of the discovery of gold in January of 1848 reached the East Coast and England.  While this map does not delineate the Gold Regions, it does show the Sacramento River outlet into San Pablo Bay, the water route which many fortune-seekers followed to the gold fields. This chart would thus have been of the utmost value to vessels making the long voyage to California during the Gold Rush.

OCLC lists editions of 1849, -51, -53 and -54, including only 4 examples of this 1849 edition.

Rarity and references
OCLC 25155637 (New York Public, UC Berkeley and Yale) and 912594844 (UC Santa Cruz). PBA Galleries, The Heckrotte Collection, Part II (12/03/2015), lot 172 (another copy).


Mended cracks and tears, with minor losses reinstated in facsimile. Withal, clean and eminently displayable.