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A Very Rare Spanish Chart of Superb Quality

Patagonia/ Argentina/ Chile/ Falkland Islands. MALASPINA, Alessandro/ DIRECCION DE HIDROGRAFICO [Madrid, 1798]
Carta Esferica De Las Costas de la America Meridional desde el Paralelo de 36ยบ 30' de Latitude S. Hasta el Cabo de Hornos. Levantada De orden del Rey En 1789. 90. 94. y 95. por varios Oficiales de su Rl. Armada... 38 1/4 x 24 inches
Dissected for folding & mounted on linen as issued; label of Parisian map seller, Picquet, on verso; excellent.


Very rare, separately published, richly detailed Spanish chart of Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan and the coasts of Argentina and Chile, to about the mouth of the Rio Negro on the eastern side and to north of Valdiva on the western side. The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands are very well detailed. The inset is of the northern part of the Gulf of St. George in Argentina. The chart was largely based on surveys conducted on the voyage of Alessandro Malaspina and shows the tracks of his ships.
An Italian working under Spanish royal commission, Alessandro Malaspina (1754-1810) was one of the great oceanic explorers of the second half of the 18th century though not nearly as well known as his English peers. From 1786 to 1788 he commanded a commercial circumnavigation. However, it was his Cook-inspired, scientific and political voyage of exploration from 1789 to 1794 on which his importance rests. An aim of this voyage was to visit and map all the Spanish possessions in the Americas, the Pacific, and East Indies. It included a search for the Northwest Passage that involved the surveying of the Alaskan coast to Prince William Sound. The present chart emerged from this voyage, and it reflects Malaspina's characteristic care and thoroughness. An important cartographic result of Malaspina's voyage was that the entire western coasts of the Americas were fixed with a precision never previously achieved. However, while his cartographic and scientific findings were of great value, much of it was suppressed due to the unfavorable political climate he encountered on his return to Spain. He in fact was jailed, and very little of his findings saw the light of day at the time, explaining the rarity of this chart. In fact, the serious study of Malaspina's achievements did not begin in earnest until the late 20th century.

References: P-LG 4155, atlas of 53 maps of the Direccion de HIdrogafico; this is no. 32. Vaughan, et al, Malaspina on the Northwest Coast gives a brief review of Malaspina's voyage and references.

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