Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

Zamorano Eighty
"The first book that relates exclusively to California" (Cowan)

43. [COSTANSÓ, Miguel]. Diario histórico de los viages de mar, y tierra hechos al norte de la California de orden del Excelentíssimo Señor Marqués de Croix, Virrey, Governador, y Capitán General de la Nueva España: Y por dirección del Illustríssimo Señor D. Joseph de Gálvez, del Consejo, y Cámara de S.M. en el Supremo de Indias, Intendente de Exército, Visitador General de este Reyno. Executados por la Tropa destinada á dicho objeto al mando de Don Gaspar de Portolá, Capitán de Dragones en el Regimiento de España, y Governador en dicha Península y por los paquebots el S. Carlos y el S. Antonio al mando de Don Vicente Vila, Pilota del Número de primeros de la Real Armada y de Don Juan Pérez, de la Navegación de Philipinas. Mexico: De Orden del Excmo. Sr. Virrey, en la Imprenta del Superior Gobierno, [1770]. [2], 56 pp. (final leaf supplied in facsimile). Folio (29.2 x 20), later protective paper wrappers. Except for occasional very light staining, minor spotting (mainly affecting title), and a few minor paper defects, in very good condition. Contemporary ink manuscript correction on first page of text. Laid in acid-free clamshell case.

            This book is found on three of the lists of “The Twenty Rarest and Most Important Books Dealing with the History of California” (Bliss, Cowan & Wagner). Cowan (I, p. 56) states that “it is believed that the work was suppressed by the Spanish government immediately upon its appearance, as it contained certain information that might be of use to navigators of other nationalities, and Spain distrusted England. Subsequently a manuscript copy was translated into English by William Reveley, and published in London in 1790. A copy of each of these works is known to be in this state [California], but they are superlatively rare—probably the rarest of all Californiana.”

            First edition. Barrett, Baja California 591. Cowan I, pp. 56-57: “Of the utmost importance. The first book that relates exclusively to California.” Cowan II, p. 144. Doheny Sale 210. Graff 884. Hill I, p. 69; II:380. Howes C795: “Intrinsic importance and superlative rarity, combined with its status as the first book devoted entirely to California, place this item, either in Spanish or English, in the top rank of memorable and desirable California books.” Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 22. LC, California Centennial 28. Libros Californianos (Bliss, Cowan & Wagner lists), pp. 15-16, 20, 24. Mathes, California Colonial Bibliography 55. Medina, México 5363. Pilling 902. Sabin 17019. Streeter, Americana-Beginnings 74. Streeter Sale 2437 (title illustrated, p. 1731): “The Portolá expedition was sent to found Monterey and San Diego, the first settlements in what is now the state of California. Approaching settlement from the north by the Russians prompted the Spanish to occupy formally Alta California. It was also on this expedition that San Francisco Bay was discovered by land approach.” Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast, p. 164; Spanish Southwest 149. Zamorano 80 #22.

            This is the first printed detailed report on upper California written by a participant in the Sacred Expedition that established a permanent Spanish presence in the area. Costansó (1741-1814), a professional engineer, joined José de Gálvez in 1768. After preparing important maps of the California peninsula, he sailed in early 1769 for San Diego. On its way north, the column of which he was part, commanded by Pedro Fagés, missed Monterey but reached the Golden Gate. It was only on the southbound leg of the return that the expedition arrived at Monterey. Shortly thereafter, the presidio and mission at Monterey were laid out by Costansó, who sailed back to the area on the San Antonio with Father Junípero Serra. Costansó then departed for Mexico City to report to the Marqués de Croix. As Wagner points out, this report was never intended to be published; its printing caused a sensation and it was promptly squashed by the Spanish government. Alexander Dalrymple somehow obtained a copy and translated it into English in 1790 to support English claims based on Drake’s explorations. The book, in one form or the other, has basically stayed in publication since this edition. ($15,000-30,000)

Sold. Hammer: $105,000.00; Price Realized: $123,375.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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