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The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.  

Place/Date:
London / 1844 (additions to 1858)
Size:
37.5 x 25 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
57792
Place/Date:
London / 1855
Size:
24 x 30 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
58324
Place/Date:
London / 1859
Size:
25 x 38 inches
Condition:
Good
Stock#:
61594
Place/Date:
London / 1910
Size:
42 x 25 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
38925
Place/Date:
London / 1843 (1857)
Size:
36 x 24 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
61663
Place/Date:
London / 1853
Size:
19.5 x 25.5 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
43365
Place/Date:
London / 1840 (1858)
Size:
18 x 24 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
61653
Place/Date:
London / 1908 (1949)
Size:
45 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
55579

Archived

Place/Date:
London / 1854
Size:
36 x 24.5 inches
Condition:
VG+
Stock#:
40776
Place/Date:
London / 1927
Size:
40 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
21169
Place/Date:
London / 1847 (1850)
Size:
32 x 24 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
26339
Place/Date:
/ 1888 1936
Size:
39 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG+
Stock#:
55329
Place/Date:
London / 1859
Size:
25 x 19 inches each
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
30460
Place/Date:
London / 1853 (1872)
Size:
25 x 19 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
34079mb
Place/Date:
London / 1844
Size:
37.5 x 25 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
34552
Place/Date:
London / 1866 (1881)
Size:
24.5 x 38 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
61018
Place/Date:
Washington / 1861
Size:
38.5 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
0005jh
Place/Date:
London / 1866 (1882)
Size:
40 x 27 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
33030
Place/Date:
London / 1855 (1874 ca)
Size:
25 x 31 inches
Condition:
VG+
Stock#:
55031
Place/Date:
London / 1947
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
23098
Place/Date:
London / 1946
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
21170
Place/Date:
London / 1946
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
23099
Place/Date:
London / 1946
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
21327
Place/Date:
London / 1946
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
21326
Place/Date:
London / 1887 (1951)
Size:
26 x 39 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
55637
Place/Date:
London / 1863
Size:
25 x 38 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
35003
Place/Date:
London / 1867
Size:
37.5 x 24.5 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
35029
Place/Date:
London / 1867
Size:
37.5 x 24.5 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
41456dc
Place/Date:
London / 1876
Size:
38 x 26 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
20682
Place/Date:
London / 1931
Size:
40 x 28 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
36107
Place/Date:
London / 1865
Size:
38.5 x 25.5 inches
Condition:
VG
Stock#:
43809