BAILY, John (fl. 1811-1850). Map of Central America. London: Trelawney Saunders, 1850.
Single sheet, (25 ¾ x 37 ½ inches). Fine folding engraved map with original hand color in full, laid down on cartographic linen in 24 sections (some faint spotting). Original publisher’s navy blue cloth gilt (head and tail of spine chipped).
Provenance: From the important cartographical library of Warren Heckrotte, his sale, Rare Cartography, Exploration and Voyages, Part II, December 3, 2015, Lot 85.
First edition. Attractive and significant map of Central America as it was becoming a thoroughfare for gold-seekers on their way to California, and schemes for building a canal across the Isthmus were fertile. In the lower portion of the map, in the Pacific Ocean, are four "Vertical Sections of the Proposed Canals Between Lake Nicaragua & the Pacific Ocean By way of the River Sapoa (No.1), and the River Lajoa (No.2), Lake Manaqua & Realejo (No.3), and the River Chagres (No.4)."
“John Baily was an Englishman who lived for many years in Central America. He was employed in 1837-38 by the government of Nicaragua to survey a potential canal route from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. This map, published in London in 1850, was accompanied by a book, Central America, published separately, which contained much of the detailed information that Baily gathered to make this map. The map shows four possible canal routes: one surveyed for the government of Costa Rica in 1848 by the Danish engineer Andres Oersted, Baily’s own proposed route of 1837-38, a route across present-day Panama proposed in 1844 by the French engineer Napoleon Garella, and a route across Nicaragua favored by Prince (and later Emperor) Louis Napoleon of France. The drawings at the lower left highlight the engineering challenges posed by building a canal that would have to traverse inland hills and mountains and account for the different sea levels (caused by tides) on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal. Baily’s map and writings frequently were cited in later debates about where and how the canal should be built” (Library of Congress online). Kap, MCC 106, #185. Orozco y Berra 1002.