South & Central America<br>From Flo Silver Books
By Michael Stillman
Flo Silver Books has issued their Catalogue 69, “Mexico, Central, and South America: Art & Archaeology + Discovery & Conquest of the New World: Cortes, Diaz del Castillo, Gage, Las Casas.” The nice thing about a Flo Silver catalogue is you don’t have to describe its subject. The title says it all.
This catalogue contains 581 items pertaining to Central and South America, with the heaviest concentration in the fields of art and architecture. Many are fairly obscure titles which will be of interest to those who either collect or conduct research within a particular niche. All titles in the catalogue are affordable. You will have to search carefully for the books priced over $100.
One of the greatest Spanish voyagers to the New World was not a sea captain. Bartolome de las Casas was a lay teacher who later became a priest. He traveled to the island of Hispaniola where his settlement of an Indian uprising earned him the reward of an encomienda. In an “encomienda,” a Spanish settler was made “protector” over a group of Indians on a piece of what had been their land. In return, the settler was given possession of the land and the Indians were required to work it on his behalf. The Indians effectively became slaves.
Las Casas viewed the system as a possessor and disliked what he saw. He renounced his own grant and would spend half a century fighting the abuses of this system and other mistreatment of the Indians. Largely through his efforts on return trips to Spain, the encomienda system was abolished. Las Casas would be known as the “Protector of the Indians.” He would spend many years defending their rights in Mexico, Central and South America, before retiring to Spain. There are 16 items pertaining to Las Casas in this catalogue. Among these are Bartoleme de Las Casas. “Father of the Indians” by Marcel Brion, published in 1929 (Item 56, $75); Las Casas’ own Historia de las Indias, a three-volume set printed in Mexico in 1951 (Item 55, $150); and The Life of Las Casas, “The Apostle of the Indies” by Arthur Helps, printed in London in 1868 (Item 65. $125). An interesting take on his career is offered in Bartoleme de Las Casas. Bookman, Scholar & Propagandist. This was taken from the Rosenbach lectures at the University of Pennsylvania in 1951. Evidently La Casas was also a bookman. Item 61. $35.
South America had a long history before the first Spanish explorer set foot on the continent. Most of this history has had to be pieced together through archaeological finds. Karen Bruhns’ Ancient South America is a recent title which “examines the ten millennia of pre-history before the Incas.” Item 133. $35.