The Atlas

This unique volume of sea charts presents the known world in the 1820s artistically and accurately.
Norie Marine Atlas Binder Ticket, around 1856
The double elephant Norie Marine Atlas was bound around 1856 in New York, according to the binder’s ticket on the inside of the front cover. Research in the Manhattan city directory indicated the address on the ticket was for a newer location, information that allowed for accurate dating of the volume.

Maps present information on land masses, while charts are for navigating the world’s waterways. John Norie's employer, William Heather, began selling a Marine Atlas of charts in 1797; it went through several editions over the years. The forty charts in this volume were dated with additions to 1828. The sizeable book, a double elephant folio volume, was bound around 1856 in New York, according to information on the binder’s ticket on the inside front cover. This is the seventh edition.

Extensive staining and multiple tears indicate heavy use, especially at the back of the volume in South Pacific and South American charts. Of the forty charts in the book, only two contain handwritten notations and both relate to the seabird guano trade off the coast of Peru. Other clues indicate that the volume may have been owned by a guano shipping company in New York.

Handwritten Notations & Ship Locations,1868
The names and navigational positions of guano transport ships, together with other information, were written on the last two charts in the bound volume. Some of the information, including ship names that might help identify the Atlas’s owner, was lost in the chart fold. The handwriting is very difficult to read, which also makes accurate transcription problematic.
The Norie Marine Atlas, Around 1856
The first plate in the Norie Marine Atlas displays the entire world as known in the mid-1820s. At the time, the global coastlines were pretty well known and charted, but the interiors of many of the larger land masses remained to be explored.
Transfer from U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library, Loan from Smithsonian Libraries, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology
The Norie Marine Atlas, Around 1856 
The United States and other nations explored and claimed a cluster of small Caribbean islands, seen in this page of the Norie Marine Atlas, for their seabird guano. However, the fertilizing qualities of the Caribbean guano never matched its Peruvian counterpart. The Caribbean has significant rainfall that washes out the guano’s nitrogen, a chemical that helps plants grow faster and stronger.
Transfer from U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library, Loan from Smithsonian Libraries, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology
 
The Marine Atlas’s last two charts are worn and torn, and they contain handwritten notations relating to the Peruvian and Pacific Island guano trade. Ship names and locations, along with other notes about activities and guano island ownership, suggest that the Marine Atlas belonged to a guano shipper. The chart paper watermarks and binder’s ticket further suggest that the owner was a New York guano trader in the mid mid-1850s to late 1860s. 
Transfer from U.S. Coast Guard Academy Library, Loan from Smithsonian Libraries, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology