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AUCTION 20

Monumental Americana

38. [KINGSBOROUGH, Edward King, Viscount]. Antiquities of Mexico: Comprising Fac-similes of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hieroglyphics, Preserved in the Royal Libraries of Paris, Berlin, and Dresden; in the Imperial Library of Vienna; in the Vatican Library; in the Borgian Museum at Rome; in the Library of the Institute of Bologna; and in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Together with the Monuments of New Spain, by M. Du Paix: With Their Respective Scales of Measurement and Accompanying Descriptions. The Whole Illustrated by Many Valuable Inedited Manuscripts, by Augustine Aglio. In Seven Volumes. London: Published by A. Aglio, 36, Newman Street; To be had also of Whittaker, Treacher, and Co., Ave-Maria Lane, 1830-1848. Title and imprints vary slightly.

Vol. I: [3] pp., 72 plates; [2] pp., 70 plates; [2] pp., 11 plates; [2] pp., 40 plates; [2] pp., 21 plates; [2] pp., 12 plates. Total: 226 plates.

Vol. II: [6] pp., 102 plates; [2] pp., 23 plates; [2] pp., 10 plates (2 folded); [4] pp., 65 plates; [2] pp., 19 plates. Total: 219 plates.

Vol. III: [6] pp., 76 plates; [2] pp., 27 plates; [2] pp., 22 plates; [2] pp., 24 plates. Total: 149 plates.

Vol. IV: [6] pp., 17 plates (1 folded); [2] pp., 57 plates (1 folded); [2] pp., 58 plates (2 folded); [2] pp., 5 plates; [2] pp., 4 plates; [2] pp., 7 plates. Total: 148 plates (some on mounted india proof paper).

Vol.V: vii [1 (blank)], [2], 493 [1] pp.

Vol. VI: [4], 540 pp.

Vol. VII: [2], vi, [2], 464 pp.

Vol. VIII: [2], 268, [4], 424 pp.

Vol. IX: 468, 60 pp.

Printed on wove Whatman paper. 742 uncolored plates (mostly Mesoamerican pictorial codices, along with 150 lithograph plates of sculpture and architecture). 9 vols., folio (54 cm tall), twentieth-century three-quarter dark brown sheep over brown and green faux(?) snakeskin boards, spines gilt lettered with raised bands. Some volumes scuffed and a few with sheep peeling, most hinges cracked and all but two volumes with light waterstaining, Vol. VII with light to moderate foxing. Some volumes with binder’s ticket: Nicolas V. Rivera of San Salvador.

     First edition, uncolored state, the Aglio issue with varying title and imprint (Havell subsequently bought a part of the edition and changed the title and imprints to make them consistent in each volume). The volumes contain the first publication of several important Mesoamerican codices, which embody very early records of precortesian America. The work includes Antiquitiés Mexicaines...1805-1807 (Paris: Didot, 1833-1834), “the first drawings of Maya architecture to be published” (Wauchope). Brunet III, col. 663. Glass, p. 631 (citing 1831-1848): "Also issued with title pages for Vols. 1-7 dated 1830 on which only Aglio’s name and not Kingsborough’s appears. Vols. 1-3 contain handcolored (or uncolored) lithographs of copies by Augustine Aglio of 16 pictorial manuscripts. They are first editions of almost all of these documents, but all are best consulted in more recent editions except for details that may have deteriorated on the original since they were copied by Aglio, 1825-30... Notes by Kingsborough in Vols. 6 and 8 in support of a Hebrew origin of many Middle American culture traits occasionally comment on these pictorial manuscripts but are not considered of much significance. A monumental and historic work, now largely superseded." Lipperheide 620. Palau 128006. Pilling 2008. Sabin 37800.

     Kingsborough's splendid work on the antiquities of Mexico is considered among the more important books ever printed on the subject of Mexican and Central American archaeology and codices, providing in incredible detail a panoramic history of pre-Cortesian culture and the early conquest. With the support of Sir Thomas Phillipps, many of whose manuscripts are described in the Antiquities, Kingsborough (1795-1837), who first became fascinated with Mexican artifacts while studying at Oxford, employed Italian painter Augustine Aglio to scour Europe's greatest libraries and private collections for Mexican manuscripts. Aglio sketched and later lithographed these manuscripts for publication. Besides Aglio's reproductions of manuscripts in the Bodleian, the Vatican Library, the Imperial Library of Vienna, the Library of the Institute at Bologna, and the royal libraries of Berlin, Dresden, and Budapest, the work includes Dupaix's Monuments of New Spain, taken from Castañeda's original drawings, and descriptions of sculptures and artifacts from several private collections. The text, with sections in Spanish, English, French, and Italian, includes Sahagún's Historia General de la Nueva España and the chronicles of Alvarado Tezozómoc and Alva Ixtlilxóchitl.

          This set is a remarkable example of the art of bookmaking, with its massive thick volumes, excellent printing, and profusion of illustrated material. However, its publishing history is tragic. The cost of the monumental work was about £32,000. Kingsborough died of typhus contracted in prison in Dublin, after he was arrested for debts to a paper manufacturer. If he had survived a few more months he would have inherited an annual estate of about £40,000 from his father the Earl of Kingston. ($7,500-15,000)

Sold. Hammer: $18,000.00; Price Realized: $21,150.00

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