Archive for the ‘Historical Interest’ Category

Chart of Dubai in 1910

April 29, 2016

A715 Dubai

A715 main

A715 detail

To buy this chart click here

Chart History

This survey sketch of Dubai ‘Dibai’ is part of a larger set of drawings completed by Commander H. F. Walter on behest of the British Royal Navy, 1910.

The plan shows the ‘sandy shore’ coastline (signified as a broken line) leading from the southwest of the Dibai Creek to the north east, with a sandbank that ‘dries to 2 to 3 feet’. Large areas of trees are marked, as are wells to the south west and two smaller settlements of ‘mat huts’ on the north easterly coast. The settlement of Dibai is the focus of this plan, with a large concentration of mat huts on the approach from the south and on the northerly side of the Creek. Landmarks of particular interest to the Royal Navy have been marked: a House, Fort (Lat. 25”15’45”N, Long. 55”18’30”E) and Tower (‘conspic’ – conspicuous) on the southerly stretch of the Creek; the Ferry which provided transport across to Dairah; the Sheikh’s House, NE Tower and Boat, all within or in close proximity to the Dairah settlement itself; and a third Tower (‘conspic’) further inland and to the north east of Dairah.

The Memoirs in the top right corner provides further information in regard to how the plan was constructed ‘on the AB side of 6520 feet, derived from the Ship’s Masthead…’; point B being the top of the mast (crow’s nest) of the survey ship, and point A being the NE Dairah Tower, as seen from 6520 feet (approximately 1.98 kilometres away).

‘Points have been shot in by Sexton Angles from various Anchor Stations… and shore stations…’ All stations are marked in red, with the anchorage symbol being a three point compass (the southerly point being an arrow) and the shore symbol being a circle inside a triangle. A note is also made of the soundings which are ‘reduced to LWOS’ which could perhaps be ‘Level/Low Water Over/On Sand’. Worth noting are the very low water levels on the approach to Dubai, dropping from 8 foot (2.4 metres) to a ¼ foot (3 inches being approximately 7.6 centimetres).

Depths are shown in Fathoms.

دبي خريطة 1910

April 29, 2016

A715 دبي

A715 main

A715 detail

انقر هنا لشراء هذه الخريطة

معلومات إضافي

معلومات اضافيةصورة هذا الاستبيان التاريخي قدمت عن طريق البحرية الملكية في 1910

خريطة دبي هذه هي جزء من خرائط كثيرة تم إنجازها من قبل القائد (ه.ف. والتر) بناء عاى طلب البحرية الملكية البريطانية عام 1910 و هذه الخريطة توضح الشاطئ الرملي على طول الساحل (تم رسمها على شكل خط متقطع) تمتد من جنوب غرب خليج دبي الصغير إلى الشمال الشرقي حيث توجد المرتفعات الرملية (التي تصل إلى حوالي 2-3 قدم) .وتمت ملاحظة مناطق واسعة من الأشجار و كثير من الآبار إلى الجنوب الغربي. يوجد أيضاً مستوطنتين صغيرتين مكونتين من أكواخ الحصير على الساحل الشمالي الشرقي.مستوطنة دبي هي التي تم التركيز عليها في هذه الخريطة مع وجود تركيزعلى (عدد كبير )من أكواخ الحصير عند الاقتراب من جهة الجنوب و الشمال من جهة الجدول (الخليج).

توجد بعض المعالم الرئيسية التي أثارت اهتمام البحرية الملكية في هذه المنطقة وهي: بيت، حصن كونسبيك  (25،15،45) شمالا  وطول (55،18،30 ) شرقا، إضافة إلى برج واضح (بارز)على الامتداد الجنوبي لهذا الجدول (خليج).

العبارة التي كانت وسيلة النقل (المواصلات) عبر دائرة منزل الشيخ وهو برج وقارب كلهم موجودين في مستوطنة الديرة أو بالقرب منها.

البرج الثالث يتغلغل خلال البر ويقع الى الشمال الشرقي من الديرة .

