Important Spanish sea chart of the Gulf Coast of Mexico and the Yucatan.
This is the rare first edition of the large-scale printed chart of the Gulf Coast, based upon actual soundings and explorations, which would later be re-issued in 1825 in the rare 14 chart Atlas y Portolano de la America Septentrional, published in Mexico in 1825, to commemorate Mexican independence from Spain.
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.