Colored Issue of Antiquities of Mexico
Viscount Kingsborough, 1830-48
KINGSBOROUGH, Edward King, Viscount (1795-1837). Antiquities of Mexico: comprising fac-similes of ancient Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics...together with the monuments of New Spain, by M. Dupaix ... the drawings on stone by A. Aglio. London: A. Aglio, 1830 [vols I-V]; Robert Havell, Colnaghi Son and Co., 1831 [vols VI-VII]; and Henry G. Bohn, 1848 [vols VIII-IX].
A fine copy of the colored issue of the greatest illustrated work on Mexican antiquities. The first issue of vols I-V, with titles dated 1830 and giving Augustine Aglio as publisher. As stated on the titles of vols I-VII, the work was intended to contain seven volumes; the last two volumes were published by Bohn in 1848 as a supplement based on the author’s notes. In 1831 Aglio transferred the stock of all seven volumes to Havell and Colnaghi, who printed new title pages with their address and the current date. Copies like the present one that retain the original title pages are uncommon.
The story of Kingsborough’s fateful obsession with Mexican manuscripts is well known: during his studies at Oxford he became fascinated by one of the Bodleian's manuscripts—the very one described by Samuel Purchas in volume III of his 1626 Purchas his Pilgrimes—and decided to devote himself to the study of Central American manuscripts and artifacts. With the support of Sir Thomas Philipps, many of whose manuscripts are described in the Antiquities, he employed the Italian painter Augustine Aglio to scour Europe’s greatest libraries and private collections for Mexican manuscripts to sketch, and later lithograph, for publication. Besides Aglio's reproductions of manuscripts in the Bodleian, the Vatican Library, the Borgian Museum, the Imperial Library of Vienna, the Library of the Institute at Bologna, and the royal libraries of Paris, Berlin, Dresden, and Budapest, the work includes Dupaix's Monuments of New Spain, taken from Castañeda's original drawings, and descriptions of sculptures and artifacts from several private collections. The text, with sections in Spanish, English, French and Italian, includes Sahagun’s Historia de la Nueva España and the chronicles of Tezozomoc and Ixltlilxochitl. The immense project cost Kingsborough £32,000 and his life: in 1837 he died of typhus contracted in prison in Dublin, a few days after being arrested for a debt to a paper manufacturer. His father the Earl of Kingston died a few months later; Kingsborough would have stood to inherit an annual estate of £40,000. Brunet III, 663; Lipperheide Md11; Palau y Dulcet 128006; Sabin 37800.
9 volumes, large folio (533 x 360mm). 742 plates, comprising: 732 lithographs mostly by Aglio, of which 584 finely hand-colored, with 39 of these colored in part only and nine heightened in red; and 148 uncolored, 130 of these are chalk lithographs on mounted India paper; 4 engravings, one colored; 6 aquatints, one folding; 2 lithographed tables; the 60-page section for the projected vol. X bound in at end of vol. IX (thin wove paper guards bound into vol. 3 only, some light spotting, scattered mostly marginal light foxing or discoloration; vol. IV more heavily foxed, especially paper mounts; a single short marginal tear to vol. IX title and to 2 or 3 text leaves; very slight wear along folds of folding plates’ minor soft creases to titles of vols. VIII and IX and last leaf of vol. VIII; plate numbers added in pencil and occasionally in ink on many leaves). Contemporary green half morocco gilt, all edges gilt (slightly rubbed, a few small scrapes to boards; Zambrano library label on front pastedowns). Provenance: Christopher Turnor (1809-1886, British politician; Stoke Rochford Library bookplate) – sold: Sotheby's London, 24 April 1987, lot 303 – sold: Christie's New York, 11 November 1994, lot 45.
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