chart of the Gulf Coast, Texas / Virtual Rare Map Fair


Title: Carte des côtes du Golfe du Mexique compris entre la pointe sud de la presqu'Ile de la Floride et la pointe nord de la presqu'Ile d'Yucatan: Dresée d'après le observations et las plans des espagnols, et publièe par ordre du Minstre de la Marine . . .
Published in: Paris, 1800

Size: 23.5 x 35.2 inches.
59.8 x 89.3 cm.

Condition: Several wormholes filled in, hardly notable. Overall in very good condition.
Condition Rating

Detailed and important early chart of the Gulf Coast and Florida and dated 1800.
First French edition of "the first printed [map] to show and name Galveston Bay" and "the first large-scale printed chart of Texas and the Gulf Coast based on actual soundings and explorations" (Martin & Martin); the first printing of this handsome chart appeared in Madrid in 1799; the present French version quickly followed, appearing in J. N. Bellin et al., "Hydrographie Françoise"; all versions of this chart are exceedingly rare. Lowery 721n. Phillips, Atlases 590.

The chart was issued one year after the Spanish Carta Esferica and draws extensively from this map.
This French edition is virtually identical to the Spanish of the preceding year, but is more finely engraved. The 1799 Carta Esferica, was the first large-scale printed chart of the Texas Coast based upon actual soundings and explorations.
The chart is based in large part on the landmark survey of the coast commissioned by Bernardo de Galvez and conducted by Jose de Evia. The most significant milestone of the survey was the discovery of Galveston Bay in 1785, which had never before appeared on a printed map. Baie de Calvesion (Galveston) is shown on the present map exactly as laid down in the manuscript maps from Evia's Survey.
The coastline configuration in the established the prototype for the mapping of Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast which would dominated printed maps for the next 2 decades. The map remained as one of the most significant charts of the region for several decades. Both Humboldt and Arrowsmith copied the information set forth in this map for their important maps.

For the first time, the Texas coast was mapped from actual survey, and the chart was the first in print to show and name Galveston Bay.... Later map makers who made use of the chart in one fashion or another included Alexander von Humboldt and John Melish, and it was not until the publication of Austin's map in 1830 that the configuration introduced on the Carta esférica was superceded. Both the Spanish and French editions are very scarce. Streeter located just eight copies of the [various issues] of the Spanish edition and four copies of the French among seventy-six important institutional collections that he surveyed. Streeter locates no copies of the French edition in Texas.
On the map it is noted Grave par E. Collin, et Ecrit par Besancon, Etienne Collin is also noted as being a engraver for 'Depot de la Marine'. It is probable that Collin engraved the map after originals by Besançon.

Streeter 1030 (locating four copies: Library of Congress, Harvard, New York Public Library, and the British Museum): "The [French edition] seems almost identical with the Depósito Hidrográfico chart of 1799 [Streeter 1029] as far as the Texas coast line and rivers are concerned. On this chart Passe del Caballo is shown twice, the name for the lower pass, perhaps an error, being new on this chart." Streeter in the introduction to the second part of his bibliography of Texas (p. 329) designates the 1799 Spanish version of this map (three copies located) as one of the six maps especially desirable for a Texas collection, commenting that in the final years of the eighteenth century "even the coast line of Texas was little known and its delineation by...a chart of the Depósito Hidrográfico de Marina of Spain entitled Carta esférica que comprende las costas del Seno Mexicano...represents a real advance. It is the first of two or three early maps showing the Texas coast line and the lower courses of its rivers. This Carta esférica was one of the authorities used by Humboldt in constructing his highly acclaimed Carte Générale du Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne.
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