Copyright 2000- by Dorothy Sloan-Rare Books Inc. for all materials on this site. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
78. VENEGAS, Miguel (1680-1764). Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. Sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en Mexico año de 1739.... Madrid: Viuda de Manuel Fernández, y del Supremo Consejo de la Inquisición, 1757.  240 +  564 +  436 pp., engraved head- and tailpieces in text, 4 copper-engraved folding maps [see list of maps below]. 3 vols., small 4to, original limp vellum, spines with original manuscript lettering and ornamentation in sepia ink (a few remains of original rawhide ties). Other than a bit of minor foxing, an exceptionally fine, crisp set, with maps fine to very fine (full condition report on maps in list below). Vol. 1 bears a contemporary ink inscription: “...la Libreria de Bazes(?)”; vol. 2 has a few old ink notes, including “Maria” in ornate contemporary or near-contemporary calligraphy at end. A few endpapers of sympathetic laid paper appear not to be contemporary with the book. Overall, an excellent set of “the first history of California” (Streeter Sale 2433).
 Mapa de la California su Golfo, y provincias fronteras en el continente de Nueva España, title within pediment cartouche (lower left of cartouche: Is. Peña sculp...[dedication dated 1757]). Three sides bordered by ten pictorial vignettes (missionaries, Baja California natives, and animals). Overall measurement of map with vignettes 37.5 x 31.5 cm (14-3/4 x 12-3/8 inches). Some foxmarks mainly confined to upper blank margin; two small voids slightly affecting two vignettes (approximately 0.5 x 1 cm) with very minor loss; short, clean tear at juncture of map and book block; one small chip at lower right blank margin, overall fine. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 587.
 Seno de California, y su costa oriental nuevamente descubierta, y registrada desde el Cabo al las Virgenes, hasta su termino, que es el Rio Colorado año 1747. por el Pe. Ferdinando Consag de la Compa. de IHS, Missiono. en la California. Title within simple scroll cartouche. 31.5 x 28.5 cm (12-3/8 x 11-1/4 inches). One short, clean tear at lower margin (no loss), otherwise very fine. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 588.
 ...Carta de la Mar del Sur, ò Mar pacifico, entre el Equador, y 39½ de latitud septentrional hallada por el Almirante Jorge Anson en el Galeon de Philipinas, que apresò. [At head of cartouche]: Viage de Anson. Lib. 3. Cap. 8 pag. 305. Mapa 33. [Lower left]: Joseph Gonzz. Sculpt. Mti.... Title within simple scroll cartouche. 23.5 x 22.8 cm (9-1/4 x 9 inches). Very fine condition. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 586.
 Mapa de la America Septentl. Asia Oriental y Mar del Sur intermedio formado sobre las memorias mas recientes y exactas hasta el año de 1754 [below neat line]: Manuel Rodriguez. Sculpst. Md. Ao. de 1756. Three ornate cartouches against pictorial grounds with costumed groups of Spanish, Asian, and Baja California natives and flora and fauna. 29.8 x 36 cm (11-3/4 x 14-1/8 inches). One short, clean tear at juncture of map and text block, otherwise very fine. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 585.First edition, second issue (pp. 476-80 of vol. 2 correctly numbered). Barrett, Baja California 2539. Cowan I, p. 238: “This work is considered the foundation of a library of Californiana.” Cowan, p. 659. Farquhar, The Books of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon 5: “Venegas is the principal source of information about the explorations made by Father Consag in 1746 by which the question of the insularity of California was finally set at rest. Consag’s description of the Gulf of California and the mouth of the Colorado River received wide publicity through the volumes of Venegas.” Graff 4470. Hill, p. 307. Howell 50, California 246. Howes V69. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 78. Jones 491. Lada-Mocarski 14: “Much valuable information...on the Russians’ and others’ discoveries in the North Pacific.” LC, California Centennial 6. Libros Californianos, p. 10 (Powell commentary): “The distinction of being the most prized of all California books belongs...to Miguel Venegas’ Noticias.” Mathes, California Colonial Bibliography 50. Medina, Biblioteca hispano-americana, 1493-1810 #3855. Streit III:663. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 585-588 (see also note in 483) & pp. 144-47; Spanish Southwest 132: “I have seen it asserted that the object of publishing this book was to counteract some assertions made in Anson’s Voyage , in which some aspersions were cast on the Jesuits, especially about their handling of the natives in the missions in California.... Throughout the work great attention is paid to the geography of the country.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 138 & I, p. 85 (citing only Map 1 above, but mentioning the others): “A well drawn map, showing the mission and Indian towns of Pimería Alta.” Zamorano 80 #78 (Henry R. Wagner): “Volume III contains extracts from López de Gómara and Torquemada relating to the early explorations on the northwest coast and several articles written by Father Burriel himself. Of these, the most interesting is his account of the construction of the map of California, and of the general map of North America.”
