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Coasting Chart for the Gulf of Mexico

With Contemporary Track of a Voyage

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306.     [MAP]. [GULF OF MEXICO]. FRANCE. DÉPÔT GÉNÉRAL DE LA MARINE. Carte du Golfe du Mexique dressée par Mr. Keller, Ingénieur Hydrographe, d’après les travaux les plus récents. Publiée par ordre du Roi sous le Ministère de M. le Baron Roussin, Amiral, Pair de France, Sécrétaire d’État au Département de la Marine et des Colonies, Au Dépôt-général de la Marine en 1843. [printed table below title] Table de réduction des Mètres en Brasses et en Pieds [seal and text below table] Dépôt Général de la Marine [lower left in image area: three small profiles, the first showing the eastern Mexican coast from Puente del Gada to Zempoala, the second labelled Cofre de Pérote, and the third labelled Pic d’Orizaba] [above neat line at lower right] (1853) [below lower neat line] Gravé par Chassant | Écrit par J.M. Hacq | Prix Deux Francs. [Paris], 1853. Copper-engraved hydrographical chart with rhumb lines, showing coastal soundings, sand bars, a few lighthouses, and land masses with subtle grey shading, printed on heavy laid paper mounted on contemporary brown cartographical linen overlapped on recto to form selvage. On the map are precise contemporary ink lines and small notes (one in pencil) showing three legs of a voyage, starting from south of Haiti to Veracruz, and thence from Veracruz to Havana, and finally north through the Strait of Florida into the mid-Atlantic. The first leg of the voyage has ink and pencil dates indicating it took place between October 19 and 28, in an undesignated year. The third leg also has ink notations indicating the voyage took place between December 12 and 15. Neat line to neat line: 59.5 x 88.5 cm (extending beyond neat line in Haiti area); sheet size: 62 x 92.5 cm. Minor surface wrinkling, moderate scattered stains and light browning, but generally a fine copy of a cloth-backed sea chart, difficult to find in any condition due to the risks associated with use at sea.

     Mapoteca Colombiana 153. Not in other standard sources. This rare chart is part of a family of maps that began with the late eighteenth-century Spanish Hydrographic Office’s survey of the Gulf of Mexico (see Streeter 1029 and Items 303-305 herein). The map directly descended from the French Dépôt Général de la Marine’s 1800 Carte des côtes du Golfe du Mexique…. (Streeter 1030). In this instance, however, the map shows a larger extent of territory than its Spanish counterparts. Here, the area includes the Caribbean east to Haiti and the North American coast line from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to Belize, Mexico. The level of detail is somewhat comparable to the 1836 Spanish edition (see Item 305) for overlapping areas of the North American coast. Considerably more detail, however, is given for the Caribbean. For example, three lighthouses on Cuban shores are shown, the one at Cape San Antonio described as revolving. In another instance, information on Isla Bucy Chico is said to have been provided by a man called Taffart, who apparently discovered the island on May 24, 1839. Finally, William Steetz’s 1827 track through the Bahama bank is also shown, a description of which he published as Instruction Nautique (Paris, 1825).

     Some consider French reworkings of Spanish hydrographic charts to be more finely engraved. The present chart engraved by J.M. Hacq (see Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. II, p. 243) certainly exhibits a noteworthy level of finesse. The person who designed this map was Heinrich Keller (1778-1862), a Zurich publisher and mapmaker who worked for the French Dépôt Général de la Marine (Tooley, Vol. II, p. 13).


Sold. Hammer: $1,100.00; Price Realized: $1,320.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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