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Auction 12: The Zamorano 80 Collection of Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lot 34

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Item 34. Engelhart’s Missions and Missionaries of the California—“The first history of the Californias to recognize the continuity of historical evolution from peninsular California to the irreplaceable source” (Mathes).

34. ENGELHARDT, Zephyrin (1851-1934). The Missions and Missionaries of California. San Francisco: James H. Barry Company, 1908-1912-1913-1915-1916. xxii, 654 + xlvi [2] 682 + xviii, 663 + xxvii [1] 817 + [8] 186 pp., frontispieces, plates (halftones, views, portraits), maps (including 3 folding), 2 folding charts, text illustrations (some full-page), facsimiles, tipped-in errata slip. 5 vols., 8vo, original brown cloth, gilt-lettered spines. Other than minor shelf wear, very fine, with bookplates of R. J. A. Boreman and Dr. Roger K. Larson.
First edition. Barrett, Baja California 785. Cowan I, p. 79n (citing the one-volume precursor to this work and mentioning Engelhardt’s forthcoming larger study). Cowan II, p. 196. Holliday 345. Howell 50, California 453. Howes E154. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 34. Norris 1024: “Complete sets are difficult to procure. Vol. 3 has been out of print for many years.” Weber, The California Missions, p. 33. Zamorano 80 #34 (Phil Townsend Hanna): “Contains much valuable and fugitive minutiae not to be found elsewhere, and when Father Zephyrin pursues Bancroft (q.v.), (never particularly friendly to the Church or the missionaries) some sparkling passages result.” (5 vols.) ($300-600)


In 1833, the Franciscan missions of Alta California had been secularized, with their churches converted into parishes and lands distributed among favored Mexican residents. Only in the relatively settled areas of San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Bárbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego did the mission churches somewhat survive as parish churches, but most were abandoned and, with the passage of time, fell into ruin. Following the Gold Rush, the creation of the Diocese of Monterey, and the incorporation of California as a state of the Union, President Abraham Lincoln formally restored most of the mission churches to the Church, and new immigration from the eastern United States increased an interest in the still mysterious and increasingly romantic Spanish past. In the decade of the 1880s Hubert Howe Bancroft (q.v.) and Theodore Hittell (q.v.) produced detailed histories of California, and public interest in the ruined missions and their conservation began to grow. Nevertheless, a detailed, comprehensive history of the missions of the Californias remained to be published. Nineteenth-century U.S. historians, their excellent methodology notwithstanding, were generally Protestant and the product of several waves of anti-Catholicism evident in the century as well as anti-Spanish propaganda generated in the Anglo-American world and, therefore, at best marginally informed as to Catholic philosophy, theology, and liturgy, and the nature of the California missions.
Following a tradition established by the Franciscan Order in the fourteenth century, Father Zephyrin Engelhardt dedicated over four decades to historical research and writing the chronicle of his order in the Californias. In so doing, he produced the first history of the Californias to recognize the continuity of historical evolution from peninsular California to the north—from Cabo San Lucas to Sonoma. Although his interest in this history was related to his own religious order, his first volume is not only devoted to the missionary antecedents of the Society of Jesus, but also to the labors of the successors to the Franciscans in Baja California, the Dominicans, from their arrival in 1773 to the death of the final member of their order, Fray Gabriel González, in 1855. The remaining four volumes chronicle the Franciscan enterprise in Alta California from 1768 to 1834 in extraordinary detail.
The absurd criticisms of Engelhardt’s work because of his piety and religiosity demonstrates the ignorance of those critics. Any reasonable scholar can easily separate pious comments from historical facts, and the latter are what make this work extraordinary. In 1897 in Minnesota, he published his 516 page work, The Franciscans in California, the preliminary study to his great history which was expanded to five volumes appearing between 1908 and 1916, and a somewhat difficult to collate second edition between 1912 and 1929. As had various researchers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Engelhardt enjoyed access to the California Archives destroyed during the disastrous earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. This means that Engelhardt’s work contains information no longer available to researchers, and thus makes it an irreplaceable source.
Following the publication of his five-volume work, Engelhardt initiated publication of scholarly monographs on the individual missions of Alta California. Prior to his death in 1934, in the preceding fourteen years he published sixteen volumes on San Diego, San Luis Rey, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Bárbara, San Francisco, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Antonio de Padua, San Miguel Arcángel, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, San Buenaventura, San Juan Bautista, Santa Inés, La Purísima, San Luis Obispo, and San Carlos Borromeo.
Although several scholars of the California missions have augmented the work of Engelhardt in regard to some of the missions, this monumental publication remains as the cornerstone history of the California missions, indispensable to any research in the field.

—W. Michael Mathes

Item 34. Map of The Old Franciscan Missions in California in Englehardt’s Missions and Missionaries of California.

Item 34. Plate of the First Baptism in Upper California in Englehardt’s Missions and Missionaries of California.

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