الملاحظات (المذكرات) المكتوبة في الزاوية العلوية اليمنى تزودنا بمعلومات اضافيةبما يختص بكيفية انشاء الخريطة (الخطة) على جهة 6520 قدم  المشتقة من سارية السفينة .النقطة ب و هي اعلى قمة الصاري (عش الغراب)الموجودة على سفينة المسح و النقطة أ و هي برج الديرة كما تمت رؤيتها من على بعد 6520 قدم تقريبا 1,98 كيلومتر

نقاط قد هوجمت عن طريق سيكستون انجلز من محطات مراسي مختلفة ومحطات صرف صحي.

و المحطات الشاطئية.كل المحطات تم تمييزها بالاحمر و الرموز على المراسي بثلاث درجات على البوصلة ( السهم يتجه ناحية الجنوب )ورمز الشاطئ يكون دائرة داخل مثلث.و تمت اضافة ملاحظة عن الأحوال الجوية و تم اختصارها الى   LOWS  و الجدير بالملاحظة هو انخفاض مستوى الماء عند الاقتراب من دبي و التي تتناقص من 8 أقدام حوالي (2,4 متر) إلى حوالي ربع قدم حوالي 3 إنشات حوالي (7,6 سنتيميتر ) من الماء .

العمق يتم قياسه بالقامة.

Interview with New York’s DNAinfo news

December 7, 2013

The story so far…


About 4 years ago, whilst researching in one of our source archives I came upon a beautiful map of New York.  The entry in the archive log gave very little away as to what it was or indeed who had made it.  This map (actually it is both a map and a plan) is especially significant for two reasons.  Firstly it is a never seen before map of British troop positions on Long Island (Queens) and up across Harlem Heights in 1776, just after George Washington had escaped north out of the city. General Howe’s headquarters are even marked..


The map also contains, at its centre what I believe to be Bernard Ratzer’s finished drawing for what is now known at the Ratzer Map of New York City which was published in 1776 by William Faden and Thomas Jeffreys.


Over the past few years Heritage Charts has tried to bring the map to the attention of the wider antiquarian map world and also to that of American academics. It was About a year or so ago I met with Bob Singleton from the Greater Astoria Historical Society who has been instrumental in bringing the map to the attention of other historians and academics, all of whom currently share Bob’s concern that the map is authentic…

The centre panel from the map


Detail from the Ratzer plan


The interview

The questions were asked by Jeanmarie Evelly of New York’s

If you could tell me a bit about Heritage Charts and the work you do there ?

I am the founder and owner of Heritage Charts.  I have the best job in the world.. researching and bringing beautiful and historic documents in the form of charts, maps, plans and surveys to light.

Heritage Charts is dedicated to opening up the British archives (we Brits have everyone’s history!), and making otherwise unaffordable (never mind unobtainable) manuscripts to light and accessible to the public.  The world is full of Antiquarian map dealers (many whom I call friends incidentally) who will sell you an original of a rare publication for more money than most people can only imagine.  Heritage Charts is able to make available stunning giclée reproductions of these originals at fraction of the price of an original.

A large part of the Heritage Charts collection is comprised of reproductions of original surveys made by British cartographers and hydrographers, from which London publishing houses of the time such as Faden, Sayer, Bennet & Jefferys made copies and published.  These manuscript surveys which form the basis of the Heritage Charts collection are one-off pieces.  There is only one of each original, in the hand of the very men who did the surveying; men such as Charles Blaskowitz, Thomas Wheeler, Bernard Ratzer, James Grant, Willliam Owen, Henry Bayfield, George Gauld, James Cook, John Knight, & Samuel Holland.  These ‘manuscript’ surveys are the Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vince & Shakespears’ of their time.  Priceless if they ever came on the open market (which they won’t because they belong to the British nation and are held in archives, public record houses and museums).  This is the service Heritage Charts fulfills… uncovering.

In the past few years Heritage Charts have actively tried to work with a number of historical societies and museums up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States (The original 13 mainland colonies).  A glance at our ‘Logbook’ is testament to our travels and our dedication to bringing these beautiful, historic, document to life and also to our efforts to raise funds for such societies ad organizations.

By the way, many people make the mistake that these are American documents.  They are not, they are British, by the British, for the British… because the British were either attacking something or defending something at the time.

How did you come across the NYC map, and what about it piqued your interest?

