Mexico:

an exhibition chiefly from the books of the 
South Carolina College Library


 Introduction | 16th Century | 17th Century | Some 18th Century Historians | Alexander Von Humbolt | Revolution & Independence | Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity | Emergence of Mexico

Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity
 

plate 23Kingsborough’s Antiquities of Mexico, I

Kingsborough, Edward King, viscount, 1795-1837.
Antiquities of Mexico: comprising fac-similes of ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics, preserved in the royal libraries of Paris, Berlin and Dresden, in the Imperial library of Vienna, in the Vatican library; in the Borgian museum at Rome; in the library of the Institute at Bologna; and in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Together with the Monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix: with their respective scales of measurement and accompanying descriptions. The whole illustrated by many valuable inedited manuscripts, by Augustine Aglio. 
Vol. I.  
London: Aglio, 1830.  Contemporary mottled calf. (Vol. 1, plate 23).

The high point of the South Carolina College library’s books on Mexico is surely Lord Kingsborough’s sumptuously-produced illustrated sequence, a nine-volume series that starts out with facsimiles of all the major Mexican manuscript codices in European libraries, by the engraver Agostino Aglio (1777-1857).   Edward King, son of the Irish Earl of Kingsborough, first caught sight of a Mexican manuscript in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library while he was an undergraduate, and that moment set the future purpose of his life.  Shown here is a facsimile of a pre-Columbian Mixtec codex, one of those preserved in Thomas Bodley’s own collection in the Bodleian. 


plate 27From a Pre-Columbian Illuminated Codex

Plate 27 "Mexican Painting preserved in the Borgia Museum, at the College of Propaganda in Rome," in Lord Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico. Vol. III.  
London: Aglio, 1830.


plate 137Kingsborough’s Antiquities of Mexico, II

Kingsborough, Edward King, viscount, 1795-1837.
Antiquities of Mexico: comprising fac-similes of ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics. . . . The whole illustrated by many valuable inedited manuscripts, by Augustine Aglio. 
Volume II. 
London: Aglio, 1830. Contemporary mottled calf.  (Vol. II, plate 137).

This illustration, from "A Copy of a Mexican Manuscript Preserved in the Library of the Vatican," dates from the post-Conquest period, depicting the encounter between the Spanish invaders and central American resistance.   The drawings (at least in this copy) also show the displacement or overlaying of pre-Columbian style with Europeanized visual forms. 


Kingsborough’s Antiquities of Mexico, III

Kingsborough, Edward King, viscount, 1795-1837. Antiquities of Mexico: . . . Together with the Monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix: with their respective scales of measurement and accompanying descriptions. The whole illustrated. Vol. IV.  
London: Aglio, 1830. (Vol. IV, plate I. 14)

After three volumes of codices, Kingsborough’s fourth volume was largely devoted to reproducing drawings and plans of Mexican antiquities by Guilermo Dupaix, originally prepared for the King of Spain.  It was Kingsborough and Aglio’s last volume of illustrations.  Inexplicably staying with the same huge format, Kingsborough prepared further volumes of explanatory text, ranging from a valuable edition of the Franciscan Bernadino de Sahagun’s 16th-century description of pre-Columbian Aztec culture to his own speculations on the origins of Aztec culture in one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.  As the project expanded (he had originally projected seven volumes, and eventually prepared nine-and-a-half), he had to switch publishers, and in 1839, while he was in prison in Dublin for debts to a paper supplier, he succumbed to typhus with his great project still incomplete.  The South Carolina College set ends with the original seven volumes, before H.G. Bohn issued the additional two volumes.  


monumentIllustrations of Pre-Columbian Architecture

From Guilermo Dupaix, Monuments of New Spain . . .  with their respective scales of measurement and accompanying descriptions, in Lord Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico. Vol. IV. 
London: Aglio, 1830. 


mexican sculpture2

mexican sculpture1Two engravings of Illustrations of Pre-Columbian Sculptures

From "Specimens of Mexican sculpture in the possession of M. Latour Allard in Paris," in Lord Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico. Vol. IV.  
London: Aglio, 1830. 

 

An American in Yucatan, I

Stephens, John Lloyd, 1805-1852.
Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. 
2 vols.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1841.  Original gold-stamped cloth.

John Lloyd Stephens, a New York lawyer, first won recognition as a travel writer with his Incidents of Travel in Egypt . . . and the Holy Land (1837), rapidly followed by Incidents of Travel in Greece, Russia Turkey and Poland(1838).  Sent to Central America by President Van Buren in 1839 on an ill-defined diplomatic mission, he took with him the artist Frederick Catherwood, publishing this book in 1841. 


An American in Yucatan, II

Stephens, John Lloyd, 1805-1852.
Incidents of travel in Yucatan. 
2 vols. 
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847.   Rebound.

After the publication and success of their first book, Stephens and Catherwood returned to Mexico in 1841, specifically to describe and draw the mysterious, lost and ruined cities of which they had been told.   


 


Further American Notes on Yucatan

Norman, Benjamin Moore, 1809-1860.
Rambles in Yucatan; or, Notes of travel through the peninsula, including a visit to the ruins of Chi-chen, Kabah, Zayi, and Uxmal.  
2d ed. 
New York: Langley, 1842. Green calf stamped "South Carolina College Library."

Moore was more of a journalist than a scholar, but his book’s presence in the College library attests to contemporary interest in its subject. 


Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico

Prescott, William Hickling, 1796-1859.
History of the conquest of Mexico: with a preliminary view of the ancient Mexican civilization, and the life of the conqueror, Hernando Cortez. 
3 vols. 
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1868. Contemporary half calf.  Bookplate of Henry H. Ficken.

Soon after graduating from Harvard (A.B. 1814), where he lost an eye in a food-fight, the invalid Bostonian W.H. Prescott set himself to become theAmerican expert on Spanish history.  His three-volume Ferdinand and Isabella (1838) established his reputation, but his epic narrative on the Conquest of Mexico, originally published in 1843 and written much more quickly, was more widely successful and remained influential and in print well into the twentieth century.  

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