Fine sea chart of the Southernmost coasts of South America, published in Madrid by the Spanish Hydrographical Department.
The chart shows the exploration of the coastline of Argentina and Patagonia between 1789 and 1795 by the Spanish Royal Navy, providing significant new details along a coastline which is still somewhat incomplete along the parts of the Patagonia Coastline, Tierra del Fuego, etc.
The chart is very rare, with no examples appearing at auction or dealer catalogs listed by AMPR in the past 30 years.
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.