George Eldridge.

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Eldridge’s First Chart of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard & Cape Cod
[Boston, 1857/ 1874]

Nantucket/ Martha’s Vineyard/ Cape Cod.  ELDRIDGE, G. [Boston, 1857/ 1874Chart of the Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Shoals…  40 ½ x 62 ½ inches.  Lighthouses and other navigational aid highlighted in color; expertly conserved & re-mounted on new linen, margins extended, some relatively light staining, early notations in pencil, still a superior example of this type.                                                                             

This was the first chart of several by the exceptionally long-lived Eldridge firm to focus on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and part of Cape Cod; it was also the largest they produced of the area. The chart has Eldridge’s characteristic simplicity and clarity with depths, navigational hazards and lighthouses all easily read.  It was first published 1857 and had a very long publication life—through several reduced editions--extending into the 20th century.  This original, large-scale edition is the rarest of his charts of the area in part due to its greater size.  In addition, Eldridge’s charts, due to their quality, tended be used until fully worn.

George Eldridge (1821-1900) of Chatham produced his first chart (of the Chatham area) in 1851.  Indicative of the quality of work of the family firm, it continued to publish charts through 1932, and The Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book is published to this day.  “[Eldridge’s charts] survived because of good design, simplicity, omission of extraneous shore topography, legible sounding and notes, and the use of compass courses only. … Their loyal public; fishermen, coaster, tug masters, and yachtsmen, often continued to use obsolete Eldridge charts until the beginning of World War II” (Guthorn).  Interesting background information on Eldridge can be found on page 129 in Surveying the Shore, Historic Maps of Coastal Massachusetts by Joseph G. Garver.

Guthorn, P. U. S. Coastal Charts, p. 12.



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