Real Escuela de Navegacion

Early Manuscript plan of Cienfuegos Bay (Puerto de Jagua)

Plano del Puerto de Jagua cituado en la costa del S. de la ysla de la Havana en la latd. N. de 21° 051' y en longd. de 294° 054' segn. Tenerife.

DESCRIPTION: Pen and ink manuscript port plan of the Bahia de Cienfuegos, Cuba dating to the first half of the 18th century: "Puerto de Jagua". This is the earliest available manuscript plan of that important bay on the south coast of Cuba and is a near perfect copy of a map held in the Library of Congress ( The existence of multiple manuscript copies of the same chart is explained by the fact that the chart was produced by the Real Escuela de Navegación in Cadiz, whose role was to ensure the accuracy and consistency of maps produced for naval and commercial shipping and to house the growing record of maps and charts related to Spain's vast empire. Copyists at the school would have reproduced numerous identical copies by hand for distribution to military and commerical maritime users. During this time period few maps of Spain's New World possessions were reproduced by printing press, presumeably in order to limit their distribution. Spain's jealous secrecy over their colonial possessions is well documented.

The title and key are located within a frame at lower left; the chart shows coastline, coastal features, soundings, navigational hazards, an anchorage, a few buildings, roads, and streams.

Dating the map depends chiefly on its depiction of the location marked "B"- "lomas estrecho de la entrada" (Translated: Hilly narrow entrance). This site would later become the site of a fort or Castillo (Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua) founded in 1745. On this chart, the fact that no mention is made of any structure suggests the map dates to before 1733 when construction on the fort began. On a later manuscript version for example that spot is defined as "es donde esta el Castillo, que es donde estaba la Bateria de ?[Fagina] (Translated: Where the castle is, which is where the Battery of ?? was.")

Note: "jagua" may be translated from Spanish as "Fruit of the custard-apple."

CREATOR: Real Escuela de Navegacion



BODY OF WATER: Bay of Cienfuegos

CONDITION: Good.  No major condition issues.

COLORING: Manuscript pen and ink manuscript chart with green wash coloring and some pink highlights.


SIZE: 20 " x 13 "


PRICE: $5000


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