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A Landmark Spanish Chart of Florida and the Bahamas

Important early 19th Century Sea chart of Florida and the Bahamas, one of the earliest Spanish Sea Charts to focus on the coast of Florida and the Bahamas.

The map offered here was published in 1805 and is almost certainly the first detailed map of the region published by the Spanish Hydrographical Office. The map is based largely upon the observations of Dionisio Galiano in the ship San Fulgencio (1799).

The present example of the map was created "por Disposicion Del Exmo. Sor. Principe De La Paz, Generalisimo de las Armas de Mar y Tierra."  Principe, de La Paz (Prince of Peace), was a title in the Peerage of Spain, granted in 1795 by Charles IV to Manuel Godoy, his Secretary of State. The title is a reference to the Peace of Basel which Godoy successfully managed, putting an end to the War of the Pyrenees in July 1795.   He was also given the title of Generalissimo of the Army of Land and Sea of Spain in 104.  The title was very quickly revoked by Ferdinand VII, upon his taking the thrown after the death of his father in March 1808.   In 1804, Godoy was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Spanish agency, the Dirección de Hidrografía, was set up in the late 18th century to disseminate accurate sailing information, about the same time as the British with their Hydrographic branch of the Royal Navy. The Spanish were of course the first major sponsors of discovery in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and mainland Florida. As far back as the beginning of the16th century they had started compiling cartographic information on these regions although the information was maintained as a national secret. Much of the British and French information was published privately.

States of the Map

  • 1805 -- with dedication to Manuel Godoy (Principe de la Paz, etc.).
  • 1807 -- Godoy dedication removed


The map is very rare.  While we have seen the 1807 edition on the market, this is the first example of the 1805 we have ever seen.

We locate only the examples at the National Library of Spain, Museu Marítim de Barcelona and the Paris-Bis Bibliotheque de Geographie.

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.