TLTHE LATEST/20Jul14

/Visualisation

Car Boot Rescue: 1950s Nautical Pilot Charts

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A prize car boot sale find – some vintage nautical Pilot Charts from the 1950s with one proud and loving new owner.

These vintage charts are the reason why I love a good car boot. A brilliant combination of maps and data visualisation, these historic charts are comfortably my best car boot find to date.

The charts are packed with a staggering amount of information, much of it averaged for the month of issue: Prevailing winds, Ocean Currents, Storm Tracks, Magnetic Variation, Sailing Routes, Ice Limits, Gale and Fog reports and more.

If that wasn’t enough to keep you busy, the reverse side of each chart seems to feature a different ‘bonus’ study into other related weather phenomenon. Mine include: The Total Eclipse of June 30th 1954 and ‘Tropical Cyclones Of the World’. And all that for 30 cents.

It seems the charts were compiled and issued monthly by the US Navy Hydrographic Office. I haven’t hadn’t chance to delve very far into their history, but the chart’s state that they are ‘Founded upon the researches made in the early part of the nineteenth century by Matthew Fontaine Maury, while serving as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.’

The chart footnote reads as follows: Prepared from data furnished by the Hydrographic Office, Navy department, and by the Weather Bureau, Department of Commerce, and published by the Hydrographic Office under the authority of the secretary of the navy, Washington D.C. (Legislative Act, June 17, 1910).

Having worked with wind data quite a bit in an aerodynamic capacity, I was an instant fan of the wind roses, but the favourite has to be the ‘Extreme Limit of Icebergs’ lines.

I don’t know where these lines current lie, but was pretty surprised to see one reaching within 150 miles of Buenos Aires, back in 1950.

It seems a bit sad that something of such quality, had been demeaned, by time, to the grass of a Lincoln field. I was happy to jump to the rescue. A new loving custodian of these brilliant pieces of nautical charting history.

I picked up the 4 A0 charts, which range from 1947-1954, from Hemswell Car Boot, for a mere ¬£7. A steal.¬†Aside from putting one on the wall, I’ve got a couple of ideas to ponder for the others. Will keep you posted with any movements.