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October 26, 2007

Secret Instructions from the Viceroy

229. REVILLAGIGEDO, [Juan Vicente Güémez Pacheco de Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo], Conde de. Instrucción reservada que el conde De Revilla Gigedo, dio a su succesor en el mando, Marqués de Branciforte sobre el gobierno de este continente en el tiempo que fue su Virey. Mexico: Imprenta de la Calle de las Escalerillas, a Cargo del C. Agustín Guiol, 1831. [12], 353 [1 blank] pp., copper-engraved portrait of Revillagigedo within frame border (El Excmo. Señor | Conde de Revilla Gigedo | Virey, que fué, de Mejico | [below neat line] Se hallará, en la Ymprenta de estampas calle de las Escaleríllas Mexco. a 1831 (border to border, including imprint: 10.2 x 8.2 cm). 8vo (19.3 x 15 cm), later nineteenth-century green sheep over black and tan mottled boards, spine with raised bands, gilt lettered and decorated. Spine faded to tan, boards slightly rubbed and chipped, corners slightly bumped, front hinge cracked, rear hinge starting, title and first few leaves foxed, otherwise text is fine, overall very good. The engraved portrait is very fine.

            First edition, printed from a previously unpublished manuscript written in 1794, containing material not printed elsewhere. Andrade 3171. Palau 263470. Raines, p. 93: “This Confidential Instruction of Count Gigedo to his successor in office, Marquis de Branciforte, abounds with details of administration [and] contains 1422 official documents.” Sabin 70288: “Of great importance in connection with the government of Mexico under Spanish domination.”

            A basic source on the colonial administration of Mexico and Spanish possessions in the present Southwest U.S. While praising the Count’s administration, the unnamed editor also darkly remarks that the document contains many examples of the ways in which Spain exploited Mexico, kept her in subjection, and enriched itself at Mexico’s expense. The work provides an in-depth overview of Mexico in the latter years of the eighteenth century, including discussions of crime and punishment, tobacco and other industries, communications, firefighting, engineering (primarily the drainage system of the Valley of Mexico), mining and other natural resources, revenue sources and their management, arts (including the founding of the Academy of San Carlos), medical matters (including epidemics), and a plethora of matter illustrative of daily life and social history, from cockfighting to colleges. Very interesting insights may be gleaned on unusual topics, such as regulations of pulquerias attempting to curb alcohol abuse. The Viceroy strongly condemns racial mixture, commenting in Article 145 (in translation) that "the Negro has uglied and worsened the Indian caste and has been the origin of many deformed castes."

            Energetic Viceroy Revillagigedo (1740-1799) administered from 1789 to 1794. His term of administration is considered the most progressive of the colonial era, resulting in urban development and renewal, including construction and renovation of numerous public buildings and parks, improved sanitation, lighting, security, construction of roads and streets, and establishment of professional schools.

            The copper-engraved portrait of Revillagigego shows signs of being altered, probably indicating reuse of an earlier plate. The plate is too late to be listed in Mathes (Illustration in Colonial Mexico: Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain, 1539-1821), but he lists several engravers working at Calle de las Escaleríllas in the early decades of the nineteenth century. ($400-800)

Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $470.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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