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Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(MEXICO.) Diego Duran; edited by José F. Ramírez. Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y islas de tierra firme. 66 handcolored plates. 3 volumes. xvi, 535; , 304, , 177; 1 pages. 4to, contemporary 1/4 calf over marbled boards, minor wear; minor foxing, 4 scattered plates with dampstaining or water damage before binding (as usual). Mexico, 1867 and 1880
First edition, from a manuscript on Aztec history written nearly 300 years earlier by a Dominican friar from 1578 to 1581, with an emphasis on the reign of Moctezuma II. Many other authors relied on Duran's manuscript and the pre-Cortés codices which he had gathered. According to Bancroft's History of Mexico (page I:420), "the preparation of the work was more directly prompted by a compassion for the maltreated natives, whose champion he constituted himself. . . . He was born at Tezcuco, of a native mother. . . . It is relieved by an admirable portrayal of character and knowledge of human nature, and by a minute study of the effect of conversion on the natives." The first volume was published in 1867, and contained the first 68 chapters of Duran's work. The editor was the noted Mexican historian and collector José Fernando Ramírez (1804-1871). With the fall of Maximilian, Ramírez fled Mexico before the final two volumes could be released. Bancroft stated that the publication was suppressed after the first volume was released. The second and third volume were released 13 years later, with a short preface by Gumesindo Mendoza, director of the Museo Nacional. The third volume, subtitled "Atlas," consists of a title page bound with 66 hand-colored plates lithographed by Jules Desportes, reproducing the "Codex Ixtlilxochitl" now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Palau 77422; Sabin 21405 ("The entire edition of the first volume, with the exception of a small number of copies, distributed privately by the author, as well as the Atlas, has been confiscated by the Mexican government"). We trace one set at an American auction since 1982, and that was with plates uncolored.
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