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POLAND – Baltic Coast: Mer Baltique. Côte de Prusse. De Jershöft à Rixhöft d’après les Cartes de l‘Amirauté Allemande. Zoom

POLAND – Baltic Coast: Mer Baltique. Côte de Prusse. De Jershöft à Rixhöft d’après les Cartes de l‘Amirauté Allemande.

A rare and highly attractive sea chart, embracing much of the Baltic Coast of Poland, featuring vignettes of lighthouses and other landmarks.

Place and Year: Paris, 1883 / 1907.
Technique: Lithograph (very good, slightly age toned, 3cm clean tear along original centrefold now secured), 67 x 103 cm.
Code: 62291

This fine sea chart embraces the Polish Baltic Coast from Jarosławiec, in what is now the West Pomeranian (Zachodniopomorskie) vovoidship all the way west to the resort city of Sopot in the Pomeranian (Pomorskie) vovoidship, just shy of Gdańsk.  The seas feature detailed hydrographic information, such as bathymetric soundings, the locations of shoals and hazards, the nature of the sea floor and magnetic declination.  On the shore, the locations of lighthouses are heightened in orange.  Forests, highlands, lakes, towns and railways are depicted, while the chart is embellished with several attractive pictorial vignettes of major landmarks.


The chart is based on advanced hydrographic surveys conducted by the Kaiserliche Marine (German Imperial Navy), as the region was then under the administration of the German Empire.  It was issued by the Dépôt général de la Marine, the French Navy’s hydrographic service, which since 1720, had been one of the world’s leading makers of sea charts.  The first edition the chart was issued in 1883, with the present edition being issued in 1907, embracing corrections and improvements up to September of that year.  Interestingly, in the lower right corner (blank margin) features the contemporary stamp of the likely original seller of the chart: ‘V. Weisaeker / Opticien de la Marine / 13, Rue du Quai, Dunkerque.’


The major towns and lakes featured on the chart, running west to east, are: ‘Jershöft’ (Jarosławiec); ‘Lac de Vietzke’ (Jezioro Wicko);  ‘Stolpmünde’ (Utska); ‘Stolpe’ (Slupsk); ‘Lac de Garde’ (Jezioro Gardno); ‘Lac de Leba’ (Jezioro Lebsko); ‘Lac Sarbske’ (Jezioro Sarbsko); ‘Lac de Zarnowitz’ (Jezioro Żarnowieckie); ‘Rixhöft’ (Rozewie); ‘Putzig’ (Puck); ‘Oxhöft’ (Oksywie); ‘Gdingen’ (now named Gdynia); ‘Forêt d’Oliva’ (Oliwa Forest); ‘Zoppat’ (Sopot).


The most striking difference between the mapping on the chart and the appearance of the region today is the depiction of the area along the shores of the Bay of Gdańsk (Zatoka Gdańska) and Puck Bay (Zatoka Pucka), on the right-hand side of the chart, running between ‘Zoppot’ (Sopot) and ‘Putzig’ (Puck).  While already a popular resort area by the turn of the 19th-20th Centuries, the region was still largely a sparsely populated, bucolic rural area.  This would all change dramatically following its transfer to the newly created Polish Republic in 1920.  As the corridor was then Poland’s only outlet to the sea, vast resources were allocated to developing the region.  Most notably, ‘Gdingen’ (Gdynia), which is shown to be a small town of barely 2,000 residents in 1907, grew to have a population of over 120,000 in 1939, and is today a sizable city and major port.


The most attractive aspect of the chart are the 10 vignettes that depict major landmarks, such as lighthouses and churches, including: ‘Phare de Jershöft’ (Jarosławiec Lighthouse / Latarnia Morska Jarosławiec); ‘Eglise de Marsow’ (Marszewo Church / Kościół Marszewo); ‘Eglise de Gard’ (Grdno Church / Kościół Gardno); ‘Phare de Scholprin’ (Smołdziński Lighthouse / Latarnia Morska Smołdziński); ‘Eglise de Zarnowitz’ (Żarnowieckie Church / Kościół Żarnowieckie); ‘Nouveau Phare de Rixhöft’ (New Rozewie Lighthouse / Nowa Latarnia Morska Rozewie); ‘Vieux Phare de Rixhöft’ (Old Rozewie Lighthouse / Stara Latarnia Morska Rozewie); ‘Phare de Oxhöft’ (Oksywie Lighthouse / Latarnia Morska Oksywie); ‘Eglise d’Oxhöft’ (Oksywie Church / Kościół Oksywie); and ‘Hochwasser’, the historic villa, near Sopot.


The survival rate of such working sea charts is remarkably low, as the vast majority perished due to heavy use aboard ships.  The present chart is thus very rare, we are not aware of another example appearing on the market during the last generation.


References:  Justus Perthes, Dr. A. Petermann's Mitteilungen aus Justus Perthes' geographischer Anstalt, volume 31 (1885), p. 78; Monatshefte für Politik und Wehrmacht [auch Organ der Gesellschaft für Heereskunde] (1894), vol. 91, p. 104; Zeitschrift der gesellschaft fur Erdkunde zu Berlin (1884), p. 538.


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