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Description

First edition of this extremely rare separately issued Spanish Sea Chart of the Coast of Panama, western Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru, undertaken by the Spanish Admiralty beginning in 1791.

A rare Spanish chart derived from the voyage of Malaspina and drawn by Felipe Bauza who accompanied Malaspina and was his chief chart maker. The track of Malaspina's ships are shown, as are the triangulation experiments of La Condamine for the measurement of a degree of meridian in 1744. Includes Vista de la Isla Gorgona.--Vista de la Isla Sta. Clara ó Antoriajado.--Vista del Cabo Blanco.--Vista de la Silla de Payta.--Vista de la Punta Falsa de la Guja. "Longitud ocidental de Cadiz."

The survey was undertaken as a part of first portion of the Malaspina Expedition, from 1789 to 1791.

From September 1786 to May 1788, Malaspina made a commercial circumnavigation of the world on behalf of the Royal Philippines Company. During this voyage he was in command of the frigate Astrea. His route went via the Cape of Good Hope and, returning, Cape Horn. Astrea called at Concepcion in Chile in February 1787, whose military governor, the Irish-born Ambrose Higgins, had six months before recommended that Spain organize an expedition to the Pacific similar to those led by La Pérouse and Cook. Higgins had made this recommendation following the visit of the La Pérouse expedition to Concepcion in March 1786, and presumably discussed it with Malaspina while the Astrea was at Concepcion.

Following the Astrea's return to Spain, Malaspina produced, in partnership with José de Bustamante, a proposal for an expedition along the lines set out in Higgins' memorandum. A short time later, in October 1788, Malaspina was informed of the government's acceptance of his plan. José de Espinoza y Tello, one of the officers of the Malaspina expedition, subsequently confirmed the importance of the information sent by Higgins in stimulating the Government to initiate an extensive program of exploration in the Pacific. The prompt acceptance of Malaspina's proposal was also stimulated by news from St. Petersburg of preparations for a Russian expedition (the Mulovsky expedition) to the North Pacific under the command of Grigori I. Mulovsky, that had as one of its objectives the claiming of territory on the North West Coast of America, around Nootka Sound, that was also claimed at the time by Spain.

The Spanish government of the time, devoted a large share of its budget to scientific development, that was incomparably superior to that of other European nations. In the last four decades of the eighteenth century, a staggering amount of scientific expeditions crossed the Spanish Empire, such as the botanical expeditions to New Granada, Mexico, Peru and Chile, that collected a very complete sample of the American flora. The New World was a vast laboratory for experimentation and an unending source of samples.

The Spanish king at the time, Charles III, was also known for having a penchant for just about everything related to science, and had already procured funds to further develop science and technology in several areas. He promptly approved the expedition, although he could never see its results, as he died exactly two months later.

Additionally, the Spanish government had a vested interest on all issues concerning the Pacific Ocean because a large number of her colonies were in that area, including most of the American Pacific coast, the Philippines in Asia, and several islands, such as Guam.

The expedition carried on board the elite of astronomers and surveyors of the Spanish Navy, headed by Juan Gutiérrez de la Concha, with the young Felipe Bauza as cartographer. Also on board were many scientists and artists, such as painting master José del Pozo, artists José Guío and Fernando Brambila, cartoonist and columnist Tomás de Suria, botanists Luis Née, Antonio Pineda and Thaddäus Haenke, and many others.

 

The Atrevida and Descubierta sailed from Cádiz on July 30, 1789, and after anchoring for a few days off the Canary Islands, proceeded to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, to the coasts of South America. Once there, they sailed down to Río de la Plata, and stopped in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, in order to prepare a report on the political situation of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. Then they sailed over to the Falkland Islands, and from there they headed towards Cape Horn, crossing to the Pacific Ocean on November 13, and stopping at Talcahuano, the port of Concepción in present-day Chile, and again at Valparaíso, the port of Santiago.

 

Continuing north, Bustamante mapped the coast while Malaspina sailed to Juan Fernández Islands in order to resolve conflicting data on their location. The two ships reunited at Callao, the port of Lima, in Peru, where they carried out investigations about the political situation of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The expedition then continued north, mapping the coast, to Acapulco, Mexico. A team of officers was then sent to Mexico City to investigate the archives and political situation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Being in Mexico, the expedition received an order from the new king of Spain Charles IV, to search for a Northwest Passage recently rumored to have been discovered, which forced Malaspina to abandon his plans to sail to Hawaii, Kamchatka, and the Pacific Northwest. Instead, he sailed from Acapulco directly to Yakutat Bay, Alaska (then known as Port Mulgrave), where the rumored passage was said to exist.

From that point forward, the expedition explored Alaska, returned to Acapulco, then crossed the Pacific for Manila, Port Jackson, New Zealand and Tonga, before returning to Cadiz via the Atlantic.

Direccion Hidrografica de Madrid Biography

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.