The 6th time period saw continuing adoption of the standard introduced during
the previous period. NY40 1926 was exactly the same as NY40 1917; it had already been
converted. SF40 1926 had nearly the same format, the only difference being the addition
of the State just after the main title:
[seal of the Department of Commerce], UNITED STATES – WEST COAST, SAN FRANCISCO ENTRANCE,
CALIFORNIA, Scale 1/40000, SOUNDINGS IN FEET, AT MEAN LOWER LOW WATER
MH400 1922 had not changed from 1916.
The main difference between GJF200 1895 and GJF200 1922 is the addition of
the additional geographic identifiers “UNITED STATES – WEST COAST” between the
seal and the main title, and “WASHINGTON” between the main title and the scale. The
seal is updated, and the unit of measurement and sounding datum for depths were added.
One unique aspect of the title is what looks like a typo, but which is actually a
representation of Mt. Moriarty, in between “DE” and “FUCA”:
[seal of the Department of Commerce], UNITED STATES – WEST COAST, GEORGIA STRAIGHT AND
STRAIGHT OF JUAN DE[Mt. Moriarty]FUCA, WASHINGTON, Scale 1/200000, SOUNDINGS IN FATHOMS,
AT MEAN LOWER LOW WATER
This is the only edition of the chart to have the title placed around this mountain.
E1200 1927 lost the “
” note below the seal of the U.S.
C&GS on the 1900 edition:
[seal of the Commerce Department], ATLANTIC COAST, CAPE SABLE TO CAPE HATTERAS, (For offshore
navigation only), SOUNDINGS IN FATHOMS
The note about projection had also been moved out of the title area. And the word “ALL”
was removed from the statement about unit of depth measurements.
The seventh time period saw a change in the title format: the movement of the
State from below the main title to above (see GJF200 1933). It also introduced an
inconsistency in the font used for the phrase “
FOR OFFSHORE NAVIGATION ONLY
” on one chart.
E1200 1938 is the only edition of any chart to have this phrase in all capital letters,
Roman face. It also did not have parentheses around it on this edition. In nearly every
other instance this statement was in sentence case, italic face, with parentheses.
In the eighth time period, NY40 had no format changes from the prior, showing
how the format used had become standard. The only visible difference between NY40
1944 and NY40 1936 is a different dash in the phrase
“UNITED STATES – EAST COAST”.
thicker and placed slightly lower in the later edition.
The two editions of SF40 have several differences.
[seal of the Commerce Department], UNITED STATES – WEST COAST, CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO
ENTRANCE, Scale 1/40 000, (Polyconic Projection), SOUNDINGS IN FEET, AT MEAN LOWER LOW WATER
[seal of the Commerce Department], UNITED STATES – WEST COAST, CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO
ENTRANCE, Polyconic Projection, Scale 1:40,000
The order of the notes about scale and projection are reversed, and in the latter edition,
both are found to the right rather than centered with the rest of the title.
For MH400, the only difference between the two editions in this time period is a
different dash, like SF40. MH400 1951 has a shorter and thicker dash than does MH400
GJF200 1941/48 had no differences from 1933.
E1200 1943’s only difference from 1938 was the return of parentheses around the
FOR OFFSHORE NAVIGATION ONLY
”. The 1948 edition saw three changes: a reversion
to an italic face for the aforementioned phrase; a swap in font size among the geographic
locator phrase “
” and the title “
CAPE SABLE TO CAPE HATTERAS
”; and the
addition of the clarifier “
” between the seal and the geographic locator.
W1200 1945/54 is the first Sailing Chart to include the geographic locator
formation that the Harbor and General Charts had established late in the second decade of
the twentieth century:
[seal of the Commerce Department], UNITED STATES - WEST COAST, SAN FRANCISCO TO CAPE
FLATTERY, SOUNDINGS IN FATHOMS,
(For offshore navigation only)
The last phrase had also changed to conform with usage on other charts, away from
intended for inside navigation).
Short Title is a reference to the version of the chart title that was printed outside
the neatline at the lower right corner for many years. This convention helps locate charts
in piles or rolls—instead of having to lift up or roll back the majority of a stack of charts
to find the title area on a given sheet, users could tab through just the one outside corner.
