Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2007 Issue

Hispanica Americana from The Antique Bookshop

Antique4

A Vidal painting on the cover of the Antique Bookshop's Catalogo IV.


By Michael Stillman

The Antique Bookshop
(the shop of Libreria de Antano) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has issued its fourth catalogue of 100 Rare Books of Hispanica Americana. This is a collection of rare and highly collectible books pertaining to South and Central America. Titles may be found in the Spanish, English and French languages. Descriptions are provided in both Spanish and English, making the books readily accessible to collectors in North America and other lands where English is understood.

As many of these titles are quite old, collectors of European Americana will find a large selection of interesting material. Many describe expeditions to the southern half of the New World by French and British explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries. These are the books that are primarily written in English and French. Descriptions of this land by those native to it are mostly written in Spanish. Regardless of the language of the book, detailed descriptions in both Spanish and English are provided. Here are a few samples of these 100 rare books.

Item 15 offers an American look at South America at a critical time -- 1815-1820 -- as the Spanish empire was about to fall to indigenous revolutions. The book is Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American government in the years 1817 and 1818 in the Frigate Congress, published in London in 1820. Author Henry Brackenridge was a native of Pennsylvania who had moved to Louisiana and served as a judge. This brought him in contact with the Hispanic community and he learned to speak fluent Spanish. In 1817, he was sent to South America by President Monroe to report on what was happening in the restless Spanish colonies to the south. Brackenridge came back believing the U.S. should oppose further interference in the lands by European powers, a policy the President would later promulgate as the Monroe Doctrine. Priced at $1,200.

Item 87 is one of the finest early illustrated works on South America. The work is Picturesque illustrations of Buenos Ayres and Monte Video... by Emeric Essex Vidal. Vidal was an English painter who visited South America from 1816-1818, and it was during this trip he painted the 24 watercolors depicted on the color plates in this book. Vidal also wrote the accompanying text. This book was published in 1820 by famed British artistic printer Rudolf Ackermann. One of Vidal's paintings is seen on the cover of this Antique Bookshop catalogue (click the image above left to enlarge). $20,000.

Item 38 is an important three-volume work the Antique Bookshop describes as "the first history of Argentina" (and it includes a history of Paraguay): Ensayo de la historia civil del Paraguay, Buenos-Ayres y Tucuman, published in 1816-1817. Author Gregorio Funes had access to many documents, especially those of the revolutionary period from 1810 until Argentina's Declaration of Independence in 1816. The copy offered was the personal copy of the aforementioned Emeric Essex Vidal, signed and dated by him in 1821, and containing a note saying he paid the appropriate duty in Portsmouth in January 1822. Price on Request.

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