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Linen-backed Sea Chart of the Texas Coast in 1836

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305.     [MAP]. [GULF OF MEXICO]. SPAIN. DEPÓSITO HIDROGRÁFICO DE MARINA. Carta esférica de las costas del Seno Mexicano con parte de la isla de Cuba y cánales adyacentes. Construida por D. Felipe Bauzá en 1829 Adiccionada [sic] y corregida en la Dirección Hidrográfica y presentada á S.M. la Reina Gobernadora por el Exmo. S.D. Juan Álvarez y Mendizábal Secretario de Estado é Interino del Despacho de Marina. Madrid Año 1836. [upper right above neat line] 113. [seal and text at upper left] Dirección Hidrográfica Precio 20 rs. vn. [coastal profile from Villa Rica to Punta del Gada, in the vicinity of Veracruz, beneath which is the name Bernal] [upper left below seal, untitled key to abbreviations on map] [key at lower center] Significación de los signos. [Madrid], 1836. Copper-engraved hydrographical chart showing coastal soundings and lighthouses (latter with contemporary coloring in yellow and red), on heavy laid paper mounted on contemporary brown cartographical linen overlapped on recto to form selvage. Neat line to neat line: 60.5 x 90.5 cm. Sheet size: 63.5 x 93.7 cm. Minor surface wrinkling due to imperfect adhesion of paper to cloth backing, upper left neat line scrubbed with slight loss, some light marginal browning, small hole at lower blank right (not affecting text), four semi-circular stains along bottom (affecting lower 7 cm of map). Overall a very good copy of a rare chart. The cloth-backed sea chart format is one that seldom survives due to intended use at sea. When such charts are found, condition is often a problem.

     Mapoteca Colombiana 112. Not in standard sources. Although based on Evia’s landmark 1799 coastal chart issued by the same Spanish department (see Item 303 herein), this map was printed from an entirely new plate. The geographical area covered is basically identical in both maps, showing the far western Caribbean almost to the eastern tip of Cuba and the North American coast from Cumberland Island, Georgia, to Espiritú Santo Bay in Yucatan. Six lighthouses are located in “Provincia de los Tejas”: one at Santiago Bar (at the mouth of the Rio Grande), one at the Corpus Christi Channel, three on Galveston Bay, and one at the Sabine River. In some ways, this map has considerably less detail than its predecessor. For example, fewer soundings are shown in certain areas. On the other hand, in other places soundings are given in more detail, and other features, such as lighthouses and sand bars, have been added, as has the profile of the area near Veracruz. This map delineates the track of Captain and Pilot José Joaquín Ferrer (1763-1818) from Santander to New Orleans in 1801, apparently showing the celebrated astronomer’s journey to the U.S. after he decided to leave Mexico.

     Charts like this were intended to be consulted at sea. They are mounted on durable cloth and rolled for ease of storage, intended to be spread out on a charting table. Such charts are especially scarce because of their ephemeral nature. Once a superseded sea chart became obsolete, it was dangerous not to destroy it. Thus, most working charts did not survive beyond the publication of the next edition. The makers of such charts were amongst the great cartographers of their day, constantly updating and improving their maps. The precarious environment in which sea charts were utilized also made them especially vulnerable to damage and loss. They were tools of the sea trade, meant to be used and discarded. This chart would have been sold to merchants and others sailing in the Gulf of Mexico in 1836, a year of intense significance for Texas and Mexican history.


Sold. Hammer: $1,800.00; Price Realized: $2,160.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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