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Jose Antonio de Alzate y Ramirez:  Nuevo Mapa Geografico De La America Septentrional, Perteneciente al Virreynato de Mexico . . . 1768

Title: Nuevo Mapa Geografico De La America Septentrional, Perteneciente al Virreynato de Mexico . . . 1768

Map Maker: Jose Antonio de Alzate y Ramirez

Place / Date: Madrid ? / 1768

Coloring: Outline Color

Size: 26.5 x 21 inches

Condition: VG+

Price: SOLD

Inventory ID: 31332rg


Fine example of the rare "Geografico" edition of Mexican-born cleric and scientist José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez's map of Mexico, published in Madrid in 1768.

Alzate y Ramirez's map is among the earliest maps to locate the Province of Texas (“Provincia de los Texas”). The map shows the route of French naval officer Pierre-Marie-Francois Pagés through Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico along with Native American tribes residing in the area.

Alzate y Ramirez is considered one of the pioneers of scientific journalism, who embraced the ideas of the Enlightenment and devoted his life to the study of all branches of science.  When the Mexican National Academy of Science was formed in 1884, it was named the Alzate Society.  Alzate's map shows much of Spanish America with a condensed view of California north of San Diego, the location of Indian tribes, and Louisiana,  4 decades prior to the territorial purchase of Thomas Jefferson.  As noted by Robert Sherwood in The Cartography of Alexander von Humboldt:

As a prominent scientist, Alzate was given access to official information available in Mexico.  Such information was almost certainly unavailable to the map trade at the time. Alzate based his maps on official reports and sketches of the expeditions of the early eighteenth century.   

Alzate's map is one of the very few separately issued large format maps of Texas, Upper California and Mexico published by a Spaniard in the 18th Century.  As noted by the Texas State Historical Association's on-line article on the Spanish Mapping of Texas, Alzate y Ramirez drew heavily upon the map of Francisco Álvarez Barreiro:

Among the more notable efforts in Texas and Borderlands cartography is that of Francisco Álvarez Barreiro, a military engineer with the inspection expedition of Pedro de Rivera y Villalón (1724–28). Álvarez Barreiro drew a series of six maps depicting the northern and western provinces of New Spain that were visited by the Rivera inspection. This group constitutes "the first detailed mapping of the region from actual observations by a trained mapmaker." Texas is included on an overall map, "Plano corográfico é hidrográphico," which reflects Álvarez's visit to the province with Rivera in 1727 and his personal exploration from La Bahía to the southeastern corner of Texas. The map, owned by the Hispanic Society of America since 1907, was brought to scholarly attention only in 1992. A remarkable achievement for its day, it is especially noteworthy for its depiction of the upper Texas coast, which had scarcely been explored previously. Leaning heavily on the Álvarez Barreiro map, José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez published his Nuevo Mapa Geográfico de la América Septentrional (Madrid, 1768). Alzate repeats some of Álvarez Barreiro's inaccuracies, which had become known through more recent exploration. . . .

The map is quite probably drawn directly from a manuscript map by Alzate y Ramirez, entitled Nuevo Mapa Geografico De La America Septentrional española, divida en obispados y provincias, dated 1767, which is referenced by Daniela Bleichmar in Science iinth Spanish and Portugese Empires, 1500-1800.  The printed map also includes a list of the Bishopricks and Provinces, as noted in the title of the manuscript.  By 1772, Alzate y Ramirez had produced as second manuscript map entitled Plano geografico de la mayor parte de la Ameica septentrional española.  In later years, these maps would come to the attention of Alexandre von Humboldt who commented that Alzate had embraced too many things all at once and displayed more zeal than accuracy.

There are apparently 3 states of the map, one of which (the "Geografico" state), may have been published in Madrid and is clearly from a different set of plates.  Two of the states were published in Paris, one with the Dezauche imprint (contained in 2 text lines at the bottom center, below the neatline) and this example, which shows that it was "Publie sous le Privilege de l'Academie Rle. des Sciences de Paris," (Published under the Privilege of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris)  but without the Dezauche imprint.  There do not appear to be any differences between the two "Geographico" states of the map other than the Dezauche imprint below the bottom neatline.

In the "Geografico" state of the map, the word Geographico in the title is spelled with an "f", rather than a "ph."  This state lacks the Dezauche, and was printed with 4 plates and joined.  The "Geografico" state is quite probably the state of the map published in Madrid, if in fact any of the three were actually published outside of Paris.  There are many other differences in the "Geografico" edition, including the lack of a box surrounding the title and a different note to the right of the title block and above the Paris privilege.  The "Geografico" edition also includes much more boldly engraved mountains, however the cartographic detail appears to be identical.

This edition notes in Spanish that it was published under a privilege granted by the "Academia Real de las Ciencias de Paris," which creates some question as to the place of publication.

While all editions of the map are rare, the Geografico state is by far the rarest.

Related Categories:
Maps of Baja California
Maps of California
Maps of Mexico
Maps of the American Plains
Maps of the Rocky Mountains
Maps of Southwest America
Maps of Texas

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