Riding the wave


Greenville Collins and Great Britain's Coasting Pilot

Since the first " Waggoner "English - by Fisher , Moxon , Seller , Thornton - were mostly remakes of old master Dutch and French-date content basin, with the increase of shipping accidents in part the increased imprecision of the cards. Moreover, in 1667 the Dutch , went up the Thames, had attacked and decimated the British fleet bombarding the vicinity of London.

It was therefore clear in all its seriousness that they had knowledge of the coastal waters of England than that of the British. The Admiralty and the East India Company is therefore the need for an accurate survey of the British coast from scratch.

Manuscript anonymous and undated but attributed to Greenvile Collins [1693]
mm. 560 x 419, graphic scale in English miles, north to the right. (Taunton, UK Hydrographic Office )

This task was entrusted in 1681 to Greenvile Collins, who began his career in the Navy in 1669, participating in the expedition of Sir John Narborough in the Strait of Magellan and along the Chilean coast, and had later served in the North Sea and Mediterranean. A brilliant career and his extensive experience hydrographic earned him then is the title of "basin of the King" is, in 1681 with a special royal decree, the command of the cutter "Merlin" manageable and therefore likely to significantly under cost in order to discharge that challenging task.

The work demanded little more than a decade and finally, in 1693, was released on Great Britain's Coasting Pilot includes 48 cards of which not less than 25 personally assigned to Collins. Although contemporaries felt quell'atlante very accurate, it had fewer than 21 editions - including a French version in 1757 - and was reprinted in nearly a century.

The British Hydrographic Service contains a valuable collection of papers prior to the founding of the Service, designed and engraved on the basis of the findings produced by naval officers, hydrography necessity during routine naval operations.

For example if they contain some. John Mitchell, dated 1733, is a map of the mouth of the Thames. The cartouche on the left is the dedication "To the Right Hon.ble / Sr. Charles Wager Kn.t / First Lord Commissioner of tea and one of His Maj.sty Admiralty / Hon.ble Most Deprived Council & / This chart of the Entrance of / the River Thames and Medway / and Places Adjacent, together with tea Moored Floating Light at Nore Sand y / for the Safety of Navigation and Direction / by Night, is Most humbly Dedicated by / Rt Hon.ble Sir / Your Most Obliged and most / obedient Serv.t / David Aiery / Surveyed by Capt. John Mitchell / 1733.

England, the Thames estuary . John Mitchell, 1733
Engraving watercolor, mm. Approximately 710 x 500, graphic scale in miles, north down. (Taunton, UK Hydrographic Office )

The card has the ornate style typical of the "Waggoners" with the elaborate pink polychrome, the meticulous portrayal perspective of trees, hills and churches, taken "as the crow flies" and sailing ships at sea. Important element to a point of view is the ship sailing in front of the lantern-dried Nore, just set up the first among similar signaling systems on the English coast. Top right, in a special box is a small view of the mouth of the Medway Sheerness, animated by the movement of the sea and the many sailboats, which is repeated on the first floor of the boat-lantern Nore.

Tobago [1749].
Ms. watercolor mm. Approximately 520 x 330, graphic scale in miles
Long. the meridian of London.
(Taunton, UK Hydrographic Office )

A map of Tobago is anonymous and undated, but the written down that says "On this sunken Rock His Majesty's ship struck Chesterfield HAVING XV Fa.m the Coast before. AD 1748 / 9. The ship was involved in a mutiny in October 1748 while he was at anchor in front of Cape-Coast, the West African coast, and was then carried out by insurgents in Barbados. There, in January the following year, was brought under control by R. Tyrrell who, under the command of the "Speedwell", went to Tobago to avert the danger that the French would retake the island.

On that occasion Tobago was carefully measured in order to be represented on this card that includes two views of the coast up "The NE Prospect When the Rocks of the Island of St Giles Bear S by W 3 Leagues" and below " Thus the Island Appears When It bears W by S 5 or 6 Leagues.

The maps are reproduced in Coste del Mondo nella cartografia europea: 1500-1900 , (179 p., about 300 images), by Priuli & Verlucca, publishers, Ivrea, 2000.)