Atwood Museum of the Chatham Historical Society

Nautical Chart Collection of the Chatham Historical Society

This collection consists of nineteenth century nautical charts used by Chatham sea captains on their costal and trans-oceanic voyages. It features several charts produced by George Eldridge and his son, George W. George Eldridge, born in Chatham in 1821, established one of the two most exceptional private chart-producing enterprises in America. While smaller than that of the Blunts, it was more innovative and longer lasting. Many of the charts in the collection have been identified with specific Chatham shipmasters including Captains Gershom Jones, Charles W. Jones, Simeon Taylor, John Taylor, Cyrus Eldredge, and Charles W. Hamilton. Certain of these charts were used aboard sailing and steam ships named: Revere, R. M. Heslin, Sylph, SS Kin Kiang, SS Mississippi, Thordis, and Red Cloud. In the collection are "Blueback" charts published by British firms (Imray, Norrie, Laurie, Chas. Wilson), as well as charts published by the British Admiralty, the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, private Dutch companies, the US Coast Survey and the private firms of Geo. Eldridge, Chas. Copley, and E. & G. W. Blunt. On many of the charts, there are pencil notations by mariners including navigational fixes that plot the courses of specific voyages. All charts have been carefully restored with support from a grant from the Town of Chatham through its Community Preservation Committee. They are kept under archival conditions in a climate-controlled storage area.

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