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Auction 14: Americana

Lots 25 & 26: Central America & Mexico

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25. GUATEMALA. Collection consisting of 103 printed items (three of which are duplicates) almost all documenting 1840, a crucial year in Guatemala’s history. The collection was at one point bound, apparently all in a single volume. Each item shows remains of identical adhesive and sawing at the left margin, and some have stab holes and other minor defects remaining (upper right blank quadrant of leaves with very mild to moderate waterstaining). Because the items were never trimmed, the margins are generous and the physical defects noted above are normally not into the text. In most cases, a simple, professional washing would restore the items to excellent condition.

    A significant event in Guatemala during 1840 was the invasion of the country by an El Salvadoran army led by Francisco Morazán, who succeeded in briefly occupying Guatemala City itself before being expelled on March 18-19 in a battle that lasted almost twenty-four hours. The hero of the hour was Guatemalan General Rafael Carrera, who led his troops in the successful battle. Several of the documents deal with this siege, including an order conscripting all able-bodied men in the city, an important listing of documents captured from Morazán, two contemporary accounts of the battle (one by Carrera himself), and various congratulatory addresses and laws after the victory. Another significant event was the conquest in January of Los Altos by a Guatemalan army, again led by Carrera. Among the important publications relating to that event is the act formally extending Guatemalan jurisdiction into Los Altos.
    Despite the military upheavals of 1840, life in Guatemala had other dimensions. Included in the collection are important laws founding economic and medical societies, concerning the circulation of money, regulating marriage and divorce, and controlling passports. Carrera himself issued several proclamations to the public at large expounding on such matters as his political and religious beliefs. The threat of armed intervention from menacing European powers is discussed in several of the items. The rhythms of everyday life are reflected in two theater announcements, a law governing gambling, another ordering construction of jails, an invitation to a school examination, and an invitation to a funeral. Also present are several poems on both religious and secular subjects.
    The great strength of the collection is the fact that almost all the documents date from the single year of 1840, thereby offering a substantial window on that one year in Guatemalan history. Events throughout the year, both great and small, are covered, with most of the important ones represented by several documents. The large number of laws present allows a researcher to mirror the legislative activity against the common life that most Guatemalans lived. The pieces in the collection are all rare, and we have been unable to trace any other copies of them. Indeed, most large research institutions with Central American holdings seem to lack such a printed collection for this year–or any year, for that matter. Most such holdings are scattered pieces from various decades, lacking the coherence present in this collection, or reprints of laws done after the laws were originally printed immediately upon passage, the latter being the form in which they are found here. Some of the ephemeral items here are addressed in manuscript to Carlos Klee, an important Guatemalan businessman of the time whose business dynasty is still active today. The collection is housed in conservation-grade Mylar sleeves. A detailed description can be viewed by clicking on this link: Details on the Guatemala History Collection.

Examples from the collection include:

CARRERA, Rafael. Parte circunstanciado de la acción de los dias 18 y 19. de Marzo, que ha sido dirigido al Gobierno por el General en Gefe del Ejército del Estado.... [Guatemala]: Imprenta del Gobierno, à cargo de A. España, [1840]. [4] pp., folio. Signed and dated in type Rafael Carrera, Guatemala, 23 March 1840. A detailed account, including casualty lists, of his defeat of Morazán at Guatemala City, March 18-19, 1840.

Colección de algunos de los interesantes documentos que se encontraron en los equipajes tomados en la acción de los dias 18. Y 19. de marzo. [Guatemala]: Imprenta del Gobierno, à cargo de A. España, [1840]. [14] pp., folio. An important public revelation of secret military and political documents found in the camp of Francisco Morazán after his March defeat at Guatemala City by Carrera, who forced him to evacuate the city after he laid siege to it. Includes orders and letters between Morazán and Trinidad Cabañas, his second in command, some of which were written in invisible ink (i.e., lemon juice), and one concerning income from the Honduras logging industry. Although more issues were promised as forthcoming, it is not known if more were published.

YORKSHIRE & LANCASHIRE CENTRAL AMERICAN LAND & EMIGRATION COMPANY. Prospectus. London: W. Moore, [1838?]. [4] pp., folio. Proposals for potential colonists to emigrate to the Company’s lands in Central America, including two settlements named Oswald Town and Parkins’ Town.

26. HAMILTON, Leonidas [Le Cenci]. Border States of Mexico: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango. With a General Sketch of the Republic of Mexico, and Lower California, Coahuila, New León and Tamaulipas. A Complete Description of the Best Regions for the Settler, Miner and Advance Guard of American Civilization.... A Complete Guide for Travelers and Emigrants. San Francisco: Bacon & Company [Engraved and Printed by M. Schmidt], 1881. [2] 162, vii (appendix), [5, ads] [1, engraver’s symbol] pp., 2 folded lithographed maps: (1) Untitled map of the borderlands, Mexico, and Central America, showing railroads and with text below commencing: This map is published with the permission of the San Francisco “Journal of Commerce”... 43.1 x 49.5 cm (16-7/8 x 19-1/2 inches); (2) Map of the Central Pacific Railroad, Southern Pacific Railroad and Connections. 1881... 16.7 x 26.7 cm (6-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches), showing the Southwest and borderlands, shading in blue and U.S. railroad routes in red, verso with stage and railroad schedule. 8vo, original grey printed wrappers bound in modern red Library of Congress cloth. Wrappers reattached and moderately soiled, delicate uncolored map detached and in two pieces (with small losses; needs immediate conservation). Some repairs to splits and tears to the friable wrappers and text. A Library of Congress copyright deposit copy with the usual accession and deaccession markings.
    First edition. Cf. Barrett, Baja California 1116 (lists the second edition–San Francisco: Bacon & Co., 1881; 211 pp., 1 folding map–and noting a third edition at Chicago in 1881 and a fourth at New York in 1883). Palau 112119 (con un mapa plegado y dos láminas). There is but sparse bibliographical treatment of this title; this copy agrees with the other copyright deposit copy still at the Library of Congress.
    This singular and rare borderlands work was written by a San Francisco attorney to guide those wishing to engage in “mining, agriculture, or stock-raising; or for persons desiring of making profitable investments” (p. [1]). Hamilton provides extensive coverage of mining operations and financial possibilities in the Mexican border states. Some idea of Hamilton’s general tone may be sensed from his commentary on duties and customs: “The consignee appropriates to himself one-half of the custom-house dues; one-fourth goes to the custom-house officers, and one-fourth to the government; and then, to complete the climax of shrewd maneuvering, the consignee charges the whole import duties to the home merchant, or shipper. This, in Mexico, is called ‘Yankee Wiring,’ or ‘Intriga de Estados Unidos.’”
    Hamilton wrote several works concerning American investment and speculation in Mexico’s mining operations. The text here formed the basis for his expanded 1883 Hamilton’s Mexican Handbook. Inside the front wrapper of the present work is an excellent full-page engraving of a busy street scene featuring the San Francisco Chronicle building. The inside of the lower wrapper announces the author’s forthcoming publications, including Restrictive Land Laws Against American Citizens Acquiring Real Estate in Any of the Border States of Mexico, in Spanish and English, and a complete map of Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Durango (from the latest official French and Mexican surveys). The author also published a translation of the Gilgamesh epic (1884), which filled in some blanks of that saga. For more on printer Max Schmidt, see Peters, California on Stone, pp. 187-188.

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