How long have you got?…
I was looking for documents relating to the New York and the Revolutionary war.  Having uncovered some copies of the famous ‘Ratzer Plan’ of New York I came across various other documents relating to the war around NY in 1776 (some of which are still as yet unpublished.  Amongst those which really caught my eye was a very brown and dusty plan which showed Manhattan and the surrounding districts of Long Island and NJ.  What was of immediate interest was the inclusion on the map of british troop positions, including General Howe’s headquarters at Newtown, LI.  Closer inspection showed the discrepancy in the paper used.  In the middle of the map was a small (12″ sq) piece of paper which clearly showed Manhattan in much greater detail than the ‘battle plan’ seemed to warrant.  Even closer inspection (over several visits to view the document) revealed the fact that the central piece of paper was more familiar than I had originally thought.  It was in fact identical in detail to Bernard Ratzer’s Plan of New York as published by William Faden & Thomas Jeffreys in 1776.  Identical, except in one detail – the inclusion of tide arrows on the North (or Hudson) and the East rivers.  In tune with fashion at the time amongst the London publishing houses was the inclusion of ‘tide arrows’ – these would have been added to the publisher’s copy.


The reality of this map or plan is that in 1776 the British were at war.  No matter how valuable this piece of paper may be to the world of map enthusiasts, historians and the like today, it was more useful to the British for it to be reused (after it had been copied) as the centre piece to a hurriedly made battle plan leading up to the British offensive North out of New York through Harlem heights and White Plains.

The lower part of the central section are clearly missing or torn off as the words ‘Part of’ (in Brooklyn) are missing.  Likewise the top half of the map/plan.  This struck me at the time as being significant inasmuch as this was clearly just the middle section of a much larger plan of the British strategy in 1776-7.  The fact that the central piece of paper – Ratzer’s original finished copy – was just a starting, or focal point, for the geography became even clearer.  By this stage I’m not so sure that my interest was ‘piqued’, so much as pumped!


What also needs clarification are the grid-lines which cover the central piece of paper – the ‘Ratzer Map’. These are copy grid lines which were drawn on an original in order to facilitate an accurate enlargement of the original.  Scaling up would be the norm.  This is a feature of countless British Admiralty surveys which I have seen in my research.  Yet another clue as to the connection between this scrap of paper and the Faden and Jeffrey’s ‘Ratzer Map’ is the fact that the British Admiralty (and her surveyors), from the mid 1700s had been collaborating closely with the London publishing houses in the sharing of information and both cartographic and hydrographic data.  This would have been just such an example.  All surveys remained the property of the British Admiralty and were stored by them – often quite carelessly.  Accurate records of manuscripts held by the Admiralty were not kept until many years after the end of the Revolutionary war although to be sure, once surveys were lodged with the Admiralty they rarely came out again, probably as no one knew where to find them again so poor was the record keeping!  Even today it can be quite a challenge to track certain types of document down.

Detail showing the barge used for the ‘retreat’ from Governor’s Island, with a 32 pound gun and 40 oars


How did you get involved with Bob and the Greater Astoria Historical Society?

For a couple of years I’d know what I’d found.  How important and how valuable (historically rather than monetarily – as the only copy of this is not for sale) this scrap of paper was – especially to American historians and map enthusiasts.  For some time I attempted to get the attention of institutions such as NY Public Library, who sadly refused to even grant an interview.  I therefore went ‘local’.  Bob Singleton’s name came up in several discussions with assorted historical societies in Queens and Long Island and he was gracious enough to let me in to his office.  What I found especially engaging about Bob was his very modern approach to history.   He didn’t care that what I showed him was a reproduction.  He totally got it when we talked about the fact that it was what was on the map which mattered, not whether I’d walked through the door with a priceless original.  The fact that I was able to substantiate the source of the material was enough.

What’s your gut feeling on the document, in terms of whether or not you think it’s authentic?

I am very conscious that there is skepticism as to the original document’s authenticity although knowing the integrity of the source I do find it amusing.  Most people have no idea what is hidden and lost in the bowels of their own national institutions.  Why would such a find be so surprising?  Now, when a private art collector suddenly comes up with a lost masterpiece, that may well be suspicious.  When you have touched, and have worked with as many original documents as I have over the past few years, know where they are and understand their lineage you would know.  If anyone is suggesting that two hundred plus years ago – because that is how long this document has been in British Admiralty hands – someone had the foresight to make a forgery, well, lets just say its unlikely.  If anyone thinks I drew it, then think again, I struggle to draw a cheque!

