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Gold Rush era sea chart from the Golden Gate to San Pablo Bay

Place/Date: Washington, D.C. / 1850
Title: Chart of the Bay of San Pablo Straits of Carquines and part of the Bay of San Francisco California
51 x 76 cm (20 x 30 in)
Condition Rating


This sea chart represents an important encapsulation of the Bay Area at a time of momentous change.

The explosion of population cause by Gold Fever led to a demand for more accurate maritime charts of San Francisco Bay. This chart offers excellent detail around the Golden Gate and bay coast of Marin County, as well as depth sounds and triangulation work with San Pablo Bay.

In addition, city grids for San Francisco, Vallejo, and Benicia – the three most important cities in the area at this time – are depicted, as well as smaller settlements at places like San Rafael, San Antonio (Oakland), and San Leandro. One can see the tripartite division of San Francisco: the city, Mission Dolores, and the presidio. An essential item for collector’s of Californiana.


Cadwalader Ringgold

Cadwalader Ringgold (August 20, 1802 – April 29, 1867) was an officer in the United States Navy who served in the United States Exploring Expedition, later headed an expedition to the Northwest and, after initially retiring, returned to service during the Civil War. During 1838–42, he was third in command of the United States Exploring Expedition in the Pacific, commanding Porpoise from 1840 at the invitation of the head of the project, Charles Wilkes. He carried out surveys of Antarctica, the South American coast, the Tuamotu Islands, Tonga, New Zealand and the Northwest Pacific coast of North America.

Ringgold was promoted to commander on July 16, 1849 and began the definitive survey of the San Francisco Bay region, suddenly important because of the discovery of gold in the area. Ring gold both built on previous surveys, most notably Frederick Beechey’s 1833 chart, and undertook a new series of triangulation and azimuth efforts, beginning at modern-day Pittsburgh, CA (then known as the ‘New York of the Pacific’). After the California surveys, Ringgold helped Navy officials choose a location for a dockyard for the Navy’s Pacific station. It later became the Mare Island Navy Yard.

In 1851, Ringgold published A Series of Charts, with Sailing Directions embracing Surveys of the Farralones, Entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, Bays of San Francisco and San Pablo, Straits of Carquines and Suisun Bay, Confluence and Deltic Branches of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and the Sacramento River (with the Middle Fork) to the American River, Including the Cities of Sacramento and Boston, State of California. This series of charts, views, and sailing directions for the entrance to San Francisco Bay and the inland waterways of gold rush California paints an important picture of the region during a time of tremendous change.

Jno. T. Towers

Condition Description

Expertly laid on Japanese tissue paper; left margin completed.


Woodbridge, p. 42-4; Cowan p.533; Howes R303; Kurutz 536e; Streeter 2679 (1st ed).

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