Floods and Flood Control in the Valley of Mexico—1748

With a Superb Map by Sigüenza y Góngora

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

111. CUEVAS AGUIRRE Y ESPINOSA, Joseph Francisco de. Extracto de los autos de diligencias, y reconocimientos de los rios, lagunas, vertientes, y desagues de la capital México, y su valle: de los caminos para su comunicacion, y su comercio: de los daños que se vieron: remedios, que se adbitraron de los puntos en particular decididos de su practica: y de otros a mayor examen reservados, para con mejor acierto resolverlos. todo por disposicion de Juan Francisco de Huemez y Horcasitas...lo escribió de su mandato el licdo. D. Joseph Francisco de Cuevas Aguirre y Espinosa....Mexico: Viuda de D. Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, 1748. [2], 1-71 [1, blank] pp. (printed with sidenotes at left margins), title printed in red and black within ornate typographical border, ornamental head piece, folded copper-engraved map of the watershed of the Valley of Mexico, printed in red: Mapa de las aguas que por el circulo de 90 leguas uienen a la Laguna de Tescuco y de la estension que esta y la de Chalco tenian sacado del que en el siglo antecedente deligneò Dn. Carlos de Siguenza (sheet size 39.5 x 44 cm; image area including title: 36.5 x 42.5 cm; neat line to neat line: 33.5 by 42.5 cm); lower right below neat line: Antonio Moreno sct. Folio (28.5 x 20.2 cm), disbound, later stitching. First leaf of text with small ink stamp of José María Bassoco, first director of the Academia Mexicana, dated 1877. A few old ink corrections to text. Occasional light foxing (mostly adjacent to map), a few lower corners at rear slightly dog-eared. Last leaf slightly chipped and repaired at lower margin, not affecting text. Map with some foxing (mainly confined to verso) and two old repairs on verso to closed tears. Overall, fine condition of both book and map.

     First edition of one of the most interesting of all books on the city of Mexico and the valley in which it lies. Apenes, Mapas antiguos del Valle de Mexico, p. 23 & Plate 18 (citing the map). Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. I, p. 26. Brasseur de Bourbourg, Bibl. Mex.-Guat., p. 52. Dicc. Porrúa (1995) 6554 (notes as very rare and even more so with the map). Heredia 3380. JCB III (1, 1700-1771) #870. Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana (1878) 1112. Mapoteca Colombiana (Méjico), p. 37, #24. Mathes, Illustration in Colonial Mexico 3887 & text commentary: “[In 1748] a major engraver, Antonio Onofre Moreno, Calle del Angel, began production. He executed an important lacustrian map of the Valley of Mexico based upon that of Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora for José Francisco de Cuevas Aguirre y Espinosa, Extracto de los autos.” Medina, México 3887. Orozco y Berra, Materials para una cartografía mexicana 1829: “El plano de Sigüenza se adoptara de preferencia, sirviendo de base á los estudios que se emprendieron acerca del desagüe del Valle y de su configuración, casi hasta terminar el siglo XVIII. Esto es lo que concede celebridad á este plano, que fue copiado repetidas ocasiones.” Palau 66220. Ramirez, Bibliotheca Mejicana 27 (lacking map). Rich, Bibliotheca Americana Nova I, p. 91 (#10). Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, p. 508 (mentions engraver Antonio Onofre Moreno and the map). Sabin 27848 (notes some copies are dated 1747). Salvá 3765. Stevens, Historical Nuggets I:792: “This book is of the utmost typographical and historical importance.” Torres Lanzas, Relación descriptiva de los mapas, planos, de México y Floridas 164. Vindel, pp. 181-184 (double-page reproduction of map).

     Since Aztec times the drainage of the valley of Mexico had been of paramount concern to the inhabitants because of the numerous floods that had caused great destruction. These problems were aggravated by Cortes’ failure to restore the Native American dikes destroyed by military maneuvers during the Conquest, resulting in flood control projects as early as 1553. During the eighteenth century a series of public works, such as canals, tried to correct the problem. Unfortunately, the efforts were only partially successful, and the problem continued. This work contains a compilation of the acts, investigations, and surveys by various authorities relating to the “desagüe”—or drainage—up until the time of its publication and represents a very serious attempt to deal with the problem once and for all.

     The accompanying map printed in red is a mother map for the mapping of the Valley of Mexico, and among the most unusual and historic maps of Mexico produced in colonial times. Antonio Moreno engraved the map after one made in the late seventeenth century by Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645-1700), historian, mathematician, astronomer, poet, philosopher, antiquarian, and professor at the University of Mexico for over two decades. Sigüenza was “perhaps the most remarkable man born in Mexico during the viceregal period” (Wagner, Spanish Southwest 63). Sigüenza’s map appeared in print first in the present work. Apenes notes that the map encompasses the work of earlier cartographers while introducing new observations and making corrections. This strikingly handsome map combines a high aesthetic of printing and design and the latest methods of cartography.

     This imprint is from the printing of establishment of master printer José Bernardo de Hogal (?-1741), considered to be the Ibarra of Mexico. The present work was published after Hogal’s death, when his widow took over the press.

     In colonial Mexico, as in most of the rest of the world, a woman’s official place was in the home, and a life lived quietly in the domestic sphere leaves little trace in the historical record. Uncovering the history of women in Latin America is therefore problematic, and it is difficult to ascertain the level of women’s involvement in various economic activities outside the home.... Although barred from entering most of the trade guilds, women commanded a sizable minority of weavers, spinners, bakers, tobacco processors, and other skilled trades by the seventeenth century. Printing was no exception.... As Carolina Amor de Fournier notes, printing was one of the few activities with public impact in which Mexican women could engage during the colonial period. As in Europe and the North American colonies, a majority of the women printers in Mexico were widows or heirs to male printers. Most did not use their own names in their imprints but rather designated themselves “viuda”—widow—of the original press owner....

     When Hogal died in 1741, his widow, whose name is unknown, took ownership of the press, printing as “La Viuda de Don Joseph Bernardo de Hogal,” and sometimes additionally as “Impressora del Real y Apostólico Tribunal de la Santa Cruzada” (Printer of the Royal and Apostolic Tribunal of the Holy Crusade). The number of Hogal’s employees suggests that she would have been more of a business manager than a printer herself. However, she showed considerable initiative, printing Mexico’s second periodical, Mercurio de México, and issuing numerous news sheets. She must also have shared Hogal’s emphasis on quality, because the press produced its finest and most important books under her leadership.... Hogal’s widow managed the press until her death in 1755. (Kelli Hansen, Mujeres de la Prensa: Women Printers in Colonial Mexico, 1600-1815, Exhibition Catalogue, Studies in the Book Arts, University of Texas at Austin, 2008, pp. 2-3 & 20).


Sold. Hammer: $6,500.00; Price Realized: $7,962.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: