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18th Century Portolan Sea Chart of the Southern Iberian Coastline -- Escuela Nautica de Mataro (Catalonia)

Finely executed 18th Century Manuscript Sea Chart of the southern coast of Spain & Portugal, extending from the Algarve region to Marbella, Spain and the northern tip of Portugal, drawn by Mariano Campines at Escuela Nautica de Mataro (Mataro Naval School), near Barcelona, Spain.

The map illustrates the coastline and offshore features in fine detail, with soundings and coastal details measure to along the coastline out to a green line representing a depth of 100 fathoms, with towns, fortifications, harbors and other coastal features notes. Small arrows note the direction of the currents along the coastline.

The title of the map indicates that it is was copied from an original in Havana, dated 1776 (Sacado de su original en la Havana 1776). While we have located other Portolan Charts from the Escuela Real de Navigacion at Cadiz and at San Telmo (Sevilla), we can find no other examples of nautical charts produced in the Catalan Naval school in Mataro.

The following information was supplied by Portolan chart expert Richard Pflederer:

  1. The rhumb lines of this chart are drawn in the tradition of portolan charts. From a central point, a hidden circle is drawn. At the intersection of the 16 lines radiating from this central point and the circle, secondary nodes are established from each of which 32 more lines emanate. This is the system that was developed in the 13th century and was still found useful well into the 18th century.
  2. One cartographic feature is the line delimiting soundings at the 100 (meter? fathom?) line. This same feature is found on most of the Escuela Real de Navigacion Cadiz charts as well.
  3. There is also an indication of the quality of the sea bottom: sand, mud, loose mud, etc. all indicted by capital letters A, C, L.
  4. There are a couple of elevations of the coastline as viewed from a ship at sea.
  5. There is a longitude scale at the southern edge of the chart showing longitude range from 7 to 12 degrees east of about the longitude of Tenerife. There is also a latitude scale on the eastern edge which shows the chart extending from 34.5 to 37.5 degrees North. The latitudes and longitudes of two points at the ends of the coverage area (Cabo S Vincente and Tarifa) are pretty accurate.
  6. Based on the difference between the length of a degree of latitude and a degree of longitude, it appears that the chart is drawn to the Mercator projection, not unusual for Spanish charts of the day.


We have been unable to locate any other examples of Portolan maps made at Mataro Naval Academy.

Note at the top right:

In Toda la Presenta costa el Aguas e P?? confucion y ??? alas . ... y Ban en orden alas Marciara quando acia e Agua ?ie???n por vacera la ??ron ??da e la A?ya en toda esta cota son 19 al No. ?? Deliniado por Mariano Campines en la Escuela Nautica de Martaro Ano de 1787

Condition Description
Some soiling and moisture damage at the far left, with some loss of vellum.