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AUCTION 20

With the English Edition of Humboldt’s Epochal Map of New Spain

32. HUMBOLDT, Alexander von. Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain. Containing Researches Relative to the Geography of Mexico, the Extent of its Surface and its Political Division into Intendancies, the Physical Aspect of the Country, the Population, the State of Agriculture and Manufacturing and Commercial Industry; the Canals Projected between the South Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Crown Revenues, the Quantity of the Precious Metals which Have Flowed from Mexico into Europe and Asia, since the Discovery of the New Continent, and the Military Defence of New Spain. By Alexander de Humboldt. With Physical Sections and Maps, Founded on Astronomical Observations, and Trigonometrical and Barometrical Measurements. Translated from the Original French, By John Black...Third Edition [Vols. 3 and 4 without edition statement]. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row, 1822. Vol. I: xx, cxlv [1 blank], 290 pp.; Vol. II: [2], 484 pp.; Vol. III: [6], 493 [1 blank] pp.; Vol. IV: [2], 374, [99 index] [1 blank] pp., 13 engraved maps on 6 sheets, 3 engraved profiles, 4 engraved charts on 1 sheet, 2 aquatints on sepia ground (snow-covered volcanoes erupting). 4 vols., 8vo, new half dark brown leather over tan marbled boards. Mild to moderate foxing and browning, two maps with short tears (no losses) at juncture with book block.

Map & plate list:

Maps:

[8 maps on one sheet]: Points of Separation and Projected Communications between the South Sea and Atlantic Ocean. I. River of Peace and Tacoutche Tesse [Fraser River area in British Columbia]. II. Rio del Norte and Rio Colorado [New Mexico-Arizona and north, including El Paso and West Texas labelled “Unknown Country”]. III. Rio Huallaga and Rio Huanuco [Peru]. IV. Gulph of S. Georges and Estero de Aysen [Tierra del Fuego, Chile, and Patagonia]. V. Rio Huasacualco and Rio de Chimalapa [Gulf of Mexico to Tehuantepec Gulf]. VI. Lake of Nicaragua. VII. Isthmus of Darien [Bay of Panama to Atlantic Ocean]. VIII. Ravin de la Raspadura and Embarcadero de Naipi [Bay of Panama to Boca de Charambira showing the province of Choco in Colombia]. [below lower neat line, at right] Engraved by W. Lowry. Sheet size: 45.5 x 32.4 cm.

A Map of New Spain from 16°. to 38°. North Latitude Reduced from the Large Map Drawn from Astronomical Observations at Mexico in the Year 1804, by Alexandre de Humboldt, and Comprehending the Whole of the Information Contained in the Original Map, Except the Heights of the Mountains. [below lower neat line] Alex. Macpherson, Del. | Published as the Act Directs, Oct. 25, 1810, by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row | Cooper Sculp. Neat line to neat line: 41.5 x 29 cm.

Map of the Different Channels by Which the Precious Metals Flow from the One Continent to the Other. [lower right below neat line] Engraved by W. Lowry. Neat line to neat line: 16.3 x 31.5 cm.

Map of the Valley of Mexico and Neighbouring Mountains Sketched on the Spot in 1804, by Don Louis Martin, and New Modelled and Corrected in 1807 from the Trigonometrical Operations of Don Joaquin Velasquez, and the Astronomical Observations, and Barometrical Measurements of M. de Humboldt by Jabbo Oltmann. [below lower neat line]: Published by Longman & Co. Oct. 22, 1810 | Wilson Lowry Sculp. Neat line to neat line: 20.5 x 26.7 cm.

Plan of the Port of Veracruz.... [below lower neat line]: Published by Longman & Co. Oct. 15th, 1810 | Lowry Sc. Neat line to neat line: 20.5 x 25.5 cm.

Plan of the Port of Acapulco. [below lower neat line]: Published by Longman & Co. Oct. 15th, 1810 | Lowry Sculp. Neat line to neat line: 19.5 x 12 cm.

