Madrid: Viuda de Manuel Fernandez, y Del. Supremo Consejo de la Inquisicion, 1757. Item #04483
The Most Prized of All California Books
VENEGAS, Miguèl. Noticia de la California, y de su conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente, sacada de la historia manuscrita, formada en Mexico año 1739. por el Padre Miguèl Venegas… Madrid: Viuda de Manuel Fernandez, y del. Supremo Consejo de la Inquisicion, 1757.
First edition, first issue (with p. 479 in Vol. II mis-numbered 476) of this "foundation of a library of Californiana" (Cowan).
Three quarto volumes (8 x 5 3/4 inches; 203 x 146 mm.). [xxiv], 240; [viii], 564; [viii] 436 pp. Complete with all four engraved folding maps. Numerous engraved head- and tailpieces. Scattered light foxing, tiny paper-flaw to blank margin of pp. 449/450 in volume II; small piece (1 7/8 x 1 3/4 inches; 48 x 44 mm.) torn away (library stamp of the Museo de Tacoronte) from the second leaf (errata) in volume III, not affecting text on recto or verso. With the purple library stamp of Museo de Tacoronte on the second leaf of volumes I and II, Volume III with the stamp torn away on lower margin not affecting text on recto or verso. Each volume with the early ink signature of Th. Cambzeleno at foot of title-pages.
Contemporary yapp-edged vellum, spines lettered in manuscript, remains of original string ties. Inner hinges of volumes I & III expertly repaired. An altogether beautiful copy of this seminal book; complete and in it's original binding. Housed in a custom-made, quarter black morocco, felt-lined clamshell case with felt dividers.
Provenance: By descent from Diego LeBrun, the owner of Museo de Tacoronte, to the family of Hamilton Wilkens.
"This first, and thus cornerstone, history of the Californias was penned by Miguèl Venegas who was born in Puebla in 1680, entered the Society of Jesus at Tepotzotlan in 1700, was ordained in 1705, and served as a professor of moral theology in the Colegio Maximo of San Pedro y San Pablo in Mexico City from 1714 to 1724. For reasons of health, in the latter year he was sent as administrator to the Jesuit hacienda of Chicomocelo, where he compounded medications and dedicated himself to letters. In 1731 his classic Manual de Parrocos appeared in its first edition, and three years later he finished a biography of Juan Bautista Zappa, S.J., close friend of Juan Maria de Salvatierra, S.J., founder of the first permanent mission in the Californias, Nuestra Senora de Loreto. Highly inspired by the dynamic expansion of the Jesuits in the mission fields of Sinaloa, Sonora, Pimeria Alta, and California, Venegas had sought to serve in the California enterprise, but was rejected because of his delicate health. Thus, he was unable to go to his "beloved California" and he devoted his time to writing its history. In researching his history, Venegas employed the highest level of historical methodology, collecting original manuscripts, annual reports, and letters, viceregal documents, memoirs, and letters of Fathers Salvatierra, Eusebio Francisco Kino, Sigismundo Taraval, Juan de Ugarte, and numerous other missionaries in California and Sonora, and of Esteban Rodriguez Lorenzo, commander of the presidio of Loreto. In 1735, father Provincial Juan Antonio de Oviedo ordered that all archival material relative to California be provided to Father Venegas who also employed a novel form of acquiring information: detailed questionnaires covering the left half of the sheet, leaving the right half of the same sheet for answers, that were sent to persons who had participated in or were currently active in the California mission field.
On August 5, 1739, Venegas finished his manuscript "Empressas Apostolicas de los PP. Misoneros de la Compania de Jesus, de la Provincia de Nueva Espana obradas en la conquista de Californias..." of 709 pages in ten books, dedicated to the benefactor of the California missions, the Marques de Villapuente. Because the work revealed the weakness of Spanish defenses in California, it was filed until 1749 when it was sent to Procurator General Pedro Ignacio Altamirano in Madrid for revision and publication. This task was given to the Jesuit savant Andres Marcos Burriel at Toledo in 1750.
Burriel accumulated documentation from the archives of the Society of Jesus and the Council of the Indies to augment Venega's text with events transpiring since 1739, and received material from Mexico City, the Philippines, and geographical data from the Academie Royale des Sciences in Paris. By 1754, Burriel had finished his revisions and additions to the "Empressas Apostolicas" that had become known as the "Noticia de la California" and remitted his manuscript of 1,150 pages and four maps to Altamirano. The licensing of the work for publications was begun, and in December of 1755 the manuscript was sent to the Real Academia de la Historia for revision, censorship, and recommendations. Finally, in April 1757, the Noticia de la California came off the press of the widow of Manuel Fernandez in Madrid.The published work follows a very different format from the original Venegas manuscript, with the first part treating the geography and native inhabitants of California; the second, the attempts to occupy the region prior to the Jesuits; and the third, the work of the Jesuits up to the present. A fourth section, provided entirely by Burriel, comprises documentary appendices. Three of the maps were composed or collected by Burriel, but he opposed the inclusion of the Mapa de la America Septentrional because of its inaccuracy. This first history of the mysterious California was in high demand: it was translated in a substantial abridgement into English and published in London in 1759, and from this into Dutch (1761-1762), French (1766-1767), and German (1769-1770)" (Volkmann)
The large folding map in Volume I (Mapa de la California su Golfo, y provincias fronteras en el continente de Nueva Espana) measures 14 3/4 x 12 3/8 inches (375 x 315 mm), with three sides bordered by ten pictorial vignettes of local scenes and animals. It is one of the most handsome maps of California ever printed and is surrounded by engraved vignettes that are among the few eighteenth-century printed images of things Californian.
Zamorano Eighty 78. Graff 4470. Hill p. 307. Howes V69. Streeter III.,363.