The Evolution of Symbols on Nautical Charts Prior to 1800

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This study attempts to determine the way in which symbols evolved on nautical charts, the identity of originators of these symbols, the spread in their use, and the forces involved in their continuing evolution. A twofold approach is utilized to resolve these questions. First a history of nautical charts prior to 1800 is presented and second, the actual examination of over 4200 nautical charts was carried out to discover and document their symbol content. A graphic summary of the symbols used on these charts is presented along with an analysis of the data gathered in 1 ight of the history of nautical cartography. The evolution of the symbols on nautical charts was found to be closely aligned with one of the three types of symbols described by Dreyfuss (1972): arbitrary, abstract or representational. The arbitrary symbols examined in this study clearly went through an evolutionary process, whereas the abstract and representational symbols remained virtually static throughout the period. The originators of the symbols are given when identifiable and the spread and evolution of the symbols is discussed. From this study it can be concluded that this type of research is most valuable in discovering the evolution of symbols on nautical charts and that the graphic summary could be considered a standard for evaluating the evolution and use of symbols on nautical charts prior to 1800.