In recent years titles have also been printed along other edges, but for the period of
interest to this thesis, the lower right has primacy. Please refer to Layout 14—Lower
Right Corner, and to Table 11.
Table 11. Short title
The first example of a short title seen here is on SF40 1859/77, in time period
two. This is the Edition of 1877, and the short title likely dates from this edition rather
Missing from scan
than from original edition in 1859. The text is in parentheses, in an italic face. This
format has been maintained to the present day.
The next example is seen on W1200 1888 in time period three. No charts from
the east coast have short titles in time periods two and three.
Finally, in time period four a short title is seen on east coast charts, starting with
E1200 1900. NY40 1902 also has a short title, as does GJF 1895. It appears that placing a
short title on the chart started with charts of the west coast and only later were included
on east coast charts.
Following full implementation of short titles there were few changes or
inconsistencies. The short title changed to match the main title as they evolved, but those
were fixed by the end of time period five. The only inconsistency after that point was
whether or not a space was placed between the title words and surrounding parentheses.
Finally in time period nine there is a formatting change as some charts lost the
parentheses and changed from italic to Roman font face, but this did not affect all charts,
at least not immediately.
Compass Rose and Magnetic Variation
A compass rose has been a part of Coast Survey nautical charts since the very first
chart was published. The purpose of including a directional marker on charts is two-fold.
First, it provides information about magnetic variation that must be taken into account
when navigating by compass. The Coast Survey was instrumental in scientific advances
that lead to an understanding of the earth’s shifting magnetic field, and those advances
were seen in its published charts. Second, it orients the chart for the user, important for
charts that are not oriented square with the cardinal directions.
The discussion below is based on Layout 03—Compass Rose. A single compass
rose was clipped from each chart, even though later charts include multiple compass
Some Coast Survey nautical charts were published that were not oriented north-south. However, all of
the editions of the charts used in this projects are oriented north-south.
roses. The intent was to have compasses from as near as possible to a single location on
The magnetic variation arrow and compass roses created in the first time period
are quite crude compared to later version. NY40 1844 and NY40 1845 each include only
a single visual indicator of magnetic variation. The 1844 version does not include what
can be called a full compass rose. Instead it has single arrow and the phrase “Var. 5°51’
West”. The arrow is centered on the intersection of the graticule lines marking 40°24’
North and 0°9’ East (from the Meridian of New York City Hall) so the reader can see the
variation of the arrow in relation to the graticule. The northern point of the arrow is
barbed, and the southern end is a crescent. The shaft of the arrow varies in width, widest
at the middle where a small hollow circle is slightly offset from the intersection of the
graticule, tapering to the top and bottom. The right side of the shaft is wider than the left,
and is printed darker. The two features combine to make the arrow appear offset from the
intersection of the graticule. The overall result is that the arrow looks to be an
afterthought that was applied with less-than perfect care and execution. The arrow and
text are supplemented by a statement in the title area: “Variation of the Magnetic Needle
at Sandy Hook in January 1844, 5°51’ West .”
The 1845 version of NY40 supplements the graticule with a rudimentary compass
rose centered at the same place as the magnetic variation arrow. Three line weights create
a compass centered on true north divided in 32nds of a circle, with the lines for 8ths
heavier than those for 16ths, and 16ths heavier than 32nds. The lines create a circle the
same diameter as the magnetic variation arrow, with a small empty circle in the center.
The arrow indicating magnetic variation is of the same design as that for NY40 1844.
The second time period begins with only small differences from the first charts,
but major changes are made later. NY40 1853 has a design similar to NY40 1845 for its
single compass rose. Centered at a juncture of the graticule, the compass is divided into
32nds using three line weights, with each line the same length as the variation arrow, and
originating at the common center point. The arrow’s top and bottom are a barbed point
and a crescent as before, but the shaft is now a simple straight line with no interior
shading. A five-pointed star centered on the graticule, above the compass rose, reinforces
the direction of true north.
GJF200 1862 introduces several changes to the compass rose. The biggest change
is the doubling in the number compass divisions to 64. A second change is to make each
division (1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64) a different length. The lines continue to be
different weights, and the additional 1/64ths lines are dashed to make them lighter than
the 1/32nds . A third change is the absence of the 5-pointed star to indicate true north. A
fourth change is to the top and bottom of the magnetic variation line. The top no longer
has a barbed point, but instead has a stylized pike symbol on only the left side of the
shaft. The bottom of the shaft now has feathers, on the right side only. A small change is
made to the statement of variation: the name of the direction ‘E.’ is abbreviated rather
than spelled out completely. One last difference is that the compass is not centered on the
intersection of any of the graticule lines.
