Gold & Silver Conversion Tables
fromthe Press of a Woman Printer
Berdugo, Nicolás. Reducciones de plata, y oro a las leyes de 11. diner. y 22. quilat. valores de una y otra especie por marcos, onzas, ochav. tomin. y gran. como S. Mag. (que Dios guarde) lo manda en sus novissimas reales ordenanzas, expedidas en 1. de agosto de 1750. Cuyas reducciones, y valores el Excmo. Sr. Conde. de Revilla Gigedo ... mandò imprimir. Mexico: Impr. de Doña Maria de Rivera, 1752. Small 8vo (14.8 cm; 5.875").  ff., 324 pp.
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Mining was one of the chief industries of colonial Mexico, and after a century of decline during the 1600s, the 18th century saw a renaissance in ore extraction, chiefly due to new technologies that made it possible to rework old ore and to achieve higher than previously imagined levels of silver and gold extracted from newly mined ore. Berdugo's work is a vade mecum of conversion tables of values for gold of different carats and for silver of different values of purity.
is one of our great specialties.
The work was absolutely essential for all merchants and other business people, and for government workers in the treasury department — for milled coins were the exception in Mexican commerce, cob pieces the norm, and raw gold and silver, including dust, were extremely common.
The volume ends with the “Reglas varias, para sacar juntos, o separados en pasta, o en moneda los reales derechos, que se pagan a S. Mag. De el oro y de la plata, y para reducir a toda su ley estos metales.”
An uncommon economic work: We trace fewer than nine copies in the U.S.
This was printed by Doña Maria de Rivera with a red and black title-page, and with woodcut arms on first dedication page. The charming cut of a herald cherub appears after the decima dedicated to the author at the end of the preliminaries.
Medina, Mexico, 4073. Contemporary full Mexican calf, modestly tooled in gilt and with all edges red; recased, new endpapers. Final two leaves little ragged at edges costing a few letters and with small hole at center and short tears at inner margin; old staining and age-toning/browning throughout. There is every indication that this well-produced little volume saw time “in the field”! (26850)
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MINING, click here.
“Recibiremos una Inteligencia Inculta y en Breve la Devolveremos Ilustrada”
A Plan Rigorous, Classical, &AMBITIOUS!
Boada y Malmes, Miguel. [drop-title] Colegio de Santo Tomas de Aquino, bajo la direccion de MigIel Boada y Balmes, sito en la Nueva Guatemala, Calle de la Victoria, No. 17. [colophon: Guatemala: Tipografia y litograpfia del “Noticioso”, 1862]. Folio (33 cm; 13").  pp, with integral blank leaf.
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One of the editors of the opposition (i.e., anti-Carrera) newspaper proposes to establish a school for educating young Guatemalan children. To be admitted whether they are ignorant of the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic or not, they will be classed into three groups, ranging from the most ignorant beginners to those truly in command of the “Three Rs.” Once in command of those essentials, they will commence on a four-year course of instruction that will include logic, grammar, philology, religion and morals, basic Latin, history, and geography and end with physics, chemistry, zoology,geometry, algebra, and English. There will also be instruction in gymnastics, drawing, and music.
The prospectus includes the names of the instructors, information about examinations, and specifics of costs.
Prospectuses for schools in 19th-century Latin America are rare.
Searches of NUC, WorldCat, COPAC, CICLA, and Metabase locate absolutely no copies.
Not in Valenzuela. Never bound; as issued. Faint waterstaining in upper margin, corners bumped slightly; a very good copy. (31055)
On Government & on Old Gold Coinage
Benítez, Pedro de. Escrutinio de maravedises, y monedas
de oro antiguas, su valor, reduccion, y cambio a las monedas corrientes. Deducido
de escrituras, leyes, y pragmaticas antiguas, y modernas de España. Madrid:
Antonio Marin, 1763. 4to (21.5 cm; 8.5"). 123, 171 pp.
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An interesting pairing of productions: The first section (to p. 123) is a history and defense of the Consejo de Castilla, while the second portion is the history of ancient gold coins of the Iberian peninsula and methods of calculating their worth!
Graesse, Trésor de livres rares, II, 39; Palau 42732. Contemporary vellum over paste boards, lacking the ties, with some vellum lost; old ownership stamp eradicated from title-page. A bit of old spotting/staining; generally, though, a good clean volume. (28583)
Cook, Moses. The manner of raising, ordering, and improving forest-trees: With directions how to plant, make, and keep woods, walks, avenues, lawns, hedges, &c. London: Pr. for Eliz. Bell, John Darby, Arthur Bettesworth, et al., 1724. 8vo (19.8 cm, 7.75"). Frontis. (incl. in pagination), xx, 273,  pp.; 4 fold. plts.
