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Auction 15: Fine Collection of Californiana Formed by Daniel G. Volkmann Jr.

Lot 203: Torquemada

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203. TORQUEMADA, Juan de. Primera [segunda, tercera] parte de los veinte i un libros rituales i monarchía indiana, con el origen y guerras, de los indios ocidentales de sus poblaçones, descubrimiento, conquista, conuersion y otras cosas marauillosas de la mesma tierra distribuydos en tres tomos. Madrid: En la oficina y à costa de Nicolás Rodríguez Franco, 1723. [40] 768 [71] + [14] 574, 577-623 [55] + [12] 4, 634 [42] pp., printed in two columns, 3 copper-engraved allegorical title pages (illustrating Torquemada preaching), folded copper-engraved map of America, decorative wood-engraved initials, tailpieces, and chapter endings. 3 vols., folio, original full limp vellum with remains of rawhide ties, manuscript titles on spine in sepia ink. Front hinge of vol. 1 separated from text block, wanting front free endpaper, first several leaves chipped and curled on right side and bottom affecting engraved title page, minor paper flaw on pp. 313-314 affecting a few words. Interiors otherwise very fine. Printed book plate of South Sea Library of Alvin and Ethel Seale, San Francisco, 1936, on front pastedown of each volume.

Map: [Below neatline at top left]: Descripcion de las Yndias Ocidentales. 22.2 x 31.3 cm; 8-3/4 x 12-3/8 inches. Burden 140 (citing this map as a later version of Herrera’s 1601 map Descripcion de las Yndias Ocidentales): “Herrera was the official historian of Castile and the Indies to Philip II of Spain [and] details the early exploration of the New World by the Spanish and assembles many documents lost to us today. The area depicted on this map is largely derived from the manuscript charts of Juan López de Velasco, c. 1575-80.... The lines of demarcation so bitterly fought over by the Spanish and Portuguese are shown; these divide the non-Christian world into spheres of influence.... Three names appear on the west coast of North America.... Curiously more detail is shown in this more general map, particularly the coastline, than on [Herrera’s map of North America].”

Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 525: “At first sight, the plate of the Herrera map would seem to have been used, but a closer inspection proves the map to have been re-engraved.” See Martin & Martin, p. 77. The map is often missing from the volume, and is not mentioned by Medina or Palau.
    Second and best edition, revised, corrected, and augmented by González Barcía (the original edition of 1615 is known by only a handful of copies). Barrett 2420. Beristain III, p. 185. Cowan II, p. 642. European Americana 725/195. Field, p. 394. Hill 1707: “This revised second edition is considered the best version of Torquemada’s key work on the early history of Spanish North America, particularly Mexico, the Southwest, and California.... The scarcity of the 1615 edition is partly due to the fact that most of the copies were lost in a shipwreck on their way to Mexico.” Leclerc 1476. Libros Californianos, p. 24n (Wagner choice, but the 1615 first, which is practically impossible to find). Mathes, California Colonial Bibliography 5n. Medina, Hispano-Americana 2491. Palau 335033. Salva II, 3412. Wagner, Spanish Southwest 18a. The handsome engraved title pages are by Franciscan monk Yuso Irala.

Because the preface is dated January 20, 1725, the work probably was not published before then.


Juan de Torquemada was born between 1557 and 1564, possibly in the City of Mexico or in Spain, having immigrated to the viceroyalty at an early age. He entered the Franciscan Order in the late sixteenth century and studied under friars Bernardino de Sahagún and Juan Bautista, from whom he learned the Náhuatl language. As father guardian, he directed the reconstruction of the church of Santiago Tlatelolco between 1603 and 1610 and the repair and reconstruction of the causeways of Guadalupe and Chapultepec.
    Torquemada’s interest in the history of New Spain resulted in publication of the Vida de Fray Sebastián de Aparicio (Mexico, 1602), and in the preparation of an exhaustive treatise on the history of the viceroyalty, the first exclusively dedicated to the subject. Published as Primera, Segunda, Tercera Parte de los Veynte Y Un libros Rituales y Monarchia Indiana... in three volumes (Sevilla: Matías Clavijo, 1615), the edition was virtually completely destroyed, and, because of its great historical importance, this protohistory of Mexico was published in a second edition 108 years later, with substantial emendations, indices, and other scholarly apparatus.
    Volume 1 contains a description of the Indies and its inhabitants, early Mexican cultures, principal population centers and governments, the conquest by Fernando Cortés, the government of New Spain by successive viceroyalties, early events in continental expansion, Pacific exploration including the Californias, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Japan, and the colonization of New Mexico. Included are detailed reports, in some cases the earliest published, of Sebastián Vizcaíno, Pedro Fernández de Quirós, and Juan de Oñate, with much of the information gathered from friends of Torquemada and participants in the events reported, such as Franciscan friars Bernardino de Sahagún, Andrés de Olmos, Gerónimo de Mendieta, and Gerónimo de Zarate Salmeron, and discalced Carmelite Fray Antonio de la Ascensión, second cosmographer to Vizcaíno during the demarcation of the Californias. Volume 2 treats missionary and religious history, the religion, laws, culture, war, and sustenance of Indians in New Spain, and the unique natural history of the region. The final volume covers Franciscan history in New Spain, Florida, the Philippines, and Japan, diocesan administration, the Holy Office of the Inquisition, and biographies of notable Franciscans.

—W. Michael Mathes

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