MH400 1862/77 marks a departure in the compass design. Instead of being
designed as burst of lines radiating from the center, the new design is of a dial, aligned
with local magnetic north instead of with the graticule, with shorter lines that are justified
to the outside of the circle’s circumference. The different divisions (1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32,
and 1/64) are each a different length, but there is less difference in line weight: 1/4 and
1/8 appear to be the same weight, and the three smaller divisions a lighter weight. This
design communicates more clearly while applying less ink on the chart. The example
shown on the layout is centered on a graticule line of longitude, as is one of the other two
compasses on the chart. The third is centered on a graticule intersection. Apparently there
were no hard and fast rules about the practice of placing the compass roses in relation to
the graticule. Another change is that the magnetic variation line has no decoration at
either top or bottom. One last small change is that the center of the compass rose is a dot.
The other examples on the layout from time period two use this same design.
Time period three starts with no changes on NY40 1878 or E1200 1881, but sees
a significant introduction on SF40 1883 with the first instance of Annual Increase shown
on a compass rose. This additional information is shown parallel to the shaft of the
magnetic variation pointer: “
Var’n. 1884 16° 34’ E. Annual increase 0’3
”. This is also the first
instance of the abbreviation “Var’n.”, and the first time the date of the variation is seen
on the compass rose. Also, the pike/feather decoration has returned to the magnetic
The compass rose on W1200 1888 is a complete redesign that provides four
major innovations: the double compass rose, 180 divisions of the compass, numeric
labels, and isogons.
This construction has an outer compass aligned with true north that
is divided into 180 segments. The lines for every 2° are very short compared to the lines
on earlier designs. The 10° lines are just little longer than the 2° lines, and every 30°
away from north/south there is a label. The largest value labeled is 90°, marking
east/west. The inner circle of the redesigned compass is for magnetic variation. It is an
improvement on the previous design, marking out 128ths with varying line lengths
justified to the outside of the circle instead of only 64ths.
In the fourth time period, GJF200 1895 has incorporated the double compass
(180/128), but with some differences. The outer compass for true north does not have
numeric labels, but the lines marking 30° are much thicker than other lines. True north
and true south are marked with the five-pointed star has, and south is decorated with a
E1200 1900 has a compass that may have been an experiment—its design was not
repeated in any of the other examples seen here. It has a quadruple compass. The center
two rings mark the true directions, with the innermost ring divided into 128ths, and an
outer ring divided into 360ths. The two outer rings mark magnetic variation direction,
also the 128ths and 360ths. Each level of division is still a different length, including the
newest (and shortest), those marking single degrees. True directions are still decorated
with a star and crescent, although they are located between the two sets of rings. The
magnetic variation from true north is marked with pike and feathers as before, but this is
the first example seen with decoration on a variation to the west of north. The pike and
feathers are still only on one side of the shaft, but they are on opposite sides.
Lines of equal magnetic variation.
SF40 1901 has no changes in its compass design from SF40 1883.
NY40 1902 is another unique design, not seen on any other chart. It has a double
ring with 128ths inside and 360ths outside, but both are aligned to magnetic north. The
only indication of true north is a single line through the compass with the star and
crescent decoration on it. Numeric labels for 30°, 60°, 90° away from north have
returned, but are used to label magnetic variation. There are also changes to the text
detailing the magnetic variation and annual increase. The text is in a Roman face, not
italic as previously. It is also now arranged in a circle inside the compass, aligned with
the magnetic variation. The year has moved to the end of the variation phrase: “
40’ W. IN 1902
With the beginning of the fifth time period, the major features of the compass
rose are fixed. NY40 1914 is the earliest example. It consists of an inner ring aligned to
magnetic north, divided into 128 sections; and an outer ring aligned to true north divided
into 360 sections, and labeled from 0 to 360 in 30-degree increments inside the outer
ring. The lines of equal division are primarily distinguished by length, not weight (except
for the 30° lines). The crescent decoration formerly marking true south is gone, but the
star for true north remains. The period is dropped from the abbreviation for the direction
of magnetic variation: “
VAR’N 9°45’ W IN 1912
MH400 1916 has one difference that is the first example of an inconsistency that
later occurs elsewhere: “
VARN 6° 20’W IN 1917
” does not have an apostrophe in “VARN” as
in all earlier instances.
