Spectacular chart of maritime flags

Published by Charles Copley, Hydrogapher / Sold by E. & G.W. Blunt, THE MARITIME FLAGS OF ALL NATIONS. New York, 1847/1851 .
Engraving, 26 ½"h x 41"w plus margins, very fine original hand color. Mounted on linen. Verso bears pasted-on label of Hagger & Brother of Baltimore.

By the 19th century, books and broadsides providing mariners with a ready reference to the hundreds of flags they might encounter at sea were an established genre. This example by Copley is however most unusual for its size, very fine coloring and extreme rarity.

The chart includes 187 smaller flags and pennants arranged in 11 rows, with larger flags of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France in the corners. American merchant and naval flags are well represented, as are those of the major European powers, but one also finds those of newly-ascendant of Latin America as well as Asian fleets such as those China, Japan and Burma. All are colored with great care using a palette of blue, buff, green, red, rose and yellow. The coloring on the flag of the “Emperor of Austria,” “Spanish Standard,” “Tuscany Man of War,” “Sardinian Standard,” and “Naples War and Merchant” in particular stand out for their astonishing attention to detail.

Charles Copley and E. & G.W. Blunt
Charles Copley was an engraver and publisher of nautical charts active in New York from the early 1840s well into the 1870s. The New York City-based firm of Blunt was the first to compete with English firms for primacy in the American market. Established by Edmund March Blunt (1770-1862), the firm published and compiled navigational books, charts and other aids. Blunt retired in 1826 or 1827 and passed management of the firm on to his sons Edmund and George William, who by 1828 were operating as “E. & G.W. Blunt.” The firm continued for many years, eventually being passed to a third generation of management before closing in 1872.

The broadside bears a copyright date of 1847, but we find no reference to any known examples of that or the present 1851 edition. OCLC #868710954 lists only a single example of an 1855 edition with 186 flags, held by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Guthorn’s United States Coastal Charts provides helpful biographies of the Blunts (pp. 9-10) and Copley (p. 11).


Some discoloration toward left and right, else excellent