Alfred W. Newman (California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present 15) lists Robert de Vaugondy’s 1772 Carte de la Californie (appeared in Diderot’s Enciclopedie), which gives a pictorial summary of the cartographic history of California in five maps on one sheet. Newman states that map 5 of Vaugondy is based upon a Spanish map in Venegas’s book. The Mapa de la California su Golfo is, in turn, based upon Consag’s Seno de California.
The superb maps in this foundation work on California are important, and what a pleasure it is to encounter them intact and in fine condition in the three volumes bound in original vellum. The most important of the four maps is Consag’s Seno de California (Map 2 above). This map is a cornerstone of California cartographical history and of interest to any library or collector with serious focus on the history of the evolution and resolution of the concept of California as an Island. Joseph González engraved Consag’s map of Seno de California to accompany the printed account of Consag’s expedition to the mouth of the Colorado River in 1746. This map conclusively ended the classic cartographic myth that California was an island. Father Kino had previously offered strong evidence that California was not an island and had convinced the foremost contemporary cartographers of his theory. Yet, Kino had not proven his claim by actually crossing the Colorado River from Sonora to the California side. Kino’s explorations were not fully accepted by some Spanish explorers and authorities—even Venegas did not concur—until Consag led an expedition to the mouth of the Colorado River in 1746 and rowed completely around the head of the Gulf. The following year Ferdinand VII issued a decree proclaiming that California should no longer be considered an island (see Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 133). A decade following that admission, this map recording Consag’s discoveries was published in Madrid. Cowan (I, p. 239) wrote that “other than Cabrera, Burriel was the first writer whose sound sense allowed him to reject the apocryphal voyages as unworthy of credit, to restrict northern geography to actual discoveries, and to correctly define in print the peninsula and regions of the Colorado and Gila [Rivers] as far as known.”
The frontispiece map (Map 1 above), Mapa de la California su Golfo, y provincias fronteras en el continente de Nueva España is one of the most handsome maps of California from the colonial period, or any era of California history for that matter. The illustrations framing the map are among the few eighteenth-century printed images of California. According to Dr. W. Michael Mathes, the Indians depicted on the maps are from Baja California. They were based upon a combination of sources, partly from verbal description, and some from drawings, such as Tirsch, et al. Burriel based his map on Consag’s latest explorations (as more fully illustrated in Consag’s Seno de California). The head of the Gulf of California is essentially that of Kino’s 1705 Passage par terre a la Californie (see Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 483), but Kino did not know of Isla Angel de la Guarda, which first appeared on Consag’s map. The Mapa de la California su Golfo was skillfully engraved by Manuel Rodríguez and adorned with captivating vignettes illustrating the flora, fauna, and inhabitants of California and the martyrdoms of Fathers Carranco and Tamaral.
Burriel’s Carta de la Mar del Sur, ò Mar pacifico... (Map 3 above) was engraved by Joseph González after Anson’s chart of the Pacific Ocean between the Equator and 39°30' north latitude, graduated for latitude (see Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 558 for Anson’s map). Manuel Rodríguez engraved the final map, Mapa de la America Septentl. Asia Oriental y Mar del Sur, a general map of the north Pacific showing America and Asia (Map 4 above). Burriel decried the inclusion of this map without his permission because it showed the Delisle fantastic geography of the Fonte voyage.
