Some Eighteenth Century Historians
Alexander von Humboldt
Revolution & Independence
Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity
Emergence of Mexico
exhibit from the Department of Rare Books & Special Collections
displays illustrated books and maps about Mexico from the sixteenth
century through the late nineteenth century. The exhibit
documents the gradual process by which the cultures and history of
pre-Columbian Mexico were described and published in Spain, in rival
European countries such as the Netherlands, Britain, and France, in
Mexico itself, and in the United States.
Most of the books on display have been
in the USC library since the 1830's and 1840's. They are dramatic
evidence of the intellectual ambitions of the original South Carolina
College and of the worldwide range of the books that were purchased
for its library. The oldest item on display is an engraving of Mexico
city printed in 1565, from the Italian writer Ramusio’s Voyages.
Other early works include illustrations of Aztec customs by the
German Theodor de Bry from 1594 and Dutch engraved maps from the
seventeenth century by the Dutchmen De Laet and Montanus.
Some of the most impressive volumes are
from the early nineteenth century, in Alexander von Humboldt’s great
folio Vue des Cordelleres et Monumens des Peuples Indigene de
l’Amerique (Paris, 1810) and Lord Kingsborough’s seven-volume
Antiquities of Mexico (London, 1830), with its colored facsimiles of
pre-Columbian illuminated manuscripts. The architecture of the
pre-Columbian Aztec and Mayan cultures is represented both from
Kingsborough’s work and from the American J. L. Stephens’s books about
the Yucatan (1841, 1843). Of special note in the final case is a copy
of the Mexican military code of justice owned by General Santa Anna.
Director, Rare Books & Special Collections