In time period six only one of the examples has changes. E1200 1927 introduces
new designs for the lines of the rings, the magnetic variation arrow, and the center point.
The lines that comprise both the inner and outer compass rings have been made longer,
and now, instead of having different lengths for odd and even divisions, different lengths
are reserved for lines marking 5s and 10s. The effect is for the outer ring of the compass
to look heavier than it did in the previous design. The line indicating magnetic variation
from true north has lost the feathers on the south, and the one-sided pike design for the
pointer has been replaced with a simple curved line on both sides, creating an arrow
point. Last, the single dot in the center of the compass has been replaced with a small
cross to indicate true north/south and east/west.
MH400 1922 and GJF200 1922 both lack an apostrophe in the text statement of
magnetic variation: “
”. NY40 1926, SF40 1926, and E1200 1927 both have an
Time period seven had no changes to the design of the compass rose.
The eighth time period saw design experiments that led the way to a new
standard design. While NY40 1944 has no changes from earlier editions, MH400 1942
has two new features. First, the outer ring (true direction) has labels every 10 degrees
instead of every 30. Second, the entire compass rose is printed in magenta ink rather than
E1200 1943 has the same labeling of the outer ring every 10 degrees. The
compass rose is printed in black but the entire chart is overlain with magenta isogons. It
is the first chart with a new formulation for the text statement of magnetic variation: “
”, where the year is in parentheses, and “VARN/VAR’N” has lost the “N”.
One other change is that the cross at the center of the circle is larger.
GJF200 1941/48 has a new design that seems to be the new standard. It is a triple
ring, printed in black, with a closely-spaced inner pair aligned to magnetic north, and an
outer ring aligned to true north. The innermost ring, with six line lengths justified to the
outside of the circumference, is divided into 128ths and has no number labels. The
middle ring is divided into 180ths, made of three line lengths, justified to the inside, and
has labels on the outside every 30 degrees from zero to 330. The outermost ring is
divided into 360ths using three line lengths, and is justified to the inside. It also has labels
on the outside every 30 degrees from zero to 330.
SF40 1947A uses this design in black.
E1200 1948 uses it in magenta with the addition of more labels on the outermost
ring (every 10 degrees).
MH400 1951 uses the E1200 1948 design in black.
SF40 1947b/57 uses the GJF400 1941/48 design in magenta.
W1200 1945/54 drops the two inner circles marking magnetic variation. In their
place is a single arrow. The chart also features magenta isogons.
Magnetic variation was noted on a compass rose as early as 1529 (U.S.
Department of Commerce et al. 1997, 2-27).
For details of the history of engraving at the C&GS, including advances in the
engraving of compass roses using mechanical aids, see the end of the Chart Production
section earlier in Chapter 4. It appears that the rule for the pike and barbs on the compass
arrows was to only appear on the side of the shaft away from the line marking true north.
Aids to Navigation
Navigational aids are man-made objects placed on shore or in the water to help
mariners safely make their way. They are represented on nautical charts to help mariners
determine their location and to help avoid hazards. This section describes how the aids
have changed in specific locations on the example charts. Refer to Layout 11—Aids to
Navigation for the referenced images.
NY40 1844 is here represented by two clippings, one of the northern tip of Sandy
Hook, New Jersey, and the other of the North and South Channels through the shoals
connecting The Narrows and Raritan Bay to Long Island Sound. Sandy Hook is shown
with several labeled pictographs representing aids—all of the labels on both clippings are
in an italic face. The “Light H.” is shown with a little drawing of a lighthouse radiating
light. Details on the symbol include a door and three windows. A “Telegraph” is drawn
and labeled because it is a tall structure that would be visible at sea. “Old East Beacon not
lighted” is drawn in place where Sandy Hook used to end. Just north of this is the new
“East Beacon”. The “West Beacon” is also shown. All three of the beacons are
represented using the same symbol, a tepee-like triangle with a glowing light on the top.
Meanwhile, the clipping of the North and South Channels offer two aids to navigation,
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested