Scarce and highly detailed chart of Cuba, published by the Spanish Government in Madrid. This example is laid on the original linen and rolled, and includes extensive pencil notations around Havana, from a contemporary hand. This was clearly a working chartm and is in unusually fine condition for something that was almost certainly used at sea. Spanish maps of the Caribbean are quite scarce, even in the 19th Century. Extends from Cape San Antonio at the western tip of the island to the Rio Siguagua and Cape Piedras in the Northeast and Ensendada de Cochinas in the Southeast. Includes Havana. A clean fresh example, with the linen also in near flawless condition.
The Dirección de Hidrografía, or the Directorate of Hydrographic Works, was established in 1797. Its roots were in the Casa de Contratación, founded in 1503 in Sevilla, which housed all the charts of the Spanish Empire and oversaw the creation and maintenance of the padrón real, the official master chart. The Casa, now in Cadiz, was shuttered in 1790, but Spain still needed a hydrographic body. In response, the Dirección was created in 1797. One of its first projects was the publication of charts from the Malaspina Expedition (1789-1794). The Dirección oversaw not only publication, but also surveying. The Dirección was abolished in the early twentieth century, when their work was distributed to other organizations.