Copper-Engraved Folding Bird’s-Eye View of Zacatecas in 1732

Including Information on Father Margil, Founder of Missions in the Borderlands, New Mexico & Texas

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509. RIVERA BERNÁRDEZ, José de. Descripcion breve de la muy noble, y leal ciudad de Zacatecas. Su Situacion, que la engrandece; Signos, que la señorean; Planeta, que la domína; Vezinos, que la ilustran; Minas, que la enriquecen; Gastos, que la mayorizan; y lo demás memorable, con algunas noticias del Iman de los corazones, Christo Señor Nuestro, en su admirable, portentosa Imagen, y algunos de sus maravillosos Prodigios.... Impressa en México: Por Joseph Bernardo de Hogal, Ministro, ê Impressor del Real, y Apostolico Tribunal de la Santa Cruzada en toda esta Nueva-España, 1732. [10], 1-60, 57-90, [2] pp. (text complete), 2 copper-engraved plates plus folding bird’s-eye view (see below), title within typographical border, second leaf with large woodcut of arms of dedicatee Juan Manuel de Oliván Rebolledo. 4to (20.7 x 15.8 cm), original limp vellum, sepia title on spine, ties missing, front hinge open, stitching broken (text block almost separated from binding), first two leaves trimmed with very slight loss at top. Generally a fine copy, with marca de fuego (“S. Fernando”) on upper edges. Rare (Biblioteca Nacional de Mexico, Newberry, Bancroft, and NYPL, the last lacking plates and view; other copies on OCLC are the reprint). In this copy the plates are in excellent, dark impressions. The only copy we find sold on the open market was the Harmsworth copy in 1952, which may well be the present copy, based on binding and condition.


[1]  Untitled, unattributed armorial plate of arms of Zacatecas including depictions of Zacatecan founders Baltazar Temiño de Bañuelos, Diego de Ibara, Juan de Tolosa, and Cristóbal de Oñate.

[2]  Retrato de la Milagrosissima Imagen del Sto.Christo q’ se venera en la Parrochía de la Ciudad de Nrâ. Sa. de los Zacatecas... (signed in image by Joseph de Araujo). crucifixion image, Christ shown with ornate patterned loin cloth with large bow, set against a uniform background of floral motifs in squares, title within complex scroll. Unusual.

[3]  [Bird’s-eye view with title at lower right] Descripcion breve de la Muy Noble, y muy Leal Ciudad de Zacatecas; [lower left above neat line]: Joach. de Soto Mayor S.; [keys at upper left and upper right]; [scale at lower left in border with head of a man and paws at bottom] Escala de 300 baras. Neat line to neat: 21.5 x 30 cm; overall sheet size: 25.2 x 35 cm). Unusual perspective in that the lower half of the image is inverted.

     First edition of the first separately printed history of the city of Zacatecas (although its history is mentioned in other earlier chronicles). Beristain I:164. Mathes, La Ilustración en México colonial, Register 3256. Medina, México 3256 (incorrectly calling for 9 pages of index at end and locating only the British Museum copy). Palau 270274 (calling for 92 pages and one leaf of index). Ramírez 103. Romero de Terreros, Grabados y grabadores en la Nueva España, p. 538 (citing map). Sabin 4950, 71629 & 76862.

     A history of the city of Zacatecas, including public establishments, churches, famous people who lived there, miracles, etc. This is an important book for mining history in America because Zacatecas was the site of the first great mine strike in post-conquest Mexico. The book is notable for its fine engravings, including a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the city which incorporates an unusual perspective trick of having the southern part of the city inverted. The view is not in El Territorio Mexicano.

     The two chapters, “Punto IX. De los Varones Ilustres, que en Santidad han florecido en esta Ciudad” and “Punto X. Otros insignes Varones en virtud, y letras, y celebres Matronas, que han ilustrado esta Nobilisima Ciudad” (pp. 50-66) are something of a Who’s Who of early Mexican history. It contains an early reference in print to Father Antonio Margil de Jesús, who is considered the father of Spanish Texas because his labors resulted in the first permanent civil settlement of Texas. Margil is known as the Apostle of both Texas and Guatemala, because of his founding activities in both regions. Margil died in 1726 and was beatified by the Vatican in 1836. Currently he is under consideration for canonization as the apostle of Texas. In Texas Father Margil is already regarded as the patron saint of Texas. Margil’s name is mentioned in the present work in conjunction with the author’s discussion of the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas, the Franciscan missionary college established under the auspices of the College of Santa Cruz de Querétaro. Margil took charge of the College in 1707 (see pp. 51-52, 58). Eventually the missionaries from the College of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe founded eight missions in Texas and later performed the initial missionary work along the lower Rio Grande between Laredo and the Gulf of Mexico.

     The author mentions New Mexico several times (pp. 59, etc.), and the book is worth researching further for mention of Juan de Oñate and the missions and expeditions to New Mexico. Cristóbal de Oñate, a founder of Zacatecas, was the son of Juan de Oñate. He is one of the founders depicted in the engraved coat of arms of the city of Zacatecas.

     Rivera Bernández (d. 1743), a noble Zacatecan native, inherited the title of Second Conde de Santiago de la Laguna from his uncle. This book is his most important publication. Printer Hogal is considered the Ibarra of Mexico.


Sold. Hammer: $5,000.00; Price Realized: $6,125.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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