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“No tenemos noticia de ningún otro libro impreso en inglés en México durante la dominación española” (Medina)

9. CATHOLIC CHURCH. MEXICO. INQUISITION. [Caption title in Spanish] Nos los Inquisidores Apostólicos contra la Heretica Pravedad, y Apostosía en esta Ciudad, y Arzobispado de México, y en todos los Reynos, y Provincias de esta Nueva España, Goatemala, Isla Filipinas, sus Distritos ye Jurisdicciones, por Autoridad Apostolica, Real, y Ordinario. Hacemos Saber: Que el Excelentisimo Señor Inquisidor General...Nos Remitió en nueve de Febrero de mil Setecientos ochenta y siete años, la formula en Idioma Ingles, que á la letra sigue... [caption title in English on p. 3] A Short Abridgement fo [sic] Christian Doctrine.... N.p., n.d. [Mexico, ca. 1787]. 41 [1 blank] pp. (first two pages in Spanish, remainder of book in English). Small 8vo (14.6 cm tall), old plain paper wrappers, stitched. Fine, with small circular ink stamp on two leaves (p. 4 & final blank at end). Laid in acid-free cloth case. Rare.

     First edition of the only book known to have been printed in English in Mexico during the three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. ESTC W41449 (no locations listed in Great Britain, but the British Library has a copy). Harper, Americana Iberica XIV:1787: “One of the rarest and most interesting productions of the press in colonial Mexico.” Medina, México 7705; see also expanded Medina entry 7705 (Vol. 8, pp. 368-369, illustrated): “No tenemos noticia de ningún otro libro impreso en inglés en México durante la dominación española.”

     This catechism in English printed in Mexico enabled those who were non-Catholics in colonial Mexico to comply readily with Spanish law to practice the Catholic faith. Following the independence of the United States, increased numbers of English-speakers entered Spanish territory to the west in West Florida, the Mississippi Valley, Louisiana, and Texas. Gradual pressure by the United States led to a series of treaties prior to the Louisiana Purchase (1803) whereby the new republic augmented its presence in the west and brought in Anglo-American traders and settlers. These migrants were welcome under the proviso that they were Catholics and swore allegiance to the king of Spain, requisites retained well into the Mexican period in the colonization of Texas and California.

     This highly unusual American imprint was produced for distribution by parish priests, and probably the edition was relatively small, with most copies being well-used and disposed of upon completion of their usefulness. This catechism is rare in commerce. No copy had appeared at auction for many decades until a copy sold at Christie’s in June 2006 for $10,200. We trace the following institutional holdings: British Library, Harvard, Yale, John Carter Brown, New York Public Library, Brandeis, Lilly Library at Indiana University, Southern Methodist University, and University of New Mexico. ($8,000-12,000)

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