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Outstanding Sepia-Tone Photogravures of the Southwest

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38.     BENAVIDES, Alonso de. The Memorial of Fray Alonso de Benavides 1630. Translated by Mrs. Edward E. Ayer, Annotated by Frederick Webb Hodge, and Charles Fletcher Lummis. Chicago: Privately printed [R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company at the Lakeside Press, (title verso)], 1916. [i-iv] v-xiii [1, blank], [1-4] 5-309 [1, blank], [1, colophon] [1, blank] pp. (printed on fine Old Stratford paper), 44 leaves of plates: 40 leaves of sepia-tone photogravures, some with 2 images per page (45 photogravure images total) after original photographs by Charles F. Lummis (24 images), Adam Clark Vroman (17 images), and John K. Hillers (1 image) and printed by John Andrew & Son of Chicago (23 plates) and A.W. Elson of Boston (15 plates), plus 4 black and white facsimiles of title pages; 2 full-page text illustrations consisting of facsimile title pages of earlier editions of the text. 8vo (23.5 x 16.5 cm), original three-quarter brown cloth, tan linen sides, spine gilt-lettered, t.e.g. Linen slightly dusty, occasional very mild offsetting from gravures to adjacent text page, lacking rear free endpaper, otherwise very good condition, the gravures very fine. Ex-library, with old pictorial bookplate of City Library, Manchester, N.H., their light blind stamp on title and two interior leaves, accession number in ink on inner blank margin of contents leaf.

     Limited edition (#110 of 300 copies). The book includes a full facsimile of the first edition of the Memorial, published in Madrid in 1630 (cf. Sabin 4636 & 76810; Streeter Sale 134; Wagner, Spanish Southwest 33). Graff 250. Holliday Sale 67. Howell, Americana 49: “The first scholarly edition in English of an indispensable source for the history of the Spanish Southwest, and the New Mexico missions in particular.” Laird, Hopi Bibliography 173. Palau 24146. Rader 332. Bancroft (Arizona and New Mexico, p. 162) refers to Benavides’ work as “the most important authority extant” on early seventeenth-century New Mexico.

     Franciscan priest Benavides, one of the early missionaries in the Southwest, published this Memorial in an unsuccessful attempt to have the province of New Mexico made a bishopric. During the first five years of his assignment in New Mexico, he is said to have baptized some 500,000 Native Americans. “Benavides was a tireless missionary who traveled extensively in the remote regions of New Mexico (which, of course, included Arizona at that time) and became an expert on the Indians and geography of the area. His Memorial is really a general report on the Southwest, especially the inhabitants…. His eyewitness descriptions of Hopi life and the Hopi country provide the earliest detailed account” (Laird). The present work is also valuable for its bibliographical notes on the various editions of the Memorial, which within a few years of its 1630 publication in Spain appeared in French, Dutch, Latin, and German.

     Texas interest is found in Benavides’ account of the miraculous visits of María de Jesús de Ágreda to the Jumano tribe in Texas (see Abernethy, Legendary Ladies of Texas, pp. 7-14) and Benavides’ suggestion of a route from New Mexico across Texas to the Gulf. The Memorial was also hauled out years after its publication and consulted concerning a proposal to fortify La Bahía del Espíritu Santo in response to La Salle’s incursion into Texas in 1685.

     These marvelous photogravures documenting New Mexico and Arizona in the early twentieth century have both aesthetic and historical value. Images include active and abandoned missions and churches (such as Santa Fe), landscapes (landmarks such as Isleta, Taos, Acoma, Zuni, Hopi pueblos, etc.), and Native Americans (architecture, dancing, group shots, etc.). Two of the gravures show inscriptions left by New Mexico Governor Silva Nieto in 1629 on Inscription Rock. The photographs are the work of Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859-1928), Adams Clark Vroman (1856-1916), and John K. Hillers (1843-1925); a few are unattributed as to photographer or printer. Lummis, a Harvard-educated newspaper editor with a flamboyant flair, wrote several works on the Spanish Southwest and awakened interest in that area of history. As Laird remarks (172): “As founder, publisher, and editor of Land of Sunshine, Lummis did many laudable things, but for the scholar, perhaps none was so important as the publication of this and other source documents in American history.” Vroman, a Dutch Pennsylvanian, moved to Pasadena in 1894, where he opened a bookstore (still in operation) and made eight photographic trips through the Southwest. He was widely recognized for his sensitive documentary images of the vestiges of Spanish culture in California, New Mexico, and Mexico. German-American John K. Hillers spent his professional career as a government photographer, leaving behind 20,000 glass-plate negatives at the end of his life. He served on the Powell Expedition, among others, and is known for his beautiful composition and use of light.



Auction 22 Abstracts

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