Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2007 Issue
Mexico and Latin America from Plaza Books
By Michael Stillman
The latest from Plaza Books, List 21, recently arrived. It offers 40 items of interest to those who collect Latin America, Mexico and Central America in particular. Not surprisingly, most are in the Spanish language, although there are a good number in English as well. There is also material appropriate to collections of the American Southwest as, after all, this was once part of Mexico. Here are a few titles Plaza Books now has available.
Item 1 is one of the more important, if flawed histories of early Mexico. The author is Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, a descendant of ancient royalty of Texcoco (a then large city near current Mexico City). Ixtlilxochitl wrote of pre-conquest Mexico in the early 17th century, well after that conquest occurred and Spanish influence was established. Consequently, his history is not that of an eyewitness, nor entirely objective. However, he did have access to the oral history of his people and was able to speak to the elders who possessed the most knowledge. He provides history from the perspective of his tribe of Indians rather than that of the Spanish. Ixtlilxochitl's writings were only available in manuscript at the time, and were not printed until much later. This title, Horribles Crueldades de Los Conquistadores de Mexico … is a first edition, but was not published until 1829. Priced at $1,850.
Here is a group of sermons primarily in a language Ixtlilxochitl spoke -- Nahuatl (or Najuatl). Nahuatl is a native language still spoken in many areas of Mexico by those of Aztec roots. Item 26 is Promptuario Manual Mexicano by Ignacio de Paredes, published in 1759. Father Paredes was dedicated to teaching the natives of the New World the beliefs of the old, so most of this book is in their language rather than Spanish. Item 26. $3,850.
Jose Maria Chavez was a leading citizen of Aguascalientes in Mexico. He was a craftsman, later publisher, and a provincial governor. One of his publications was El Artesano, published from 1856-7. Item 8 is a run of this publication from volume 1 number 1 through volume 2 number 6, likely a complete run. It includes news, local notices, political opinion and practical advice. When the French invaded the country during the 1860s and installed Emperor Maximillian, Chavez gathered a band of citizens together to defend Mexico's independence. He was captured and executed on April 5, 1864. This is a rare periodical and an uncommon Aguascalientes imprint. $1,850.