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Choice Americana: A masterpiece of Mexican colonial printing by Hogal

Superb Maps of Texas & California


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259.     LORENZANA [Y BUITRÓN], Francisco Antonio de. Historia de Nueva-España, escrita por su esclarecido conquistador Hernan Cortés, aumentada con otros documentos, y notas, por el ilustrissimo señor Don Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, Arzobispo de Mexico. Con las Licencias Necesarias. Mexico: En la Imprenta del Superior Gobierno, del Br. D. Joseph Antonio de Hogal en Calle de Tiburcio, Año de 1770. [18], i-xvi, 1-175, 175 bis, [2], 177-400, [18, contents] pp., title printed in red and black and with allegorical copper-engraving of America; 34 copper-engraved plates (including frontispiece of Cortés allegorically presenting the New World to Carlos V, Great Temple of Mexico, codices, such as Veytia Calendar Wheel no. 5 & Codex Matrícula de Tributos), copper-engraved initial in prelims, a few wood-engraved ornaments; plus 2 folding maps (see below). Folio (27 x 18.5 cm), full nineteenth-century brown sheep, spine gilt rolled and stamped with floral motif, brown leather spine label lettered in gilt, grey marbled endpapers, edges tinted red. Expertly re-backed, original spine and leather label preserved, missing sections of corners and head cap sympathetically applied. Nine leaves at end (contents) supplied from another copy and remargined to size. Occasional minor foxing, small fox mark on title, minor repairs to one archaeological plate and the large map (no losses), 2K1 with old paper repairs in margins, small intermittent worm holes in blank gutter margins of some leaves and plates (not affecting text or images), overall a fine, complete copy (seldom found thus), with excellent impressions of the maps and engravings.


[Title within ornate cartouche at right center] Plano de la Nueva España en que se señalan los Viages que hizo el Capitán Hernan Cortés assi antes como despues de conquistado el Imperio Mexicano: dispuesto por Dn. Jph. Anto. de Alzate y Ramírez año de 1769 [text at upper left discussing locations of Native American tribes, commencing] Los Moquis están al Poniente…. [lower left within scroll-like device with charts and books] Ruta Que Llebõ Hernan Cortés quando fue la primera vez a México. [lower right within image] Navarro delin i sculpio en México año 1770. Neat line to neat line: 31.2 x 40.5 cm; overall sheet size: 36 x 42.2 cm.

[Title in winged cartouche at top right] Domingo del Castillo. Pilota me Fecit en México año del Nacimiento de N.S. Jesu Chisto [sic] de MDXLI. [text below map] Este Mapa esta sacado de el original que para en el Estado de el Marqués de el Valle. En lo alto pone una Ciudad, que entonzes o por Relaciones se creio cierta i la llamaron Quivira. En la desembocadura del Rio Colorado en el Golfo de Californias pone Dos Rios el uno se llama de Buena Guia, i puede ser el Colorado el otro de Miraflores, y puede ser el Gila que incorporados en una Madre entrán en el Seno de Californias. Navarro Sc. Mexo. año 1769. Compass rose at lower left and two small depictions of “La Ciudad de Cibora” and “La Ciudad de México.” Plate mark (map and text below): 21.3 x 25.5 cm; overall sheet size: 23.6 x 35.1 cm.

     First edition of a masterpiece of Mexican colonial printing, with important historical content and superb maps and plates; first American edition of Cortés second, third, and fourth letters. Barrett, Baja California 3960. JCB(3)I:1750. Cowan II, p. 396. García Icazbalceta 123, 230. Hill I, pp. 66-69. Hill II #1039: “Included is the voyage of Cortés to Baja California and a report of all of the expeditions to California to the year 1769, the year of the Portolá-Serra expedition to found San Diego and Monterey.” Mayer, Poblaciones mexicanas, planos y panoramas, siglos XVI al XIX, p. 10 (illustrated). Medina, Ensayo bio-bibliográfico sobre Hernán Cortés 73. Medina, México 5380. Museo Amparo, Imprentas, ediciones, y grabados de México barroco 77. Palau 142408. Sabin 42065. Valle, Cortés 29. Vindel, pp. 267-268. Wagner, Spanish Southwest 152. See map citations below.

