World Chart


de la Cosa, Juan


Juan de la Cosa's World Chart on oxhide is the oldest existing chart or map to show the New World even though at that time it was not known whether it was a new world or Asia. The numerous placenames on the coast of South America and the West Indies were the result of Juan de la Cosa's voyage with Columbus in 1492 and his later voyages in the area with Ojeda and Vespucci. The placenames and English flags along the North American coast are recognition of John Cabot's voyage and discoveries in that area. The most important aspects of this chart in regard to the mapping of Florida are the detailed images of Hispanola and the hook-shaped Cuba. No one doubts that these were fairly accurately positioned depictions of these islands. Further maps and charts continued these general shapes and positions even though the name of Cuba was later shown as Isabella by Vincent Yanez Pinzon and Juan Diaz de Solles, who were the first to officially circumnavigate the island in 1508. No peninsula or name or land mass even faintly resembling Florida is on this chart. However, the fairly accurate depiction of Cuba and Hispanola and the continuation of these designated islands is crucial to the identification of a peninsula northwest of Cuba (Isabella) appearing on subsequent charts and maps. This chart is in the Maritime Museum in Madrid, Spain.


Image scanned from a reproduction in a private collection.

References: Schwartz and Ehrenburg (2001), Burden (1996).

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