This map is entitled a new chart of the Bahama Islands and the Windward Passage. Well, this “new” chart, it was actually done in 1749, but at the time it was a contribution to one’s understanding of that portion of the Caribbean, lower Florida, and the Bahamas themselves. One of the distinctive features of the map is its depiction of two areas that are not in fact above water. One being the Bahama Bank and the other being the Grand Bahama Bank and, as the map shows, those relatively shallow areas surround the Bahamas. The shallowness of those banks provide for lots of good fishing, they also over time provided lots of ways in which ships could and did run aground. Cuba is at the very center of the map, Jamaica below it and off to the right a portion of Hispaniola. The entire map is full of rhumb lines, which were very useful to navigators and helped them lay out courses using one portion of a rhumb line and then another in order to get from A to B. There’s a beautiful compass rose and lots of color in what is I think a most soft and attractive map of that part of the world.
This map is a map of the then-settlement of Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola. And one can see the fairly orderly center of the town, surrounded by various gardens and other human activity. One of the features that I like particularly is this nondescript sea monster, looks a little bit more like a salamander. A giant salamander, as big as any of the ships in the fleet, swimming alongside, heading toward the fleet. This is a good example of the woodcut technique and a very early 16th-century map of that settlement.
This map is a very early 16th-century rendering of the island of Hispaniola. It’s a little misleading because a discussion of Jamaica appears at the bottom that would continue on to the next page where the map of Jamaica would appear. But this is Hispaniola, and you’ll see an effort to render a town on the island called Isabella. Bordon was operating with very little information here, and so one can’t really see very much of the actual outline of the island of Hispaniola, which of course now includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, here again was an early, early mapmaker doing his best and creating what is at least a very interesting rendering.