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Autographed by the Spy Who Came in from the South

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8.     ALMONTE, Juan Nepomuceno. VERACRUZ AND MEXICO RAIL ROAD. Lithograph bond, printed in double column (Spanish and English): Nuevo Fondo Mexicano de 5 p% Consolidado para a la Construcción del Camino de Fierro de Veracruz á México. Gana interes desde 1o de setiembre de 1857. Los dividendos se pagarán por semestres vencidos los días 1o de marzo y 1o de setiembre de cada año. Letra A N. 5459 1857 Bono por $100…. Mexican Five Per Cent New Consolidated Vera Cruz and Mexico Rail Road Stock Bearing Interest from the 1st September 1857. Dividends payable ever 1st March and 1st September. Letter A No. 5459 1857 Bond for £20 sterling…. [at end] Firmado de mi mano, en la ciudad de México, el dia 1o de setiembre de 1857…. Given under my hand, in Mexico, this first day of September 1857.. [imprint on verso] Mexico: Imprenta de Andrade y Escalante [1857]. Signed in ink by J.N. Almonte as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Mexico, and two Mexican officials. Two blind-embossed stamps (Mexican Treasury and Mexican Legation to Britain). Large folio (52 x 83 cm). Recto with bond descriptions in two columns at left, text within ornamental border and Mexican eagle with military implements at top, 100 individual bond coupons at right; verso with large panel at left within ornamental borders reading Mexican Five Per Cent New Consolidated Vera Cruz and Mexico Rail Road Stock, at right two bond samples printed in pale lilac with numbering in blue, and an August 31, 1857, decree by Ignacio Comonfort in both Spanish and English, authorizing the bond. Creased where formerly folded, left side irregularly trimmed with loss of some letters, a few marginal tears and minor chips (some into printed area, but no losses), tiny series of pinholes on either side of centerfold. On verso, thin piece of plain white paper (50.5 x 15.7 cm) applied to left side, obscuring portion of title. Overall a very good, unused copy of a rare Mexican railroad bond, signed by a person of interest for Republic of Texas history.

     This tour de force of Mexican commercial lithography is an outstanding example of the work produced by two of Mexico’s most important nineteenth-century lithographers, Felipe Escalante and José María Andrade (Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 30 & 63). The railroad, which ran from Veracruz to Mexico City and thence to the Pacific Ocean (Acapulco) was first undertaken in 1837; at that time no track was laid. Antonio Escandón received a new concession in 1857, which is represented by the bond documented here. However, the project was stalled by political problems until 1864; construction finally began while Maximilian was Emperor of Mexico. The line was finally finished in 1873 and is considered a marvel of engineering.

     Juan Nepomuceno Almonte (1803-1869), noted Mexican statesman-scholar, worked as a congenial spy in Texas, was the natural son of Mexican revolutionary José María Morelos y Pavón, and served as one of Santa-Anna’s generals at the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, where he acted nobly to prevent further loss of life. He was educated in New Orleans and was an important protégé of Santa-Anna. While on various assignments in Europe, he intrigued for French intervention and became one of the top government officials under Maximilian. He died in France. For more on Almonte, see Dicc. Porrúa, Handbook of Texas Online, and Jack Jackson & John Wheat, Almonte’s Texas: Juan N. Almonte’s 1834 Inspection, Secret Report & Role in the 1836 Campaign (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2003). Almonte’s Noticia estadística sobre Tejas (Mexico, 1835) is “one of the most valuable descriptions of Texas on the eve of the revolution…written by an agent for the Mexican government” (Basic Texas Books 2). See also Streeter 816.


Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $600.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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