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Plano de la Ciudad de Puerto Real, En La Isla De La Jamaica Segun Bontein y la copia de Bellin: Por D. Juan Lopez
Estimated value: $900 - $1400
This scarce work features a set of four Spanish maps on one sheet depicting Spanish towns and harbor plans of important Jamaican ports.
Spanish settlement of Jamaica began in the late 15th century, following the exploratory expeditions of Christopher Columbus. The island quickly became a major centre for sugar production, built on the back of slave labor. It was also of strategic importance and served as a central base for Spain in the Caribbean until 1655 when England seized control. Cartographic elements found throughout the maps include the location of roads and dwellings, scales, soundings, sea banks or shoals, compass roses, and some topographical details.
Plano de la Ciudad de Kingston in la Jamaica
The map in the upper left quadrant depicts the city of Kingston, Jamaica. The city was founded in 1693 following the 1692 earthquake which devastated Port Royal, which had previously been the centre of commerce. It shows the grid plan which was used for better organizing the city in the early 18th century with an eye to commerce, with the port to the south of the city proper. A large central plaza is indicated to have a cistern. The map is number coded, with all streets named, and important buildings, landmarks, etc., denoted.
Port Royal, Jamaica
The map in the upper right quadrant features the city of Port Royal, founded in 1494 and once the largest city in the Caribbean, functioning as a center of commerce and shipping. The city was completely destroyed by earthquake in 1692, a natural catastrophe which many perceived to be an act of divine retribution for the city’s having been a haven for pirates, brigands and slave traders. The map is highly detailed, with streets named, major building and fortifications denoted, and elevations shown by hachures. It has a decorative compass rose with a tower on a rhumb line denoting north.
Blue Fields, Jamaica
The map in the lower left quadrant features the port of Blue Fields, located in the west of the island. Blue Fields, built by the Spanish in the early 17th century, is one of the oldest settlements on the island. It was chosen for its protected anchorage and abundant fresh water. Following the conquest of the island by the British, the port’s importance waned, but the bay became popular with pirates. The map includes shoals and depth soundings in the bay, along with river systems that empty into the bay.
Kingston and Port Royal, Jamaica
The final map of the four, located in the lower right quadrant, shows both Kingston and Port Royal and their environs. The map is highly detailed, with river systems, topography indicated in hachures, and with shoals and shallows and depth soundings in the water. This final map of the four visually illustrates the perfect landscape of the area which served as such a trade hub for so long. This map also includes depth soundings and shoals, river systems which flow into the bays, and much topography of the area.
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