Samuel Bangs Sealed Paper

Casus Belli

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24. [BANGS, SAMUEL (printer)]. Original sealed paper for use in Coahuila y Tejas, with caption at top: Sello Cuarto: Una Cuartilla Habilitado Por El Estado De Coahuila Y Texas Para El Bienio De 1828 Y 29. Continued for another year with an ink manuscript certification just below: “Habilitado pa. el Estado de Coahuila y Texas pa. el vienio de 1830 y 31. Seanz[?]” and paraph. [Saltillo, 1828]. [2] pp., verso blank. Folio (31.5 x 21.5). Laid paper watermarked J L Gran | Masso. Except for a few minor stains, fine. Provenance: John Howell-Books from long-time dealer-scout-dentist of Mexico City, Roberto Valles.

     First edition. Not in Spell or Jenkins. Some type of sealed paper had been required for practically every legal and business transaction in Mexico since 1640, the value of the paper dependent upon either the type of the transaction or the amount of money involved. Our offered item is the cheapest of the four such sealed papers. The sale and use of sealed paper had long been a significant source of income for the Mexican government. As was typical at this time, most paper used in Mexico was of Italian origin, as is the case here. Paper could be a precious commodity, however, and shortages were common, probably more so in the hinterlands. Thus, the stratagem involved was to apply an updated manuscript certification, as has been done here.

     Having never seen stamped paper before, Austin and his colonists hated it, since it imposed fees that were tantamount to a tax. In his 21 July 1826 letter to Austin, fellow empresario B.W. Edwards complains bitterly about the required paper: “The Americans have been under the impression that they were exempt, under the colonization law, from taxation for ten years; yet they are told now, that Orders have come on, requesting them to pay Sepulver the most exorbitant prices for stamp-paper, which seems necessary to give validity to any instrument of writing between individuals, for money or what not—An acquaintance of mine a few days since was compeled [sic] to pay $6 in making a transfer of a negro, estimated at $400. Pray write me your views upon this subject” (Austin Papers, p. 1386). It is unknown if Austin replied to Edwards, but the situation had finally grown so vexatious that Austin felt compelled to write Coahuila y Tejas governor José María Viesca on 14 November the following year expressing dismay that the colonization law was apparently being ignored. He requested that the colonists be allowed to pay only the actual value of the paper rather than the tax represented on it (Austin Papers, pp. 1722-1723; for more on Sepulver, i.e., José Antonio Sepúlveda, see Barker’s Life of Stephen F. Austin, p. 166). In his letter, Edwards implies that stamped paper is just another of the expensive insults heaped on the colonists and expresses his alarm: “Col. Austin, these abuses and outrages upon the Americans will not be tolerated long!! The rumbling of the volcano has already become audible around us, and if any accident should cause its explosion in any part of its surface, not all our efforts could arrest its progress” (p. 1385).

     An excellent example of yet another of the Mexican outrages that eventually led to the Texas Revolution, printed by Texas’ first printer.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $245.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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