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AUCTION 22

 

Statistics on New Spain, including Texas, California & New Mexico


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231.     [HUMBOLDT, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von (after)]. Idea estadística y geográfica del reyno de Nueva España precedida de una descripción general de la America traducción del francés por M.B. Guadalajara: Imprenta del cuidadano Urbano Sanromán, 1823. [4], 1-118, [1] 2-7 [1, blank] pp. Small 4to (20.5 x 14 cm), full contemporary mottled Mexican sheep, spine ruled in gilt and with tan leather label lettered in gilt, sprinkled edges. Binding moderately worn and with waterstaining on lower cover. Right blank margin of title and lower blank margin of last few leaves stained, otherwise very good. Faded manuscript inscription on front free endpaper. Very rare First Mexican Empire imprint.

     First Mexican edition. Catálogo de la colección Biblioteca Manuel Arango Arias R174 (p. 105). Palau 117889. According to the anonymous translator, this work is based on a text written in Paris in 1814 and published in 1817, although that text has never been positively identified. The author drew upon Humboldt (see preceding entry herein), whom he cites several times, but clearly was familiar with many other sources, including those that ranged far beyond Humboldt’s scope. Scholar Elías Trabulse, on the other hand, believes this work to be based on Humboldt’s Essai politique sur le royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne, an opinion also shared by Dr. W. Michael Mathes, who further suggests that the work may have been extracted by historian, savant, and liberal political activist, Carlos María Bustamante (1774-1848; see Dicc. Porrúa and Eladio Cortés, Dictionary of Mexican Literature, Greenwood Press, 1992), pp. 102-103.

     The study, after considering North America in general, discusses Mexico and the Southwest, including physical geography, agriculture, manufacturing, industry, revenue, mines and mining, revenue, military defenses, and Native American population. Each intendancy and province of Mexico is described, including the extent of each region’s territory, resources, and leading towns. Of special Southwest interest are contemporary statistics and conditions for California, New Mexico, and Texas. Like many writers of the time, the author also speculates at some length on the origin of North American Natives. The text offers many interesting details, such as the use of dogs as draft animals by the Comanche: “Los Comanches que son los indigenas mas teribles, igualan à los Tartaros en lo rapido de sus incursiones à caballo: se sirven de los perros como de bestias de carga” (pp. 83-84). The Province of Texas is described as a fertile and deserted land on the frontier, coveted by Anglo Americans, its capitol a humble outpost: “San Antonio de Béjar, ciudad compuesta de cabañas de tierra, cubiertas de ciudad, es la capital de la Provincia de Tejas, tan codiciada por los Anglo-americanos, y ha recibido oficialmente el nombre de Nueva Estremadura” (p. 84).

     California, New Mexico, and Pimería are discussed on pp. 75-82, including the missions and presidios of California, its diverse Native population and its resources. The section on Baja California describes the quality of the land which, seemingly barren under dry conditions, is transformed to fertility with water. It also comments on viticulture, the pearl fishery, mining, and Jesuit missions and their extension to Upper California in 1769. The section on New Mexico, designated as the land between California and Louisiana, presents population statistics (4,000 in Santa Fe; 9,000 in Taos; 6,000 in “Albarquerque”), buffalo hunting by Anglo Americans, Native Americans (Navajo, Apache, Hopi, and other tribes), El Paso, and San Elizario.

     Publisher and printer Sanromán was an important figure in Guadalajara, both for his printing activities and his political connections. He is generally said to be the first printer of any political importance in the region. See Items 230 & 315 herein.

($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $900.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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