For more on the maps in this work, see Ernest J. Burrus, La Obra Cartográfica de la Provincia Mexicana de la Compañía de Jesús, 1567-1967 (Madrid: Ediciones José Porrúa Turanzas, 1967. Colección Chimalistac de Libros y Documentos acerca de la Nueva España, Serie José Porrúa Turanzas, 2 vols.—vol. 1 is text, vol. 2 is a folder of 46 maps). (3 vols.) ($5,000-10,000)
78A. VENEGAS, Miguel. A Natural and Civil History of California:
Containing an Accurate Description of That Country, Its Soil, Mountains,
Harbours, Lakes, Rivers, and Seas; Its Animals, Vegetables, Minerals,
and Famous Fishery for Pearls. The Customs of the Inhabitants, Their
Religion, Government, and Manner of Living...Together with Accounts
of the Several Voyages and Attempts Made for Settling California, and
Taking Actual Surveys of That Country, Its Gulf, and Coast of the
South-Sea.... London: Printed for James Rivington and James Fletcher,
1759.  455 +  387 pp., 8 engravings on 4 plates (Baja California
natives, missionaries, and mammals), folding engraved map, title within
small ornate cartouche: An Accurate Map of California Drawn by
the Society of Jesuits and Dedicated to the King of Spain [below
neat line]: J. Gibson Sculp. (32 x 19.7 cm; 12-5/8 x 7-3/4
inches). 2 vols., 8vo, contemporary tree sheep (appears to have been
rebacked at an early date with later tan sheep, red and tan morocco
gilt-lettered spine labels preserved), edges gilt-tooled, spines with raised
bands. A few abrasions to binding, front hinge of vol. 1 cracked (but
strong), endpapers with marginal browning due to original adhesive
and contact with leather over time, four neat reinforcements on map
verso to consolidate short splits (no losses of text, image, or border),
overall a fine, fresh copy, the plates and maps especially fine. Engraved
armorial bookplate of The Right Honorable William Hutt. Warren R. Howell’s
pencil notes on rear endpaper: “2 vols. scarce 1st Ed.”
Small green and white label of bookseller Gelber-Lilienthall, Inc.,
San Francisco, on rear pastedown.
This first, and thus cornerstone, history of the Californias was
penned by Miguel Venegas who was born in Puebla in 1680, entered the
Society of Jesus at Tepotzotlán in 1700, was ordained in 1705, and
served as a professor of moral theology in the Colegio Máximo of San
Pedro y San Pablo in Mexico City from 1714 to 1724. For reasons of
health, in the latter year he was sent as administrator to the Jesuit
hacienda of Chicomocelo, where he compounded medications and dedicated
himself to letters. In 1731 his classic Manual de Parrocos appeared
in its first edition, and three years later he finished a biography
of Juan Bautista Zappa, S.J., close friend of Juan María de Salvatierra,
S.J., founder of the first permanent mission in the Californias, Nuestra
Señora de Loreto. Highly inspired by the dynamic expansion of the
Jesuits in the mission fields of Sinaloa, Sonora, Pimería Alta, and
California, Venegas had sought to serve in the California enterprise, but
was rejected because of his delicate health. Thus, he was unable to
go to his “beloved California” and he devoted his time to writing its
——W. Michael Mathes
Item 78. One of the most handsome maps of California ever printed, surrounded by engravings that are among the few eighteenth-century printed images of California.
Item 78. Burriel criticized the inclusion of this map, because it showed the Delisle fantastic geography of the Fonte voyage.
Item 78. Consag’s cornerstone map of California which conclusively ended the classic cartographic myth that California was an island.
Item 78. Carta de la Mar del Sur, ò Mar pacifico, Anson’s chart of the Pacific Ocean between the Equator and 39°30' north latitude, graduated for latitude.
Item 78. Ornamental vignette.