Scarce Spanish Sea Chart of the southern part of the Bahamas, Western Hispaniola and Eastern Cuba and Jamaica.
The chart was originally issued by the Spanish Hydrographical Department in 1856, with this example updated and corrected to 1862.
At the upper right, the map shows the "Seno de Exuma" (Exuma Sea), the channel between Exuma on the west and Cat Island (called Isla Grande de San Salvador) and Long Island on the east. To the west, the chart reaches the western portion of the Caicos Islands, with a portion of West Caicos drawn in by hand and place names similarly added in the margins.
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.