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NOAA Office of Coast Survey's Copper Plate Restoration Project

A copper plate

A copper plate storage facility at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Beginning in 2004, the NOAA Office of Coast Survey embarked on a multi-year project to clean and restore more than 550 scribed copper plates, glass negatives, and electroplate alto (or positive) plates representing the evolution of nautical charting in the United States since the Coast Survey's creation in 1807.

The restoration process includes stripping years of dirt and corrosion from each plate, inking, and application of a protective coating. The project will systematically restore the collection as funds become available. To date, 11 percent of the collection has been cleaned and restored. Stored in a non-climate controlled warehouse for over 25 years in Maryland, the collection was moved in 2003 to a state-of-the-art storage facility at NOAA's headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Coast Survey Copper Plate Collection is a companion collection to Coast Survey's Historical Map and Chart Collection, which gives the public online access to over 20,000 nautical chart and historic map images.

Coast Survey plates are available for exhibit loan and long-term display. Currently, plate and print sets are loaned and displayed in many exhibits throughout NOAA, Department of Commerce, and Congressional office buildings. A plate and print set of Galveston, Texas, was recently placed on long-term loan to the House Commerce and Energy Committee conference room in the Sam Rayburn Building, Washington, DC.


Related Web Sites

Office of Coast Survey's Historical Map & Chart Collection