Rare Coast Survey chart of Nantucket Harbor

E. Lester Jones, Superintendent, NANTUCKET HARBOR MASSACHUSETTS. Washington, D.C., Dec. 1911, reissued Aug. 1916 .
Electrotype on heavy chart paper, 30"h x 25 ¼"w plus margins, uncolored

A lovely, hugely informative, and surprisingly rare chart of Nantucket Harbor, in a rarely-found issue on heavy chart paper.

The chart is a trove of data, including detailed soundings; navigational aids and hazards; and the line of the main channel into the harbor. Also provided is detailed topographical and cartographical information on the adjacent coast, including a minutely-detailed plan of the Town of Nantucket.

This impression was printed on heavy paper and clearly intended as a working chart, though its near-pristine condition, suggests it never made it to sea. Most examples of this and other Coast Survey charts that appear on the market were printed on very thin stock, folded, and trimmed for binding into government documents.

As government publications, most Coast Survey charts may be found with some frequency. This chart of Nantucket Harbor is an exception, as we find no record of it having appeared on the market and but three examples (of later editions) in OCLC.

The U.S. Coast Survey
The Office of the Coast Survey is the oldest scientific organization in the Federal Government. It dates to 1807, when President Jefferson established it for the purpose of fostering maritime commerce. The website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers this tribute:

“These men and women (the Coast Survey hired women professionals as early as 1845) helped push back the limits of astronomic measures, designed new and more accurate observational instruments for sea and land surveying, developed new techniques for the mathematical analysis of the mountains of data obtained by the field parties, and further refined techniques of error analysis and mitigation. It was the Coast Survey that led American science away from the older descriptive methods to the modern methods of statistical analysis and the prediction of future states of natural phenomena based on mathematical modeling. Virtually all branches of science, including the social and biological sciences, have adapted similar methodologies and similar techniques in their quest for scientific truth. But, in the United States, it should be remembered that it was the Coast Survey that first trod that path.”

Each Coast Survey chart represented an immense undertaking. For example, the Coast Survey first began work in Nantucket Harbor in the 1840s, with its first chart of the area appearing in or around 1848. The chart offered here therefore represents the combined efforts of literally hundreds of Coast Survey personnel over more than six decades, including separate parties focusing on triangulation, terrestrial topography and hydrography as well as draughtsmen, engravers and printers.

Not in Crosby, Nantucket in Print, p. 224. OCLC lists nothing for this chart prior to two examples of an edition corrected to 1923 and another corrected to 1930.


A few minor spots and minor soiling, purple date stamp in lower margin, but very good or better