COSTANSÓ, Miguel (1741-1814). Chart of California. London: A. Dalrymple, June 21st, 1790
COSTANSÓ, Miguel (1741-1814). Chart of California by Miguel Costansó 1770 entitled Carta Reducida del Oceano Asiático ó Mar del Súr Que comprehende la Costa Oriental y Occidental de la Penísula de la California, con el Golfo de su Denominacion antiguamente conocido por La de Mar de Cortés y de Las Costas de la América Septentrional desde el Isthmo que úne dicha Peninsula con el Continente hasta el Rio de los Reyes, y desde el Rio Colorado hasta el Cabo de Corrientes... Mexico y Octubre 30 de 1770 Miguel Costansó. London: A. Dalrymple, June 21st, 1790
Single sheet (25 4/8 x 19 5/8 inches; 24 6/8 x 18 6/8 inches to the neat line, full margins). An exceptionally fine engraved map of California from Rio de los Reyes - Point Reyes at about 40 degrees north to Cabo de Corrientes at about 20 degrees north, decorated with a panel of coastal profiles across the top edge, the title and long legend lower left.
Provenance: with Sotheby's, 6/25/87; from the important cartographical library of Warren Heckrotte, his sale, Rare Cartography, Exploration and Voyages, Part I, 29th October, 2015, lot 122
The EXCEPTIONALLY RARE ENGLISH ISSUE of Costanso's map of the coastline of California, which was FIRST TO SHOW SAN FRANCISCO BAY. Costanso's original map, dated 1771 but perhaps issued a bit later, and this English translation of it by Dalrymple are both extremely rare. Wagner: "extremely scarce"; The Map Collector: "extremely rare".
This is the "FIRST MAP OF THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA based on observation since the charting of the coast by Vizcaino in 1603 and it reflects with some accuracy the actual configuration of the coast as far north as Point Reyes. Modern San Francisco Bay appears on a printed map for the first time as Estero de S. Francisco. The chart was drawn by Miguel Costanso, royal engineer, who accompanied the 1769 expedition led by Captain Gaspar de Portola to establish a settlement at Monterey Bay, discovered by
Vizcaino in 1603. Traveling by land from San Diego, in November 1769 the lower arm of San Francisco Bay was discovered by Portola. The northern arm was soon seen from a distance, however the entrance to the bay was not observed, thus its position on the chart is based on conjecture. Portola did not recognize Monterey Bay, returned to San Diego, and then in the spring retraced his path north. This time Monterey Bay was recognized and a presidio and mission were founded in June of 1770, announced in the inscription on the map. On his return to Mexico, Costanso prepared a written account of the expedition and a map, dated 30 October 1770, using his records of the expedition and those of the pilots of the ships that had paralleled the land expedition. The manuscript chart was sent to Madrid where it was engraved by Royal Geographer Tomas Lopez and printed by Hipolito Ricarte in 1771. The chart was not widely circulated in keeping with the practice of Spanish secrecy, and knowledge of the great bay was not diffused for some time. In 1790, Alexander Dalrymple in London acquired Costanso's map and published a copy [as here], Chart of California by Miguel Costanso, 1770. By that date, later Spanish expeditions
had improved on Costanso's map, and in 1798 Vancouver's charts appeared, becoming the standard for the west coast of North America for many years" (WMM for "California 49" San Francisco, 1999, map 14, first Spanish edition of 1771).
The survival of Spain as a colonial power and, therefore, as a power to be reckoned with in Europe was one of the main objects of King Charles III’s policy, although his foreign policy was not very successful. Charles was King of Spain from 1759–1788, and "fearing that a British victory over France in the Seven Years’ War would upset the balance of colonial power, he signed the Family Compact with France—both countries were ruled by branches of the Bourbon family—in August 1761. This brought war with Great Britain in January 1762. Charles overrated his own strength and prospects and those of his ally. Sharing in the defeat, he lost Florida to England and revealed Spanish naval and military weakness. In the American Revolution, Charles III was caught between a desire to embarrass his colonial rival, which accounts for his undercover aid to the American revolutionaries from 1776, and fear for his own American possessions, which led him to offer his mediation in 1779. When Great Britain refused his conditions, he declared war, but, at the same time, he refused to recognize the United States’s independence. Charles was more successful in strengthening his own empire. Commercial reforms, designed to open new routes and new ports for trade between Spain and the colonies, were undertaken from 1765" (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Gaspar de Portola's expedition to the west coast of America was part of this policy of colonial consolidation.In 1767 the Spanish monarchy sent him to "California to serve as governor. Soon after his arrival, Portolá assumed command of an expedition to establish Franciscan missions in Upper California and secure Spanish claims to the area.
"On May 15, 1769, Portolá, accompanied by Father Junípero Serra, began his journey from Velicatá in Lower California. The expedition joined another Spanish party at San Diego in late June, and, after establishing a mission there, Portolá and 40 men proceeded to march northward. The group reached the Bay of Monterey early that autumn, but Portolá, failing to realize that he had reached his destination, continued north as far as San Francisco Bay before returning to San Diego in January 1770 after a grueling march. He was assured that he had indeed reached his objective, so he returned to the Monterey region the following May. There he founded the presidio and mission of Carmel. He left the new settlement on June 9, 1770, to return to Lower California. In 1776 he was chosen governor of the city of Puebla, and he served in that post for eight years" (Encyclopedia Britannica). Wagner Northwest Coast 747; TMC 4, pp. 21, 25; Harlow SF Bay 1.