Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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.


1762 Survey of the northern frontier of New Spain
Basic Borderlands source on the Apache, Pima, and Papago

159. SMITH, [Thomas] Buckingham (editor). [NENTUIG, Juan (attributed)]. Rudo Ensayo, tentativa de una Prevencional Descripcion Geographica de la Provincia de Sonora, sus terminos y confines; ó mejor, Coleccion de materiales  quien lo supiere mejor. Compilada así de Noticias adquiridas por el Colector en sus Viajes por casi toda ella, como Subministradas por los Padres Missioneros y Practicos de la Tierra. Dirigida al remedio de ella, Por un Amigo del Bien Comun. San Augustin de la Florida [title verso: Munsell, Printer, Munsell, Albany], Año de 1863. x, 208 pp. (pages set as follows: left margin 3.5 cm, text 9.5 cm., right margin 4.3 cm), title printed in red and black. 4to (17.5 x 21.5 cm), original gray paper wrappers, Provincia de Sonora printed in black on upper wrapper, original stitching. Two small chips on upper wrapper, two larger chips on rear wrap, very light spotting to wrappers, otherwise an exceptionally fine, unopened copy. Difficult to find, especially in fine condition (due to the fragile format). This is the best copy we have seen, in its original unsophisticated state, with both wrappers, and not rebound as usually found.

     First edition, limited edition (160 copies printed, according to limitation notice on p. 208), first appearance of the work except for a portion on the archaeological ruins along the Gila River, which was incorporated by Alegre in his Historia. Eberstadt 138:38: “An edition of 160 copies was supposed to have been printed but actually, it is said, only eighty copies were printed [source for assertion not provided].” Howell 52:244: “Edited from a contemporary copy in the Mexican archives by the distinguished American diplomat and scholar, Buckingham Smith [1810-1871], it provides a comprehensive survey of the natural history of the northern frontier of New Spain, as well as valuable information on the Indians that inhabited the area-in particular the Apaches, Pimas, and Papagos.” Howes S578. Palau 280965 (identifying the author as Fr. Manuel Aguirre). Ramos 3943. Sabin 73899. Smith, Bibiotheca Munselliana, on p. 125. DAB assertion that this book is “the first publication in its original or any language of a Spanish document of the eighteenth century” is incorrect.

     Streeter Sale 501 (describing a large paper copy, which the present is not): “The unknown author of this authoritative account of Sonora is thought to have been a Jesuit missionary named Juan Nentuig who reached Sonora in 1750. From a reference on p. 196, it must have been written as late as November 21, 1762. Nentuig remained until the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. The false imprint of Saint Augustine, Florida, on the title derives from Buckingham Smith's pride in his home town. The pages of this extraordinary book are set as follows: left margin 7.3 cm, text 9.5 cm, right margin 9 cm.”

     Father Juan (or Jean) Nentuig (sometimes Nentvig, Nentwig, or Nentoig, probably baptized Johann Nentwich) was born in 1713 in Germany in what is now Poland, entered the Jesuit Order in 1744, arrived in New Spain in 1750, and by 1751 was serving at Saric in Pimería Alta at the time of the tremendous Pima Revolt of 1751. Barely escaping, he subsequently worked in the Sonoran missions at Suamca, Tecoripa, and Guasabas. His “rough essay,” written ca. 1762, provides what he called a geographic and ethnographic description of the Province of Sonora. He finished this work in the midst of a smallpox epidemic while caring for the ailing fathers Aguirre and Och, weighed down with his regular priestly duties, reconstructing the mission church, fending off Apache sieges, raising crops, and engaged in an ambitious cattle breeding venture (here is an unheralded cattleman of the Southwest!). Compounding his challenges was failing eyesight. He did not survive the Jesuit expulsion, dying at age fifty-four on a brutal forced march through the coastal jungles between Tepic, Nayarit, and Guadalajara, Jalisco.

     The modest appearance of this volume belies its historical import. With its diverse documentation on geography, ethnohistory, and ethnobotany, it constitutes a basic underpinning of the history of the Pimería Alta Borderlands, including material of resonance today. For instance, the book is a source for current studies on the endangered Rio Verde Watershed. As an imprint this book is fascinating for its eccentric Floridian imprint, as well as being one of the more unusual works of Albany antiquarian and prolific publisher Joel Munsell (1808-1880). ($300-600)

Sold. Hammer: $425.00; Price Realized: $499.38

<< Previous Lot (158) | Auction 20 Abstracts | Next Lot (160) >>

Images (click to enlarge)
item illustration
item illustration

Home | e-mail: