Rare Aaron Arrowsmith map of Panama Harbor, published in London in 1800.
Arrowsmith's chart is an English edition of a rare Spanish hydrographical chart illustrating the route of the Malaspina Expedition through the Gulf of Panama in 1791.
Funded by the Spanish government, this scientific expedition was commanded by Alessandro Malaspina and José de Bustamante y Guerra with the purpose of further exploring the Pacific Ocean. Numerous experts accompanied the expedition, including surveyors, astronomers, cartographers, painters, and botanists. The five-year expedition succeeded in measuring the western coast of North America more precisely than ever before. The tracks of the two ships, Descubierta and Atrevida, are shown on this chart along with depth soundings and navigational hazards. Malaspina was imprisoned upon his return to Spain due to his involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government, and most of the findings of his expedition were not published for more than 100 years.
OCLC locates 4 examples (State Library of New South Wales, British Library, Clements Library and National Maritime Museum (Greenwich)).
Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) was born in Durham in 1750. He came to London for work around 1770, where he found employment as a surveyor for the city’s mapmakers. By 1790, he had set up his own shop which specialized in general charts. Arrowsmith’s three shops were located on or near Soho Square, a neighborhood the led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Joseph Banks, the naturalist, and Matthew Flinders, the hydrographer. Through his business ties and employment at the HO, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the HBC, and other companies. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King. He died in 1823, whereby the business passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John.