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The Mexican Treasury
Francisco Hernandez, 1628
HERNÁNDEZ, Francisco (1517-1587) and RECCHI, Nardo Antonio (1540-1595). Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae thesaurus; seu, Plantarum animalium mineralium Mexicanorum historia. Rome: Jacobus Mascardus, 1628.

Recchi's redaction of the famous "Mexican Treasury," published for Federico Cesi and the Accademia dei Lincei. With a royal budget of 80,000 ducats, Hernández—protomedico general of all the Indies and personal physician to Philip II—set out to record the flora and fauna of Central America with special attention to their pharmacological properties. After a long delay which frustrated the king, Hernández sent back sixteen illustrated manuscript volumes of reports from his expedition, including not only his own observations but "specimens from the last of the great Aztec gardens at the hospital of Huaztepec, as well as a few from the collection put together a century before by the Aztec king Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco" (Freedberg). The Escorial librarian Fray Jose de Siguenza described their contents as "offer[ing] great delight and variety to those who look at it; and no small profit to those whose task it is to consider nature." Many of the species names are given in Nahuatl.

In the 1580s, the Neapolitan physician Nardo Antonio Recchi was hired to organize and edit Hernandez’s vast archive. After a failed attempt at publication, he returned to Naples with his completed project, which soon caught the attention of the Accademia dei Lincei. Although Recchi was famously secretive about his manuscripts, after a long campaign the renowned collector Federico Cesi gained access to them and embarked upon a publication project to create a paper cabinet of curiosities of the New World to match the wunderkammern of Europe. Many of the brightest stars of the Lincei consulted on this publication, including Galileo. This edition appeared in 1628, but two years later Cesi's death put the project on pause again until Stelluti’s enlargement in 1651. A shorter abridgement of Hernández's work was first published in 1615 in Mexico City. His original manuscripts were destroyed in the Escorial fire and Recchi's work is all that remains of his research. Garrison-Morton 1821.1; Nissen BBI 861 and ZBI 1908; see Hunt 247 (1651 ed.) and David Freedberg, The Eye of the Lynx, pp. 245-274.

Folio (314 x 219mm). Engraved title page, woodcut illustrations of flora and fauna, woodcut vignettes and initials (engraved title trimmed and folded to fit text-block, outer edge chipped; some browning and spotting; repaired tear affecting text on p. 912; several leaves of the chart bound at end trimmed). 19th-century calf, red morocco title piece (boards somewhat scuffed, chips to spine ends, rear flyleaf detached and bearing Zambrano library label). Provenance: Bibliothèque de Mr. Gerardo Fernández Blanco (bibliophile and bookseller in Buenos Aires; bookseller’s stamp) – Joaquín Cortina Goribar (1906-1991, Mexican historian; bookplate).
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Selections from the Library of Lorenzo H. Zambrano: Latin Americana, Science, and Literature
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