     Lorenzana, archbishop of Mexico from 1766-1772, displayed great energy and capability and succeeded in advancing the religious, social, and educational interests and printing arts of Mexico during his bishopric. Recalled to Spain in 1772 he became archbishop of Toledo and was made a cardinal in 1789. Lorenzana here presents the second, third, and fourth letters of Cortés to Charles V documenting the conquest of Mexico. (Cortés’ first letter is still lost; the fifth was not discovered until 1777 and remained unpublished until 1844). Cortés’ letters are made all the more valuable by Lorenzana’s copious commentary and research, such as his attempt—the first—to identify Cortés’ route to Mexico City. Lorenzana’s edition of Cortés’ letters was the primary source used by most subsequent English and French writers (see Henry R. Wagner, The Rise of Fernando Cortés, Berkeley: The Cortés Society, 1944, pp. xv, 141).

     Pre-Cortesian interest includes text and illustrations of materials such as the Veytia Calendar Wheel no. 5 and a suite of thirty-one engraved leaves of glyphs from Matrícula de Tributos (first appearance in print). These glyphs, which are accompanied by Spanish translations, are an itemized list of tribute paid to the ruling cities of the Valley of Mexico before the conquest by the different provinces and villages of the Aztec empire. These glyphs constitute a major source for the study of tribute, place glyphs, political economy, and geography of pre-Cortesian Mexico. These copper-engraved plates are among the most beautiful and elegantly presented reproductions from the original Mesoamerican pictorial codices. Glass et al., Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources Part Four of Handbook of Middle American Indians, edited by Robert Wauchope, p. 645.

     The book includes a wealth of historical material on colonial Mexico, such as a list of viceroys from Cortés to the Marquis de Croix (taken from a manuscript of Betancurt’s work). There is also an account of Cortés’ voyage to Baja California, and a report of all subsequent expeditions to California to 1769 (the year of the Portolá-Serra expedition to found San Diego and Monterey). Lorenzana notes in the text that the map of California published with his book was copied from the original in the Archives of the Cortés family (apparently now lost). This map (here in its first printing) has been cited as the first map to bear the name California (Burrus, Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain, p. 30; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #3 & Vol. I, p. 19). However, Wagner (Cartography of the Northwest Coast 2) points out that it is not known whether Castillo or Lorenzana applied the name “California” which appears on the map.

     The general map of New Spain which accompanies this work was created by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737-1799), a Mexican-born cleric and leading figure of the Enlightenment in colonial Mexico (see Dicc. Porrúa and Elías Trabulse, Historia de la ciencia in México and arte y ciencia en la historia de México). Alzate’s map, as it appears in Lorenzana’s book, was reworked from Alzate’s original manuscript maps and a printed version (Nuevo Mapa Geográfico de la América Septentrional, Paris, 1768), the latter almost impossible to obtain. The present map, besides its intrinsic interest for the cartography of Mexico, is important for Texas and the Transmississippi West. Martin and Martin (20) state that the prototype 1768 printed map is “the only printed Spanish map of the area [Texas and the Spanish Southwest] produced in the eighteenth century.” See also: Jack Jackson’s, Shooting the Sun, I, pp. 131-139. Lowery 515 & 516; Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 612. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #149n & Vol. I, p. 87). Alzate’s maps were the first to apply the name Texas to the entire geographical region. (Delisle’s Carte de la Louisiane was the first printed map to include the name Texas, by locating the ‘Mission de los Teijas, établie in 1716,’ referring to the earliest of the Spanish missions in East Texas; see Item 288 herein). Wheat (Mapping the Transmississippi West Vol. I, p. 134) discusses the sources of Humboldt’s celebrated map of New Spain (see Item 315 herein) and specifically cites Alzate as one of Humboldt’s major sources, indicating the importance of Alzate’s cartographic work.

     This cornerstone history is a milestone in American printing, being the most lavishly illustrated book with engravings to have been printed in the New World up to that time. The book was printed on the illustrious press of Hogal, considered the Ibarra of Mexico. José Mariano Navarro engraved the allegorical frontispiece and the two maps. (See: Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico, Woodcuts and Copper Engravings in New Spain 1539-1821; Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores de Nueva España, pp. 126-127). The remainder of the engravings are the work Manuel de Villavicencio. (See: Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial, pp. 129; Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores de Nueva España, pp. 549-555).


Sold. Hammer: $10,000.00; Price Realized: $12,000.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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