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AUCTION 22

 


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86.     BULLOCK, William. Six Months’ Residence and Travels in Mexico; Containing Remarks of the Present State of New Spain, Its Natural Productions, State of Society, Manufactures, Trade, Agriculture, and Antiquities, &c. With Plates and Maps. London: John Murray, 1824. [i-v] vi-xii, [1] 2-532 pp., 16 aquatint plates (folding frontispiece, and 4 costume plates with original hand coloring), 2 copper-engraved folding maps (lacks folding chart not enumerated in the list of plates and maps: Geographical Tables of the common Leagues of distance of Cities and Towns of the Empire of Mexico….). 8vo (22 x 14 cm), contemporary three-quarter straight-grain maroon sheep over marbled boards, spine gilt-lettered and with raised bands, marbled endpapers, marbled edges. Binding shelf worn (especially at corners and edges), scattered foxing (some heavy) to text and plates, offsetting to text from plates, a few short splits to folds of map of Ancient Mexico (no losses). This copy lacks the ads, not always present. Front flyleaf with ink ownership inscription and note of Bingham Richards dated June 25, 1824, indicating this is subscription copy 187. Bookplate of Texas oilman Frank Hadley, illustrated with oil wells.

     First edition of “perhaps the most interesting of the…books dealing with America” (Prideaux, Aquatint Engraving, p. 256). Abbey 666. Church 1326. Glass, p. 568. Griffin 3557. Gunn, Mexico in American and British Letters 632. Hill I, p. 39; II #214. Larned 3933. Mayer, Poblaciones mexicanas, planos y panoramas, siglos XVI al XIX, p. 120. McNeil, Europeans in Latin America 60. Palau 37059. Sabin 9140. Streeter Sale 210.

     Despite the importance and seriousness of his informative book, Bullock (fl. 1808-1828) was something of a showman, an aspect of his personality also present in this work. Before he arrived in Mexico in 1823, he already had a reputation in England as an exhibitor of curiosities, the viewing of which was popular at the time. Although part of the motivation for his trip to the country seems to have been genuine curiosity, he was moved just as surely by the desire to collect antiquities and other such materials for a planned exhibition of them in Egyptian Hall (pp. 435-436). Apparently to promote the sales of his work, he declared that aside from his book, he was “acquainted with no book of travels by an Englishman to [Mexico] since the period of Charles I.” Sabin, apparently believing this claim, states that Bullock was the first such traveler since Thomas Gage, apparently choosing to ignore the visits of such travelers as John Phillips, Pascoe Thomas, and George Vancouver, all of whom visited Mexico and left printed accounts of their travels.

     Whatever Bullock’s motivations, he managed to work his way into the good graces of numerous Mexican officials. He was quickly given possession of an actual silver mine and managed to separate the country from any number of artifacts, which he exhibited in London after his return. (Some of this material was eventually returned to Mexico.) He was particularly taken with Mexico City itself and described the city in the most glowing terms, stating that when he arrived near the center of the city, “I felt repaid for all the dangers and troubles I had undergone” (p. 124). His observations about the country were, indeed, the most contemporary to be had at the time, and the book was quickly translated into Dutch, German, and French. The considerable care he lavished on the illustrative materials in the book, mostly based on his own drawings, also have been repaid by posterity, which highly values them as beautiful and accurate depictions of Mexican life at the time.

     The handsome aquatint plates in this book make it not only important for nineteenth-century Mexican iconography, but also for plate books in general. The Plan of the City of Mexico was based on the celebrated map of Mexico City by Diego García Conde (1760-1822), a native of Barcelona, who came to Mexico and served as captain of the Spanish Dragoons in Mexico and supervised construction of the road from Veracruz to Jalapa. Dicc. Porrúa (p. 1156) specifically mentions García Conde’s map as a great achievement (“Su nombre está ligado a la historia de la cd. de México, por el magnífico plano que levantó de metrópoli en 1793”). The original map engraved in Mexico in 1807 is almost impossible to obtain because of its rarity and format (147.6 x 197.6 cm), with the only located copies at Bancroft Library, Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico, and the British Library. García Conde’s map, as found in Bullock’s book, is an alternative for acquiring an early version of the greatest nineteenth-century map of Mexico City. See Item 298 herein for a copy of the 1811 first English edition of the map.

($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $600.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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