Basic Book on the Missions of Texas & Guatemala

With one of the Earliest Engraved Portraits of a Person Outstanding in Texas History

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136. ESPINOSA, Isidro Félix de. El Peregrino Septentrional Atlante: Delineado en la Exemplarissima Vida del Venerable Padre F. Antonio Margil de Jesús, Fruto de la Floridissima Ciudad de Valencia, Hijo de su Seraphica Observante Provincia, Predicador Missionero, Notario Apostolico, Comissario del Santo Officio, Fundador, y ex Guardian de tres Colegios, Prefecto de las Missiones de Propaganda Fide en todas las Indias Occidentales, y aclamado de la piedad por Nuevo Apóstol de Guatemala.... Mexico: Por Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, Ministro é Impressor del Real, y Apostolico Tribunal de la Santa Cruzada en todo este Reyno, año de 1737. [38], 1-456 [4] pp. (text printed in double columns), title printed in red and black within typographical border, wood-engraved illustration of St. Anthony of Padua on p. [3], copper-engraved plate: V.R. de el V.P.F. Antonio Margil de Jesús. Predr. Prost. Guard | y Fundador de los tres Colegios de la SS. Cruz de Quertaro Guatema. | Zacatecas. Murio de 70 años á 6 de Agosto, de 1726 (Father Margil preaching to Native Americans, barefoot in patched habit, holding a crucifix before praying Native Americans whose costumes and accoutrements include feathered headdresses, bows, and arrows), signed in image at lower right: Sotom. ex. [Joaquín Sotomayor]; occasional wood-engraved text ornamentation. 4to (20.5 x 15.7 cm), twentieth-century full terracotta levant morocco, spine lettered in gilt and with raised bands, gilt-ruled inner dentelles, gilt lettered on lower dentelle: Bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, London, England. Preserved in terracotta cloth slipcase. Small hole at lower right blank margin of title page, which is slightly worn with a very minor chips (not affecting type or border), occasional very light marginal staining at lower margins, otherwise a fine copy, the portrait plate of Father Margil in excellent condition, fresh and a strong impression. Old ink note on title verso: “Es de la Compañía de María y Enseñanza de Tudela.” Rare in fine condition and with the engraved portrait of Father Margil.

     First edition, the preferred variant with the title page printed in red and black. There are two settings of the title, the priority of which has not been determined. The present copy has the title as described and reproduced by Wagner, with “Santo” on line 10 and “Con Licencia” in the first line of the imprint. Pages 426-427 are not censored, unlike most copies which were defaced by the Inquisition because of references to the apocalyptic cherub Uriel. Another edition of this work was printed in Spain in 1742. This Mexican edition is preferred—in addition to being the first edition and a noteworthy American imprint, the Mexican edition was created by master printer Hogal, considered to be the Ibarra of Mexico. Basic Texas Books 59A. Beristáin de Souza, Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional (1883), Vol. I, p. 41. Eberstadt, Texas 162:287. Fifty Texas Rarities 5. Graff 1260. Harper 14, Americana Iberica 338: “One of the most important books ever issued for the study of Southwestern history.” Howell 50, California 494. Howes E84. Jones, Adventures in Americana 444. Leclerc, Biblotheca Americana (1878) 1129. LC, Texas Centennial Exhibition 40. Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial, Register No. 3461: “Joaquín Sotomayor engraved...Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús preaching to the Indians of Texas in Fray Isidro Felix de Espinosa, El Peregrino Septentrional Atlante...1737.” Medina, México3461. Palau 82703. Raines, p. 78. Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores de la Nueva España, pp. 537-538 (plate cited on p. 537). Wagner, Spanish Southwest 102: “Father Antonio Margil is particularly noted in Southwest history for his expedition to Texas in 1716 and the founding of the missions in northeast Texas.” Tate (The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography) in a reference to a modern printing of one of Espinosa’s reports, comments: “Describes in great detail numerous cultural and material aspects of the Tejas people who resided in the vicinity of present Nacogdoches. An absolutely essential primary source for researchers.”

     This account was written by a leading participant in the founding of the first truly successful mission settlements in Texas. Padres Antonio Margil (1657-1726) and Isidro Félix de Espinosa (1679-1755) established a mission base in East Texas with the assistance of the Domingo Ramón expedition (1716). During the “Chicken War” of 1719, the six missions and presidio in East Texas were abandoned, and the Spanish population withdrew to San Antonio, where Margil founded the most successful of all Texas missions, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo. Margil’s labors not only resulted in the first permanent civil settlement of Texas but vitiated possible French encroachment into Spanish Territory. Margil converted many Native Americans from Texas, Mexico, Yucatan, and Central America. He founded two colleges in Guatemala and Mexico and is associated with the rebirth of the Franciscan apostolate in Mexico, and later Guatemala, Panama, and most of South America. This work is of equal importance for a collection on Guatemala, where Margil is known as the Apostle of Guatemala. See Handbook of Texas Online: Antonio Margil de Jesús; Isidro Felix de Espinosa.

     “Arguably the most famous missionary to serve in Texas” (Chipman), Antonio Margil de Jesús remains under consideration for sainthood by the Vatican. On the 250th anniversary of Margil’s death (1726), a date that would coincide with the bicentennial of the United States, a campaign was launched in the United States to advance Margil from Venerable to Blessed. However, the Franciscan Postulator General in Rome advised his advocates that “two new miracles—extraordinary favors obtained from God through the intercession of the Venerable Fr. Margil—are required for beatification.” Margil has been spared the rancor of Native Americans that has been directed against California missionary Serra. Margil is thought to have been gentle and never used corporal punishment (except on himself). Consult Donald E. Chipman & Harriett Denise Joseph, Notable Men and Women of Spanish Texas, (Austin: University of Texas, 1999, pp. 82-83).

     The handsome, precisely engraved portrait of Margil is among the earliest engraved or woodcut portraits of a person outstanding in Texas history. There are two other possible candidates for primacy in the genre of Texas portraiture. The first would be the Flying Blue Nun, María de Jesús de Agreda, who made mystical flights from Spain to convert the Indians of East Texas and the Southwest (see Abernethy, Legendary Ladies of Texas, pp. 7-14, and Wagner, Spanish Southwest 92, woodcut in a 1732 edition of Benavides with stylized simple woodcut of a nun, Plate LXX). The second possibility is LaSalle, who appears in a few engravings of scenes of his scintillating but genuine adventures, concluding with his assassination near present-day Navasota, Texas (see, e.g., Nicolas de Fer’s Les Costes aux environs de la Riviere de Misisipi... Paris, 1705, and Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas: 1554-1900, pp. 16-17). Those pretty little images may well be French flights of fancy. The present portrait of Margil seems more grounded in reality.


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

Auction 23 Abstracts

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Usually censored by Inquisition

Usually censored by Inquisition

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