Spanish American Books and Manuscripts from Libreria de Antano
Fine Books & Manuscripts 1528-1966 from Liberia de Antano
By Michael Stillman
Libreria de Antano, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, offers some of the finest books and manuscripts of Spanish America. That is not all that they present, but certainly it is their concentration. Most works are in the Spanish language as well, although there are also titles in English, French, German and other languages offered. Their latest catalogue is titled A Selection of Fine Books & Manuscripts 1528-1966. Let's take a look inside.
Item 18 is a large paper copy of one of the best histories of the first two centuries of Florida. Florida was much larger then than it is today, encompassing much of the land of neighboring southern states, but this "Florida" exceeds even the most generous of boundaries. It extends as far north as Canada and west as New Mexico. It is practically what is now known as the United States. The book is Ensayo cronologico para la historia general de la Florida. The stated author, Cardenas Z. Cano, is actually Andres Gonzales Barcia. The book recounts many of the early explorations starting from Florida's discovery by Ponce de Leon in 1512. It provides some of the best reports on the 16th century rivalry for the land between Spain and France, as well as information about the local Indians. However, it also includes such extended Florida material as La Salle's exploration of Lake Erie and the story of Pocahontas. The book was published in 1723. Priced at $4,000.
Item 56 is something of an expose of two centuries of Spanish misconduct and cruelty in the Americas. Created as a confidential report to the Spanish King Ferdinand VI by Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, it remained hidden for over half a century, until published in London by David Barry in 1826 under the title Noticias secretas de America. It reports on terrible abuses of the Indians, not only by Spanish officials by my missionaries as well. It also describes corruption and scandals in government and the inadequate defenses of the land provided. This once hidden report proved that abuses described two centuries earlier by Father Bartolome de las Casas, believed to be exaggerations, were not only true, but continued little changed for another two hundred years. $3,950.
When King Ferdinand died, he was remembered well by the Jesuits of Ecuador. They published Panegirico Funebre que a la dulce y venerable memoria de Nuestro Rey Fernando VI...in his memory in 1761, two years after he died. This is just the fifth imprint from Ecuador, and while the copy is incomplete, it is likely the best you will find. Libreria de Antano points out that this is the only known copy. Item 32. $3,500. Here is another item of comparable rarity: Memorias de la Sociedad Patriotica de la Havana. Published in Havana in 1793, it is a memorial to a society established by the King to promote trade, agriculture, and other such civic activities in Cuba. This, too, is an only known copy. Item 44. $4,500.
Spanish American Books and Manuscripts from Libreria de Antano
Signed letter, constitution, and other items related to Simon Bolivar.
One of the most popular North American poems in the Spanish-speaking world is El Cuervo. For those a little rusty with their Spanish, this is Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Item 82 is an 1887 translation by J.A. Perez Bonalde. He is said to have done the best job yet of adapting the metrical form of the original to the Spanish language. Item 82. $1,800.
Another popular, though not universally beloved, export from America is Coca Cola. Evidently poet Rafael Alberti of Argentina was not pleased with the ubiquitous soft drink. Item 99 is a signed and inscribed manuscript poem expressing his disgust at the company he viewed as an evil empire. Can you say, "Pepsi please?" $5,700.
There is perhaps no greater hero to South America than Simon Bolivar. Known as the "Liberator" and the "George Washington of South America," Bolivar was the person most responsible for overthrowing Spanish rule on that continent. Today's Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, and, naturally, Bolivia (named for Bolivar) owe their freedom to him. Item 57 includes an autographed letter from Bolivar to Antonio Jose de Sucre in response to an invitation to participate in the drafting of the Bolivian Constitution. Bolivar wished this to be a model for other states freed from Spanish rule as well. An original copy of this constitution is included with the letter. Price on request.
Item 60 is another Bolivar letter, this time to his sister Antonia Bolivar de Clemente. Dated August 9, 1828, the four-page letter is signed, "I am your, Lovingly, S. Bolivar." Letters from Bolivar to family are very rare. Price on request. One final, and rather strange Bolivar item, published 36 years after his death, is offered. It is La ultima enfermedad, los ultimos momentos y los funerales de Simon Bolivar...by Dr. A.P. Reverend. It is a day-by-day account of Bolivar's final illness, along with his autopsy, description of his funeral and last testament. The author was Bolivar's personal physician, and the book carries his inscription to Venezuelan writer Torres Caicedo. Item 78. $750.
Item 58 includes the unpublished manuscript diaries of two trips to South America, the first in the 1820s, the second in the 1850s, by William Bollaert. Bollaert is known for diaries he kept of travel to Texas during its Republic days in the 1840s. These were finally brought to press over a century later (1956) and published as "William Bollaert's Texas." It is one of the best resources on Texas during this period. These diaries of Chile, Peru, and other South American nations, which tell of industry, agriculture, and people, are as yet unpublished. Price on request.
Item 1 is a very rare autograph from the conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortes. Cortes is the one who led his men inland to the seat of the Aztec empire, where he was received as some sort of god. It gave him the foothold he needed to eventually destroy their civilization. Cortes would later go on to explore Baja California, but rivals would hold him back and he would end up more or less ignored in his final years. This signature predates 1528, as Cortes has signed with his name. After that he used the title El Marques. Price available on request.
Libreria de Antano may be reached at (5411) 48227178 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.