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Rare American Whaling Chart of the North Pacific

Bering Strait/ Kamchatka/ Russia/ North Pacific. W. C. TABER & SON [New Bedford, 1845]
Chart of Kamscatka, And The Sea Of Ochotsk, Copied from the best Russian Authorities… . 23 ¾ x 34 ¾ inches
Blueback chart with stitched canvas protecting the edges. Lightly toned, some staining, mainly in top margin, else excellent condition.


Rare (one OCLC location), well-preserved whaling chart, presaging the opening of the Bering Strait and Sea of Okhotsk whale fisheries. When this chart was published in 1845, the American whaling industry was near its peak. However, by this time, the supply of sperm whales in the southern and mid Pacific Ocean was already beginning to dwindle. In 1848 a then unfamiliar species, the bowhead whale, was encountered in the Bering Strait, opening up the northern Pacific fishery. Whaling in the Bering Strait peaked in 1852, and whalers then shifted to the Sea of Okhotsk, near Kamchatka, the focus of this chart.
While the Taber chart pre-dates the heyday of the northern Pacific whale fishery, it may have been made at the behest of whalers whose intention was to explore the northern Pacific for new hunting grounds. Moreover, it is likely that it was one of the only charts specifically of this area available at the time in America when whaling in the far north Pacific was at its peak.
There can little doubt that the chart was intended for whalers, as it was dedicated to “the Whaling Fleet of the United States.” The chart still has affixed on the verso the original label of the seller--“John Kehew, At His Navigation Store”-- of New Bedford, who was a purveyor, as listed on the label, of all manner of instruments and printed navigational items. William C. Taber & Son was a successful New Bedford bookstore, but we have yet to find this company referred to in map literature, suggesting that this may have been one of its only cartographic publications.

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