The Boturini-Aubin-Goupil Collection

Illustrations of Some of the Foremost Surviving Mesoamerican Pictorial Codices

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42. BOBAN, Eugène [i.e., André Eugène Boban-Duvergé] (compiler) & E.-Eugène Goupil [i.e., Charles Eugène Espidon Goupil] (collector). Documents pour servir a l’histoire du Mexique. Catalogue raisonné de la collection de M. E.-Eugène Goupil (ancienne collection J.-M.-A. Aubin). Manuscrits figuratifs, et autres sur papier indigène d’agave mexicana et sur papier européen antérieurs et postérieurs a la conquête du Mexique (XVIe siècle)...avec une introduction de M. E.-Eugène Goupil et une lettre-préface de M. Auguste Génin.... Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1891. Text: Vol. I: [vii] viii-xv [1, blank], [7] 8-428 [2 (verso blank)] pp., photographic plate of a portrait of Aubin painted by Paul Tavernier in 1876. Vol. II: [13] 14-601 [1, blank] [2] pp. Atlas: ...Atlas Contenant 80 Planches en phototypie.... [2] [2, verso blank], 80 leaves of photolithographic plates (some sepia tone), 4 plans and reproductions of codices. Text: 2 vols., folio (36.3 x 28.4 cm), original tan printed wrappers bound in twentieth-century maroon cloth (to match original portfolio), author and title lettered in gilt on spines. Atlas: Oblong folio (38.8 x 44.8 cm), original front and back wrappers and plates laid in original gilt-lettered maroon cloth folded portfolio with original maroon cloth ties. Other than inconsequential wear to portfolio binding (a few clean splits to flap hinges), very fine. Complete set, including the analytical index as part of Vol. II.

     First edition. Chadenat, Le Bibliophile Américain, No. 19 (June-July 1896) #18970: “Les planches trés bien exécutees reproduisent exactemente les pages les plus curieuses de manuscrits figuratifs.” Glass, p. 31; see also, p. 13: “Published Collections of Documents: French Publications” p. 13: “A major French work... It is more an elaborate catalog of written documents and codices than a documentary collection.” Griffin 1359: “Catalog of the great Aubin-Goupil collection in Paris, with abundant commentary and transcription and a pictorial atlas. The collection includes some of the foremost extant codical documents.” Palau 31075. Ugarte 66A.

     This publication presents the collection first assembled by Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci (ca. 1702-1755; see Boturini herein), an Italian bibliophile and Chevalier of the Holy Roman Empire. He went to Mexico in 1736 to collect the arrears of a pension due to a descendant of Montezuma who lived in Portugal. While in Mexico, he was fascinated by the indigenous people of Mexico and the Virgin of Guadalupe and in his travels began collecting every document he could find. Unfortunately, in his quest to gather funds to more fully honor the Virgin of Guadalupe (and because he was a foreigner in Mexico), he fell afoul of Spanish regulations. In 1743 he was arrested, thrown in prison, and his collection confiscated and eventually scattered into private and public hands. Later Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin (1802-1891), a wealthy French historian who resided in Mexico from 1830-1840, was able to reassemble a large part (and the best part) of Boturini’s collection, which he took to Paris. Aubin lived surrounded by the collection for fifty years, not allowing anyone else to examine the manuscripts until 1889, when financial difficulties forced him to sell the collection of almost 400 manuscripts to Franco-Mexican Eugène Goupil (1831-1896), an enlightened lover of Mexico and an intelligent, sensitive patron of antiquarian studies. Goupil placed the collection in the hands of Eugène Boban (1834-1908), antiquarian, official archaeologist of the Court of Maximillian I of Mexico, and a member of the French Scientific Commission in Mexico. Goupil assigned Boban the challenging task of cataloguing the entire collection, to which other material had been added. After Goupil’s death, his wife (Augustine Élie) followed his wishes to donate the collection to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. This remarkable collection serendipitously survives as a result of the passionate pursuits of three private collectors. See Daniel G. Brinton, “The Boturini-Aubin-Groupil Collection of Mexicana,” Science (21:527, March 10, 1893), pp. 127-128.

     The present work is the result of Boban’s labors. The text volumes contain the formal description of the collection followed by a table of the entire collection with short title and an analytical index. The atlas presents examples of images of manuscripts found in the collection. Among the images are selections from the celebrated Historia Chichimeca (963-1428 A.D., Precolumbian Mexico); long pictorial scroll maps such as Quinatzin showing migrations of Nahaus; the curious Codex Cruciformis, amap of Tezcuco and Tenochtitlan; the striking Tomalamatl (“Book of Days”), a hieroglyphic manuscript presenting a religious and divinatory calendar; and many more. These pictorial illustrations present in a very visceral way the life, land, people, culture, and affairs of Mexico before the arrival of Europeans and during the early post-Conquest period. For example, the Newberry Library in an exhibit (“The Aztecs and the Making of Colonial Mexico: The Persistence of Nahua Culture”) illustrates Plate 33 from the plates accompanying the present work. Shown is a 1576 pictorial manuscript in ink and water color on amatl paper that would appear to many eyes inscrutable and esoteric with its symbols and figures. But, as the Newberry explains: “The document representing Juliana’s claims combines genealogy and depictions of the disputed items. Juliana appears at top right followed by her deceased husband, son, and grandson; Pedronilla is linked only to her son. In written testimony in the Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico, Juliana declares that she inherited the properties and goods from her parents and the properties were not her husband’s to bequeath to their son. She further notes that had her son not died, he would have inherited the properties now in dispute. The case was ultimately decided in Juliana Tlaco’s favor.” In many cases, Boban’s work was the first to present a manuscript photographically, and in some instances, the first publication of a manuscript in any form is found herein. An example of this is Document number 103 of this collection known as the Plan topographique d’Ixcatlan (Figures 54 through 57). Boban suggested that the document referred to an area in the vicinity of the peaks of Popocatepetl and Orizaba. (This misunderstanding endured until Glass correctly attributed it to Santa María Ixcatlan, Oaxaca.)

     It is obvious that Aubin or Goupil added to Boturini’s original collection, since some of the material is dated after Boturini’s death. Upon first glance this work appears limited to Precolumbian and early Spanish Mexico manuscripts, but it records a goodly number of manuscripts and manuscript maps that relate to the Spanish Southwest, Texas, California, Louisiana, Florida, etc. Examples in that category include Angel Anglino’s manuscript map of the Province of Texas in 1788; original documents from Pichardo’s papers (see Pichardo herein); diary (39 pp.) of voyage from San Blas to Monterey (Upper California) in 1774; “Diario del viaje a la costas del norte de California en el frigata Santiago de S.M....); manuscript (386 pp.) on Quivira in 1678-1685 written in 1777; manuscript (38 pp.) “Notice sur les le tribus Apaches du nord du Mexique” mentioning San Antonio and describing tribes between Guadalupe and Sabine Rivers; and many more.


Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,837.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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