One of the Most Unusual Books
Printed in North America in the Eighteenth Century
“A tour de force of graphic arts”

Salva’s Superb Copy of Missa Gothica seù Mozarabica

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82. CATHOLIC CHURCH. MISSAL (Mozarabic). Missa Gothica seù Mozarabica, et officium itidèm Gothicum diligentèr ac dilucidè explanata ad usum percelebris Mozárabum sacelli Toleti á munificentissimo Cardinali Ximenio erecti; et in obsequium illmi. perindè ac venerab. D. Decani et Capituli sanctae ecclesiae Toletanae, Hispaniarum et Indiarum primátis. Angelopoli: Typus Seminarii Palafoxiana Anno Domini MDCCLXX. Puebla de los Angeles: Typis Seminarii Palafoxiani Anno Domini, 1770. 2 parts in one vol.: [1-7 (1, blank)], [1] 2-137 [1, blank]; [1, caption title: Horæ minores diurnæ Breviarii Mozárabici, juxta regulam beati Isidori archiepiscopi Hispalensis Hispaniarum doctoris] 2-198 pp. (pages 133-135 in 2nd sequence incorrectly numbered 223-235), titles and majority of text printed in red and black, second part printed in double columns, 3 full-page copper-engraved plates pasted onto blank pages), half-page engraving after title, 3 smaller text engravings of music in neumic and plainsong notation on pages 69 and 72 of 2nd sequence, head- and tail-pieces and initials, occasional type ornamentation. Small folio (30 x 19.5 cm), original Mexican binding in full chestnut calf, the nearly flat spine gilt tooled and divided into compartments by narrow foliate rolls within which are crowned shields, sides panelled in gilt and with a broad border of gilt floral tools along margins, central medallions on upper and lower covers with scene surrounded by radiating flowers (shown are three figures beneath a crown, winged figure standing at left before whom another kneels in the middle, and at right is an enthroned figure; the figures on left and right appear to be placing a pallium on the kneeling figure), spine label of terracotta calf with title lettered in gilt, endpapers of glazed paste paper decorated with red and green floral motifs on ecru ground, a.e.g. Except for a bit of light marginal staining to edges of title (from binding), a bright, beautiful example in a handsome binding. The Salvá copy, with his red morocco gilt book labels on front and rear pastedowns. The Salvá library was founded by Vicente Salvá y Pérez (1780-1849), philologist and book collector, whose 1846 Diccionario is said to contain the first entry in a dictionary for the term “gringo.”


[1] [Coat of arms Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros and two scenes below; untitled image within ornate shell-work frame]. Below image at left and right: Jphus. Nava sc. | Angelopoli. Half-page engraving. Page [3], first part. Plate mark: 18.8 x 15.6 cm.

[2] Liber uterque in ignem proiecti | Romanus ex igne procedit | Gothicus sub flammis illaesus [below image at right] Jphus. Nava sc Angelopoli. Full-page engraving. Page [8], first part. Plate mark: 23.6 x 16 cm.Portrays the dramatic book burning scene after Gregory VII (A.D. 1073-1085) abolished use of the Mozarabic or Spanish missal, and decreed that the Roman be introduced in its place. Resistance was strong in Toledo, and the final test was to throw both missals into a fire, whereupon the Roman missals flew from the fire and the Mozarabic remained in the fire unscathed. That is the scene shown, which is “The Trial by Fire.”

[3] [Christ on the Cross with city view in background and skull and bones at the foot of the Cross]. Below untitled image, at lower right: Jphus. Nava sc. & exc. Angelopoli. Full-page engraving. Page [52], second part. Plate mark: 24.5 x 17 cm.

[4-6] Three unsigned smaller text engravings of music. Pages 69 & 72. Each approximately 11.5 x 15.5 cm. Two of the text engravings contain Arabic characters.

