Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2007 Issue

Rare Mexicana (and American Southwest) from Plaza Books


List 23 from Plaza Books features Mexicana.

By Michael Stillman

Plaza Books
has issued their List 23, a selection of 31 items pertaining to Central America, primarily Mexico. Many items concern the American Southwest as well, as they go back to the days when California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona were part of Mexico, or even Spanish America. Others come from the early days of Mexican independence, or from later revolutions that brought the country to its modern era. Among the items offered are four rare Mexican broadsides from 1836 pertaining to the Texas Revolution. Other copies of these rarities were once part of Thomas Streeter's Texas collection later given to Yale University. Here are some of the listings in this catalogue.

Spain controlled Mexico for three centuries, but by the end of that period, control rapidly broke down. Item 7 is Ataque con el Silencio a todo enemigo de la imprenta libre, by "El Espanole Imparcial," a pseudonym for an unknown writer who probably lived in Mexico. It is a call for freedom of the press in Mexico, condemning limitations placed by Spanish law. The writer moves from calling simply for a free press to proposing independence. He would not have long to wait. This pamphlet was published in 1820, and the following year, Spain would cede independence to Mexico. Priced at $250.

Item 10 is a self-proclaimed defense by independent Mexico's first ruler, Agustin de Iturbide, aka Emperor Agustin I: Breve Diseno Critico de la Emancipacion y Libertad de la Nacion Mexico... Iturbide was in charge of Spanish military forces in Mexico when he switched sides to join the rebels. When the revolution succeeded, conservatives were still in control, and they wished to find a member of European royalty to serve as emperor. None being available, they selected Iturbide instead. In 1822 he was named Emperor Augustin I, but by the following year, his support had dwindled and a republic was established to replace the monarchy. Iturbide was forced to leave the country, but was granted a pension on the condition he never return, under penalty of death. Iturbide fled to Italy, and then London, where he wrote his self-defense. Unfortunately for Iturbide, he decided to ignore the terms of his exile and returned to Mexico in 1824. As promised, he was promptly executed. Offered is the first Mexican edition of 1827 of his defense. $1,150.

Item 12 is a signed letter from a Mexican leader of another era, Benito Juarez. Juarez led the reformation of the 1850s and became President in the 1860s. He would lead the opposition to the temporary rule of the French installed Emperor Maximilian. He returned to power when that regime was overthrown and served as president until his death in 1872. However, this is an earlier letter from Juarez while he was serving as Governor of Oaxaca. In it, he asks that a message be conveyed to the President that he was sending a regiment to put down a local uprising during the Mexican-American War in 1847. $2,250.

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