greeted with distinct disappointment’

By STROMCRONA, Nils, 1739 
£25,000

[General och Åtskillige Speciale Pass-Charter öfwer Hela Öster-Siön…]

Europe
  • Author: STROMCRONA, Nils
  • Publication place: [Stockholm
  • Publication date: 1739].
  • Physical description: Narrow folio, (540 by 330mm), 10 engraved charts (on 11 mapsheets) bound back to back, some dampstaining as common, quarter calf over blue paper, boards, with mauscript annotations, rubbed and scuffed.
  • Inventory reference: 18457

Notes

Nils Stromcrona (1664–1740), successor to Peter Gedda as Captain of Sailing Pilots and Director of Pilots, had grand plans to update and improve on his predecessor’s work, but unfortunately the Great Northern War (1700–21) put paid to any new survey work or publications, and it would not be until 1722 that he could begin his endeavours in earnest. The war had highlighted the lack of marine surveys especially of The Sound (the waterway between Denmark and Sweden) and the Finish coast, which had hampered Swedish vessels trying to engage with their Russian opponents.

In 1722, Stromcrona, in the sloop Goja and two small crafts, began the survey of the Baltic Sea. The resulting ten charts were published in 1739, and although they were certainly an improvement on Gedda’a work, they were greeted with a distinctly muted fanfare, and soon came in for strong criticism, especially his chart of the west coast of Sweden near Gothenburg, which was deemed so inaccurate as to be a danger to shipping.

Although Stromcrona’s charts were criticised for their lack of accuracy, they did receive interest from several Russian naval officers, who since the founding of St Petersburg had begun to take an increasing interest in the Baltic Sea, and especially the Gulf of Finland. Eight out of the ten charts would be copied by the Russian hydrograpery Alexei Nagaev (1704–1781) for his Baltic pilot of 1757.

The present example does not contain the engraved title as the charts have been bound as a working pilot, with the covers backed with blue paper and the charts mounted back to back. This arrangement was common practice during the first half of the eighteenth century, and is an incredibly rare survival, as working pilots such as this were often discarded or destroyed.

The atlas is exceptionally rare with OCLC recording only two examples: BNF, and the Royal Danish Library. The work is also rare on the market, with only one example of the atlas appearing at auction since the Second World War.

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