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The Second Printed Edition of Sebastian Vizcaino's Chart of the Coast of California

Rare early 19th Century example of James Burney's map of the coast of California, based upon an earlier Spanish chart by Sebastian Vizcaino.

The first appearance of a printed version of the Vizcaino chart was issued in Juan Espinosa y Tello's Atlas para el viage de las goletas Sutil y Mexicana al reconocimiento del estrecho de Juan de Fuca en 1792, publicado en 1802.

This remarkable map by Sebastian Vizcaino, provides the first comprehensive printed depiction of the first "modern" mapping of the coastline of California, as it had been surveyed in 1602, some 200 years earlier. Vizcaino's maps exist only in manuscript form, the present map being the earliest comprehensive attempt to illustrate Vizcaino's comprehensive findings along the California Coastline in a single map focused on the region, from Cabo San Lucas to Cape Mendocino. Most of California's oldest coastal place names derive from Vizcaino's map.

Sebastian Viscaino was responsible for the second "comprehensive mapping of the California Coastline." In 1593 the disputed concession for pearl fishing on the western shores of the Gulf of California was transferred to Vizcaíno. He succeeded in sailing with three ships to La Paz, Baja California Sur, in 1596. He gave this site (known to Hernándo Cortés as Santa Cruz) its modern name and attempted to establish a settlement. However, problems of resupply, declining morale and a fire soon forced its abandonment.

In 1601, the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico City, the Conde de Monterrey, appointed Vizcaíno general-in-charge of a second expedition--to locate safe harbors in Alta California for Spanish Manila galleons to use on their return voyage to Acapulco from Manila. He was also given the mandate to map in detail the California coastline that Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo had first reconnoitered 60 years earlier. He departed Acapulco with three ships on May 5, 1602. His flagship was the San Diego and the other two ships were the San Tomás and the Tres Reyes.

On November 10, 1602, Vizcaíno entered and named San Diego Bay. Sailing up the coast, Vizcaíno named many prominent features such as the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Point Conception, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Point Lobos, Carmel River and Monterey Bay (thus changing many of the names given these same features by Cabrillo in 1542).

The commander of the Tres Reyes, Martín de Aguilar, became separated from Vizcaíno and continued up the coast to present-day Oregon as far as Cape Blanco and possibly to Coos Bay, which along with the Juan de Fuca expedition would shape mapping of the Northwestern coast of America for more than 100 years.

One result of Vizcaíno's voyage was a flurry of enthusiasm for establishing a Spanish settlement at Monterey but this was ultimately deferred for another 167 years after the Conde de Monterrey left to become Viceroy of Peru and his successor was less favorable. A colonizing expedition was authorized in 1606 for 1607 but was delayed and then cancelled in 1608.

In describing the Espinosa y Tello Atlas, Rumsey notes:

The Spanish "Vancouver." . . . . Sometimes attributed to Dionisio Alcala Galiano. The title of the text volume is "Relacion del Viage Hecho por las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana en al ano 1792 para reconocer el estrecho de Fuca..." The last and very important voyage up the Pacific coast to be undertaken by Spain is detailed in the nine maps and eight plates of the atlas. Galiano and Cayetano Valdes led the expedition, arriving in the northwest at the same time as Vancouver. Although the maps were published four years after the Vancouver maps, Wagner considers them in many respects to be superior and Humboldt used them in his Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne. Wagner further states: "The general impression that the English discoveries of Vancouver were published four years before those of the Spaniards. a misapprehension... The principal reason, however, why the nomenclature and geography of Vancouver came to occupy the field was that his maps were extensively copied by the famous English cartographer, Aaron Arrowsmith and later by the English Admiralty."

Burney follows Espinosa y Tello on a simplified basis, but also adds San Francisco Bay, which was not named by Espinosa y Tello, as the Bay was not discovered until more than 150 years after Vizcaino's visit to California.