Here is an example of what concerns people who look at the map:  The central square (the finished copy of the survey which was used to make the published Faden and Jeffrey’s Map) is very accurate.  The surrounding piece of paper and especially the map drawn upon it is clearly not to scale and is possibly even inaccurate in its detail of roads etc.  Does that matter?  If you were a British surveyor in 1776 tasked with drawing a plan of the current battle positions for your Commander-in-Chief (overnight?), what would you do?…. grab the nearest scrap of a starting point (Ratzer’s finished copy which was now redundant), stick it on to a larger piece of paper and sketch out the environs, putting in the salient information such as troop positions, villages, roads, ferries, redoubts, etc… This is by definition a Map, with a Plan at its centre.  A map does not need to be accurate in a geographic sense.  A plan does.

My hope throughout all of this is that people – especially institutions – come to better realise that owning or displaying a perfect reproduction of an other wise out of reach original is better (and more realistic) than not having the information and beauty contained within available for people to enjoy and learn from.  This is a story-board of significant magnitude.

What are your next steps, in terms of trying to determine whether the map is real?

I’m going to sit back while someone else interrogates the British government department responsible for the archive, the archive itself (and hopefully obtain a carbon fingerprint on the document).  In the end I know what it is.  The fact that the question of the map’s authenticity has now hit media status means that the history and beauty itself has already been subjugated to that modern cancer… everyone’s an expert and there will now be two sides of belief.  We call it Democracy, with all of its freedom of thought and expression.  Excellent!  On that basis the map is innocent until proven guilty….  Just be ready when I say ‘told you so!’


Is this Bernard Ratzer’s original drawing for the ‘Ratzer Plan’ of New York?

September 5, 2012

This section is the centre piece of a larger plan dating from 1776 which may be viewed at:

This section was added to at the time to become the centre piece of a battle plan for the skirmish up at Harlem heights.

If you would like to know more about this document please contact us at:

An Artist’s View of Charleston

May 29, 2012

A recent stay in Charleston, working with the Charleston Library Society to catalogue their beautiful Atlantic Nelpune volumes prompted me to see for myself what the reality of the view which appears at the top of the Chart ‘A Chart of the Western Passage into the Long Island Sound from New York up the East River’.

[Heritage Charts A303, HNS p.154, NMM image HNS154a & CLS p.101 & picture 108a]

November 1st 1777

The Heritage Charts edition of the same chart dates from sometime after the 1st November 1777 as the view has been updated.


The views depicted on both of the editions although they differ in foreground content are both of the city from the same place on James Island.  Most interesting is the view of the city which gives a line of sight up the Cooper River, past the Customs House, toward Mount Pleasant.  The question I asked myself was fromwhere exactly on the James Island shore was such a view achieved…

The most obvious starting point is of course the angles and views of the Major landmarks of the time which are of course the church spires.

(click on the image for an expanded view)

A view of Charleston from the South shore of the Ashley River in 1777

The slightly later edition of the same chart looks like this…

(click on image for expanded view)

A view of Charleston from the South shore of the Ashley river. 1777-78

Notice that the couple lounging in the foreground have been replaced by two people wotking the fields.  The cattle have gone and the port itself appears more industrious with extra ships in the river.

When one considers the angle of the view the artist must have taken a position South East of the city and all things considered including the accssibility of the river shore at that time (and today come to that) the most likely vantage point would seem to be along the coast-line marked yellow on the map, or indeed from by Fort Johnson itself.

Taken from Heritage Charts A308. A sketch of the operations before Charlestown, South Carolina. 1780.

(click on the image for an expanded view)

Now, for all of the detail which went into the creation of these magnificent charts, plans and maps the most important thing to remember is that the men who produced them were as much artists as they were draftsmen.  They had an eye for what would look good to their Lords and Masters, what would sell their work to those who could afford it and no less importantly, what would give the best view (excuse the pun!) of British control and posperity.

Look again at the pictures above and compare them with the reality of distance.

(click on the picture for an expanded view)

Remembering that in 1780 the Battery at the Southern end of the city, closest to the near shore-line stopped some several hundred metres short of where the battery wall is today, even a talented artist such as JFW Des Barres cannot have seen the city with such clarity and detail as his artwork would have us believe!

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