Profiles:

Physical Section of the Eastern Declivity of the Table Land of New Spain (Road from Mexico to Vera Cruz by Puebla & Xalapa) Drawn up from Barometrical & Trigonometrical Measurement in 1804, by M. de Humboldt. [lower right] Engraved by Wilson Lowry. Sheet size: 21.5 x 54 cm.

Physical Section of the Western Declivity of the Table Land of New Spain. (Road from Mexico to Acapulco) Drawn up from Barometrical Measurement in 1803, by M. de Humboldt. [lower right] Engraved by W. Lowry. Sheet size: 21.5 x 54 cm.

Section of the Central Table Land of Mexico, between the 19 and 21o. of North Latitude. (Road from Guanaxuato) Drawn up from Barometrical Measurement by M. de Humboldt. [lower right] Engraved by Wilson Lowry. Sheet size: 21.5 x 54 cm.

Charts:

Sheet with 4 engraved charts: Produce of the Mines of America since Its Discovery; Proportion in Which Gold & Silver Is Produced in the Different Parts of America; Quantity of Gold & Silver Extracted from the Mines of Mexico; Proportion in Which Silver is Produced in the Different Parts of the World. [lower right] Engraved by W. Lowry. Sheet size: 28 x 32.5 cm.

Plates:

Peak of Orizaba, seen from the forest of Xalapa [below title] A. Humboldt & F. Gmelin del. | London: Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Paternoster-Row Septr. 20th. 1810. | J. C. Stadler, sculpt. Image size including title and imprint: 11.1 x 16.3 cm.

Volcanos of la Puebla, Seen from the City of Mexico [below title] Lud Martin & Fr. Gmelin del. | London: Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Paternoster-Row Septr. 20th. 1810. | J. C. Stadler, sculpt. Image size including title and imprint: 11.1 x 16.3 cm.

     Third British edition, preceded by London editions in 1811 and 1814; there was also a New York edition in 1811. The exceedingly rare first edition was in German and came out in Tübingen 1808-1814. An edition in French was published at Paris 1810-11 (though not so rare as the German edition, the Paris edition is very scarce and costly). Cowan II, p. 196 (citing London 1811 edition). Howes H786: “Of superlative California importance.” Palau 116977n. Plains & Rockies IV:7a:9 (calling for 10 maps, profiles, plates). Pilling 1876A (citing linguistics). Sabin 33715 (states London editions are all alike, but collations differ). Humboldt’s work provided the most comprehensive survey of the mineral resources of New Spain at a time when Mexico was first in silver production. This aspect of the work resulted in a demand for translations and many editions.

     For more on Humboldt’s epochal map of New Spain, which appears here in reduced format from the original, see: Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 100-101. Martin & Martin 23. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, pp. 225-227n: “Pike’s map...was plagiarized directly from Humboldt... Humboldt, through Pike’s map, reproduced for the first time in printed form the geographical features discovered by Spanish exploring parties that had reached as far north as present-day Utah.... Humboldt’s map remained the standard map of the Great Basin region until Fremont’s expeditions 35 years later.” Streeter 1042 (rating Humboldt’s map as one of the six most important maps relating to Texas). Taliaferro, p. 13: “Humboldt acknowledged, for example, that on his...map of New Spain, 1809, he altered the configuration given by the Carta Esférica of 1799 in accordance with ‘a manuscript map which General Wilkinson communicated to me at Washington, on his return from Louisiana.’” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, pp. 273 & 132ff: “[A] truly magnificent cartographic achievement...by the celebrated savant Baron Alexander von Humboldt...drawn in Mexico City in 1803... For the area of the American West which it included, it was undoubtedly the most important and most accurate published map that had yet appeared.”

     Of Humboldt’s body of work, Printing and the Mind of Man (320) comments: “[Humboldt] laid the foundation of modern physical geography, meteorology and geography of plants.” Humboldt’s present work on New Spain constitutes the first modern geographical monograph on Mexico and the Southwest U.S., containing data assembled during the author’s visit to Mexico at the end of the eighteenth century. Much of this information had never before appeared in print. Humboldt also presents a very early, serious proposal for an inter-oceanic canal, accompanied by maps of possible routes. ($600-1,200)

Sold. Hammer: $700.00; Price Realized: $822.50

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