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The Foundation of Modern Mexican Bibliography

"A Dynamic Assertion of Mexican Intellectual Achievement"

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171.     EGUIARA Y EGUREN, Juan José de. Bibliotheca Mexicana sive eruditorum Historia virorum, qui in America Boreali nati, vel alibi geniti, in ipsam Domicilio aut Studijs asciti, quavis linguâ scripto aliquid tradiderunt: Eorum præsertim qui pro Fide Catholica & Pietate ampliandâ fovendâque, egregiè factis & quibusvis Scriptis floruere editis aut ineditis…. Authore D. Joanne Josepho de Eguiara et Eguren…. Tomus Primus exhibens litteras A B C. Mexici: Ex novâ Typographiâ in Ædibus Authoris editioni ejusdem Bibliothecæ destinatâ, 1755. [158], 1-543 [1] pp., title printed in red and black, bibliography printed in two columns, occasional side notes, copper-engraving at top of p. 1 (Spanish royal arms; Virgin of Guadalupe; arms of Mexico City). Folio (30.2 x 20.5 cm), contemporary full Mexican tree calf, spine gilt decorated and with gilt-lettered leather label, marbled endpapers, edges tinted red. Headcap pulled but present, label chipped, overall moderate shelf wear and rubbing; some signatures lightly browned, some leaves worm damaged in gutter margins touching a few letters, pp. 190 and 220 have old ink library stamp of a Guadalajara library, pp. 533-543 stained in upper margin with resulting loss that touches a few page numbers, contemporary trimmed ink marginalia on p. 434. Overall a very good copy of a handsome imprint printed on the author’s own press. Rare; no copy has been at auction in the past thirty years.

     First edition; no more published. Beristáin I, p. 309. Bibliotheca Mejicana 551. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1867) 501: “Ouvrage très-important et d’une rareté excessive.” Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico, Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain 1539-1821, Register No. 1755:4239 (no attribution). Medina, México 4239. Palau 78641: “Raro en comercio.” Pilling. pp. xxiii (cited in "List of Authorities"). Ramírez 345: “Beristain confesses that he should never have undertaken his own Biblioteca if Eguiara had not opened the door and showed him the way.” Rich, Bibliotheca Americana Nova 1775:36 (1:115): “It is unfortunate that no more of this important work was published. It is probable that not many copies were printed…as it is not often met with.” Sabin 22060. See also: González Echevarría, et al., The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature: Discovery to Modernism, pp. 367-368.

     This legendary Mexican imprint and bibliographical rarity was the first attempt to document writers who worked, were born, or flourished in Mexico, 1521-1763, whether their works were in print or manuscript. It was compiled to refute authors who proposed the theory of American degeneration, especially Spaniard Manuel Martí, who in 1735 denigrated native American writers. Martí’s dismissal is quoted extensively in the work and commented upon. As Andrew Laird, The Epic of America (London: Duckworth, 2006), remarks: “[The work] is more than a bibliography: it represents both a demonstration and dynamic assertion of Mexican intellectual achievement in several spheres of knowledge” (pp. 21-22). His introductory remarks are also the first significant theoretical and practical analysis of Mexican literature. The work is in Latin, including those titles originally published in Spanish, the order is by Christian name rather than surname, and the author’s comments are sometimes bombastic and convoluted. The book is still a valuable text, preserving records of works not known to exist today.

     Although Eguiara y Eguren finished through the letter J, this is the only volume ever published. The work had significant influence, especially being used by Beristáin y Sousa for his own bibliography, and is considered the foundation of modern Mexican bibliography. What remains of his manuscript is in the University of Texas, Austin.

     Eguiara y Eguren (1696-1763) was born in Mexico City, entered the priesthood, and held a variety of administrative and teaching positions. He devoted the last part of his life to compiling the present work, although he also wrote others, now mostly forgotten, before doing so.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,400.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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