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Engraved Plates of Mexican Art & Archaeology


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429.     MOXÓ [Y DE FRANCOLI], Benito María de. Cartas mejicanas escritas por D. Benito María de Moxó en 1805; dadas á luz á impulsos del Revmo. P. Fr. Andrés Herrero…. Geneva: Tipografía Pellas, Plasa de Banchi, n.d. [ca. 1837]. [8], [1] 2-338 pp., 6 copper-engraved plates (including engraved half title) of archaeology and Mesoamerican subjects, engraved vignettes on title and in text. 8vo (22 x 15.3 cm), contemporary three-quarter sheep over blue and brown marbled boards, spine gilt lettered and decorated, edges tinted orange. Boards rubbed (edges and corners with some board exposed), scattered light to moderate foxing to text, generally very good. Two late nineteenth-century light ink stamps on title.

     First separate edition. Portions of this work appeared at Barcelona in 1828 under title Entretenimientos de un prisionero en las provincias del Rio de la Plata, published pseudonymously under the name Barón de Juras Reales, thought to be a relative of Moxó. In its present incarnation, the treatise was greatly expanded and improved. Yet another edition appeared into 1839. Glass, p. 658: “Reproduces two drawings from Codex Ixtlilxóchitl…describes unknown Testerian manuscript [and] unknown Tarascan lienzo.” Palau 183811. Pilling 2675n (citing the 1839 edition): “See Bancroft’s Native Races, Vol. III, p. 746, note, for a reference to Moxó relating to the Tarasco language. Rich, Vol. II, p. 332, says: ‘By the prologue to this work we learn that its author, a native of Cervera, died young, immediately after a revolution in South America in which this work came near being buried in eternal oblivion…it was brought to Europe and printed.’” Sabin 51213n (citing 1839 edition).

     Moxó y de Francoli (1763-1816), a controversial writer of the Spanish-American Enlightenment, was accused of collaborating with both monarchists and revolutionaries. His work is also marked by ambiguity, due to his loyalty to Spain and his sympathy for the original inhabitants of Mesoamerica, resulting in a complicated example of literary colonialism. This dissertation explores Mesoamerican archaeology, astronomy, pictorial codices, human sacrifice, mathematics, comparative study of suicide among Native Americans and Europeans, pre-Columbian music, and other unusual anthropological subjects, such as the Tarascan painted manuscript discussed by Glass. Dismissed are the claims by Robertson and De Pauw that Amerindian culture is inferior, though the author rebukes Voltaire for minimizing the extent of human sacrifice and cannabalism among the Aztecs. He resolutely defends the Spanish conquest. Perhaps the most important result of the work was its contribution to an upsurge in interest in Mesoamerican archaeology and art. The copperplate engravings are handsome and well executed.


Sold. Hammer: $250.00; Price Realized: $300.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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