[LAURIE & WHITTLE]. A New and Enlarged Baltic Pilot, Comprehending a Collection of Surveys and General Charts, from London to St. Petersburg... London: Robert Laurie and James Whittle, 1809.

$ 6,800.00

Folio, (29 1/8 x 12 inches). 4 (of 10 called for) folding engraved maps (separating at folds; a few short tears; some browning, spotting, and offsetting). Contemporary marble boards (generally worn with surface abrasions).

Third edition, first published c. 1790. Includes the important chart of the Gulf of Finland, the only map to have been updated for this edition. “The Baltic Pilot” was first published by Robert Sayer (1725-1794), with an undated title page (though the latest date on any of the charts is 1790). After his failing health forced him to retire in 1792, his former assistants Robert Laurie (c.1755-1836) and James Whittle (d. 1818) took over the firm, and completely revised or re-engraved the charts found in “The Baltic Pilot,” first publishing their version in 1802.

The maps include:

“A New and Correct Chart of the Thames’s Mouth &c. from London Bridge to Oxford Ness, on the Essex and Suffolk Coast” (separating at folds, some offsetting and browning).

“A New Chart of the Coast Between Oxford Ness and Hasbrough wherein are particularly described the Roads of Leostoff and Yarmouth with Hasbrough Gatt” (a bit browned and spotted).

“New Chart of the North Sea; Compiled and Reduced from the Great National & Topographical Surveys of Britain, France, Holland, Germany, and Denmark” (separating at folds, some offsetting, browning, and spotting).

“Chart of the Baltic and Gulf of Finland” (edges frayed, some browning and staining).

“In 1795, the Hydrographical Office was created to collate nautical charts for the use of the Royal Navy. One of its greatest challenges was to provide reliable charts for fleets sent to the Baltic Sea. The geography of this region was largely unknown to British admirals and policy-makers alike, provoking both operational and strategic issues for the naval administration. Faced with economic threats to its sources of shipbuilding resources during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy was ordered into the Baltic on three occasions. On each occasion its operational viability was determined by the degree to which it could navigate the waters of the Baltic safely…In the years immediately after 1795, charts of the Baltic were inaccurate and unreliable. However, repeated incursions into the Baltic during the following 20 years provided an opportunity to gather hydrographical information. British understanding of the Baltic Sea improved dramatically, opening the region to the potency of British naval power…

“The Baltic was never a surveying priority for the British Admiralty during the eighteenth century. Only with the onset of war with Denmark in 1801 did Britain turn to the issue of charting the Baltic Sea with vigour and sustained application. But the charting of the region provided a tangible strategic advantage, limiting accidents and opening the Baltic to the full force of British sea power. The historiography of the Hydrographical Office has played down the achievements of its early years. For all its reactive nature, however, it achieved considerable success in surveying and charting the waters of the Baltic. For the crucial areas in which the navy was to operate, adequate charts were provided, in increasingly great numbers. The Admiralty and Hydrographical Office reacted with speed to disseminate suitable charts, enabling naval operations to be conducted effectively. In many cases surveys were be initiated by the admirals and senior officers of naval stations. That said, the Hydrographical Office operated with effectiveness in improving the charts available to its admirals in the Baltic. It took a view of these precedents, making sure lessons were learned and that information was retained for the purposes of future generations. Advances in hydrographical knowledge fed into the development of British commerce. The progress of the navy and British mercantile strength was, as ever, symbiotic; but this was not immediate, and took time to filter through. For example, the Baltic pilot of 1809 still used the same maps as those from 1790. Only one chart, that of the Gulf of Finland, had been altered, and only as a result of ‘British navigators etc. trading to St Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen’. Indeed, other than its claim to be ‘a new survey’, it was not much different from the earlier incarnation, using the same scale as 1790. But into the nineteenth century, with peacetime facilitating the exchange of printed information, the mercantile fleet benefited from these improved charts” (James Davey, “The advancement of nautical knowledge: the Hydrographical Office, the Royal Navy and the charting of the Baltic Sea, 1795–1815”).

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