The Norie Atlas and the Guano Trade

Exhibition Website

Feb 16 2016 - Jan 29 2017

Explore John Norie’s unique Marine Atlas, a book of sea charts dating to the early 19th century.

Uncover the historical context of the guano and nitrate trades, in which many of the swiftest and strongest 19th-century American square-rigged sailing ships participated. 

The Atlas will be augmented by images and models of American clipper ships; pamphlets of the Pacific Guano Company of Woods Hole, Massachusetts; nitrate voyage track charts acquired from a member of the International Association of Cape Horners; and associated materials.

Lucrative trade in guano? It's true! A few short years after Peru had declared its independence from Spain, some people in Lima began to focus on a potential source of untold wealth that was to prove more precious than gold. This was guano, which, in its greatest concentration, was found on the diminutive Chincha Islands that lie just off the Peruvian coast. More Precious than Gold: The Story of the Peruvian Guano Trade  covers the story of this international guano trade. It outlines the fate of the unfortunates recruited to cut and load the guano. It also gives full details of the hardships endured by mariners employed in this trade. The story of those who grew rich on the proceeds of this trade is also outlined. Importantly, it explains just how the Peruvian government mismanaged the trade, to the extent that Peru became burdened with debts, rather than prospering on the proceeds of their vast new guano-based income.

  • American
  • History

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