[7] Joannes Ruizius ex familiar Matancia, pro Oficio, vicit [below image at right] Jphus. Nava sc. Angelopoli. Full-page engraving. Page [138], second part. Plate mark: 23.6 x 16 cm. Dynamic image depicting combat between two horsemen, during which Johannes Ruizius (Archpriest of Hiba) conquers on the side of the Gothic rite. In the background are architecture, mountains, and bystanders viewing the contest. This is “The Trial by Combat.”

     First edition of a monument of colonial Mexican book printing and engraving. Bibliotheca Mejicana 1146: “This edition presents a pure text of the most ancient service book extant.” Heredia, Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de Ricardo Heredia 3580 (this copy). Jones, Adventures in Americana 179. Jones, Checklist 537. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 200. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 200; (1878) 1204. Medina, Puebla de los Angeles 864. Palau 172923. Paul et fils & Guillemin, Catalogue de livres espagnols, rares et précieux, (Theology Section) 1 (this copy): “Bel exemplaire de Salvá-Heredia, dans sa reliure originale faite au Mexique.” Pearson & Co., One Hundred and Eighty-Eight Manuscripts, Bindings, Books and Autograph Letters including the Magnificent Calvillo Pontifical 125. Porrúa Catalogue 5 (1949) 7566. Riaño, Critical & Bibliographical Notes on Early Spanish Music, pp. 138-141: “This volume is extremely rare. Page 79 gives an explanation of the Muzarabic notes which are used in music.... This study, and one by D’Jeronimo Romero, are the only two which have come to my knowledge, made in the XVIIth century, to interpret this music; they always must serve as a foundation for modern studies on this subject, for they are based on the traditions of the Cathedral of Toledo.” Sabin 49459. Salvá 3948 (calling for 2 plates, in error): “Edición muy rara.” Stevens, Bibliotheca Americana 1505. See also: Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, pp. 510-516. L.S. Thompson, “Book Illustration in Colonial Latin America” in Book Illustration: Papers Presented at the Third Rare Book Conference of the American Library Association in 1962 (edited by F.J. Brewer), Berlin, 1963.

     Johnson, The Book in the Americas: The Role of Books & Printing in the Development of Culture & Society in Colonial Latin America 27: “Among the earliest imprints of the Real Seminario Palafoxiana of Puebla is the Missa Góthica, a tour de force of graphic arts.... The work is notable for its beautiful red and black title page and for its five extraordinarily fine copper engravings.... Apart from its physical beauty, this book is of historical interest as one of the few surviving texts of this rare and restricted rite of the Mass.”

     Two of the plates represent the conflict between the Mozarabic and Roman rites as “Trial by Fire” and “Trial by Combat,” which graphically demonstrate the “Mozarabic” rite’s struggle for survival. The rite used by the Christians of Spain in the part of the country occupied by the Moors was firmly cemented in the populace by the time Toledo was reoccupied in 1085 A.D. The Mozarabic Christians refused to surrender their form of worship in favor of the Roman form, and after much debate, and even intrigue, the Mozarabic form survived, as embodied here. It is used to this day on certain occasions, but only in Toledo. Dedicatee Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros was instrumental in reviving the rite and preventing it from going into extinction.

The plates were executed by José de Nava, one of the finest engravers of his time. Mathes describes Nava as “extraordinary” (La Ilustración en México colonial, p. 125) and goes on to say (pp. 127-128): “In Puebla, one of the most talented artists and skilled engravers of his time in the Old World and the New, José de Nava, initiated his career. Nava, born about 1735, created and produced plates, most of which were signed, with unusual rapidity and highest quality and workmanship during a long career ended by his death in Puebla on 12 May 1817.... What could well be considered the pinnacle of his career, however, was reached in 1770 with extraordinarily beautiful arms of Cardinal Francisco Ximínez de Cisneros, an allegory of the burning of books by Moslems, mounted horsemen in Saracen garb, a magnificent Crucifixion, and music for the Missa gothica seú mozarabica, et officium itidem gothicum published by the archbishop of Mexico, Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, and printed by the Seminario Palafoxiano.”


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