Auction 169, Lot 337

Rare Chart Depicting Malaspina Expedition

"Survey of the Harbour of Panama by the Sloops Descubierta & Atrevida by Order of His Catholic Majesty. In the Year 1791", Arrowsmith, Aaron, Sr.

Subject: Gulf of Panama

Period: 1800 (dated)


Color: Black & White

30.4 x 22 inches
77.2 x 55.9 cm

This large-scale chart depicts 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.

Aaron Arrowsmith established his own cartographic business in 1790 after working with Faden and Cary for two decades. He quickly became one of the most prominent mapmakers in London and established an international reputation. That reputation was built on his ability to gather up-to-date information from a wide variety of sources and compile the most accurate and highly detailed maps. He went on to become Hydrographer to the King of England and Geographer to the Prince of Wales. He specialized in large-format, multi-sheet, separately issued maps that are now very scarce. This chart is no exception, as we could not find any other examples offered for sale in the last 40 years.

References: Kapp (MCC-73) #91.

Condition: B

Printed on sturdy paper with a "1799 Russell & Co." watermark. There is light offsetting with light overall toning that is heavier along the centerfold.

Estimate: $300 - $500

Sold for: $375

Closed on 9/12/2018