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Maps, views and documents from 19 wars

Homann's Heirs (1724-1848)

Battle of Porto Bello, 1739

PORTUS PULCHRI, in Isthmo Panamensi siti accurata Ichnographia published 27 Mar 1740

Engraving and etching; printed below a map of Porto Bello, which is engraved from a separate copperplate, on the same sheet of paper; hand-coloured | Scale: 1:22,000 approx. | RCIN 728026

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A map and view of the Battle of Porto Bello, fought on 20-21 November 1739 between the British Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757), and the Spanish garrison, under the command of Francisco Javier de la Vega, which resulted in the British capturing the town. War with Spain (Jenkins's Ear) (1739-48); part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). Oriented with south-east to top (compass rose).

The title gives the date of the battle as the 22nd of November; however, the engagement was begun on the 20th and the town was taken on the 21st. The victory was popular with the British public, the Portobello Road in London being named after it, and George Washington's estate in Virginia being named in honour of the Admiral: Mount Vernon.

This map is based on a plan of Porto Bello by Lt Philip Durell was published in Traill, (1894-7), vol. IV, p.17. According to Charnock (1794-8), Captain James Rentone, by whom the drawing for this map was brought back to England, was employed by Vice Admiral Vernon because of his knowledge of the area. Vernon selected him to take the news of the victory back to London and he arrived on 13 March 1740. Vernon's dispatches included Philip Durell's manuscript map which appears to have been engraved and published in record time, the publication date being only seventeen days after the arrival of the map in London.

  • Homann's Heirs (1724-1848) (cartographer and publisher) [top, outside border, following on from title:] ex prototypo Londinensi desumta / prostat in Officina Homaniana. 1740. cum Privil. S. Caes. Majest. [bottom left, inside neatline:] Herausgegeben d. 27. Mart in London.

  • Watermark: A double-lined ‘4’ with double upright suspending a heart within which are the initials MHD

    Condition: one fold line. Verso: remains of former guard along central fold; induced discolouration

  • Scale: 1:22,000 approx. Scale bar: Maasstab von 2. Englischen Meilen. [148 mm =].

    20.6 x 28.3 cm (neatline of map)

    22.9 x 27.9 cm (neatline of view)

    24.0 x 28.8 cm (image of map)

    23.8 x 28.1 cm (image of view)

    25.0 x 29.9 cm (platemark of map)

    25.0 x 29.9 cm (platemark of view)

    54.1 x 31.7 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title:

    PORTUS PULCHRI, in Isthmo Panamensi siti accurata Ichnographia [top of map, outside border]

    Printed title:

    Scenographia Portus pulchri [top of view, outside border]

    Additional text:

    Dieser Grund Riss von dem Hafen, / der Stadt u. den Forten von / Porto belo / .... [bottom left of map, in rectangular panel, a German translation of a note by James Rentone; begins] Zeichen Erklaerung [bottom, in rectangular panel below map, a key, A-I, K-P:]; [bottom right, inside neatline, a note on the soundings.]; Perspectivische Vorstellung des Hafens, Castels u. der Stadt / Porto belo. [Bottom right of view, in rectangular panel, a key, A-F, H-I, K-M, O-Q, and a brief description of the action:]


    George III heading: Porto Belo 22 Nov.r 1739. Other annotations: none.

    George III catalogue entry:

    Porto Belo Plan and View of Porto Belo taken by Admiral Vernon on the 22.d of Nov.r 1739, copied from Durell's Plan: published by the Heirs of Homann.

  • Probably from the collection of military and naval maps and prints formed by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), third son of George II; subsequently acquired by George III (1738-1820)

  • Subject(s)

    Portobelo, Colón, Panama (09°33'00"N 79°39'00"W)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    R. Harding, ‘Vernon, Edward (1684–1757)’, Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, online edn 2008

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