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Acclaimed and influential treatise by Cook, head gardener to the Earl of Essex and a professional nurseryman. This is the stated third edition, corrected, following the first of 1676; it includes “Rules and Tables shewing how the Ingenious Planter may measure Superficial Figures, divide Woods or Land, and measure Timber and other solid Bodies, either by Arithmetick or Geometry: With the Uses of that excellent Line, the Line of Numbers, by several new Examples; and many other Rules, useful for most Men.”
The volume is illustrated with alovely copper-engraved frontispiece depicting tree-fellers at work and with four folding plans showing how to calculate the scale and design of landscape features. At the back of the work is a brief overview of the rules for making cider, and an additional recipe for birch beer (alcoholic) is given in the chapter on birches.
ESTC T131054; Goldsmiths’-Kress no. 6265. 18th-century calf, covers framed in double blind fillets with blind roll along joint, spine with gilt-stamped leather title and date labels and gilt-stamped compartment decorations; joints and portions of spine leather unobtrusively repaired, edges and extremities rubbed, sides with a bit of light scuffing, gilt mildly rubbed. Scattered faint foxing, most pages clean. (30312)
The Free Will Debate: Anti-Libertarian, Pro-Necessitarian
Crombie, Alexander. An essay on philosophical
necessity. London: J. Johnson, 1793. 8vo (21.6 cm, 8.5"). , viii, 508 pp.
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First edition of the first published work by Crombie, a Scottish-born Presbyterian minister, schoolmaster, and philosopher. Here Crombie argues against Reid's and Gregory's positions on free will and defends Hume's determinism; one chapter addresses Gregory's comparison of motives and their operations to causes in physics as described by Newton's laws of motion.
Evidence of readership: This copy has extensive pencilled shouldernotes left by an unknown reader who thoroughly (and neatly) recorded numerous questions about and responses to the first 39 pages of the text — after which our reader is heard from no more.
ESTC T109696. Period-style quarter red morocco and marbled paper–covered sides, spine with gilt-stamped publication information and gilt-ruled raised bands, leather edges with gilt roll. One leaf torn across from outer margin, without loss. Marginalia as above, pages otherwise clean. An attractive and interesting copy. (31050)
Taxing a Luxury Good — A Decade in the Silk Trade
Gremios Unidos de Reventas de Sevilla. Manuscript, on
paper, in Spanish. Binder's title, “Autos e ynstrume[nto]s pertenesientes a los grem[io]s unidos
de rebentas de esta ciu[da]d de Sevilla. Anos de 1633.” Seville, Madrid, and elsewhere: 1629–40.
Folio (33 cm; 13").  ff.
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Nothing is ever simple, especially when multiple bureaucracies are involved. In this dense volume we see the multiple “hands” involved in the collection of sales and import/export taxes (almojarifazgo) on various commodities, but especially silk, sold by the “United Guild of Resellers” of Seville. Clearly the tax money belonged to the crown, but collection of it was accomplished at the first level by the members of the guild and then at the second by a middleman who bid for the right to act as such.
The scheme basically worked like this: the winning bidder guaranteed the crown a fixed sum for each year of his grant, or “asiento,” with a limit to the number of years. If he collected more than the agreed upon sum, he kept the difference, and if he collected less, he had to make up the difference. His success depended on correctly estimating the market for his commodity and his ability to collect from the sellers!
Contained in this volume is a 15-leaf printed document of 1629 detailing the rights and responsibilities of Jeronimo Guerra and Francisco de Acosta Brandon, the new holders of the
asiento for collecting taxes on silk in the cities of Seville and Cadiz. The hundreds of pages of manuscript documentsALL relate to the sale of silk and the taxes paid on it.
Silk (raw and finished) arrived in Seville from China by way of Mexico, having travelled overland from Acapulco through Mexico City and Puebla, then on to Veracruz. The luxury product was then sold and resold and taxes collected again and again at each transaction.
For COMMERCE / TRADE /
Because the documents in this volume were all transacted using notaries, it is an excellent paleographical teaching tool. It is also a great source for teachingmercantile mathematics of the early 17th century, for there are many pages of cyphering and numerous accounting documents showing costs and expenses.
And, obviously, it isa primary source on the silk trade in the great port city of Seville during a full-decade period.
Binding: Contemporary red goat nicely tooled in gilt to form two concentric oblong panels, each accented with corner devices and with a gilt central medallion in the middle of each cover. Strong, handsome gilt lettering to front cover. Green and gold silk ties.
Binding shows some abrasion and small loss of leather. A volume in good state, entirely legible and solidly bound. (32637)
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Medina, Pedro de. Arte del navigare. Venetia: Appresso Tomaso Baglioni, 1609. 4to (20.5 cm, 8"). A4 b4 2A8 B–Q8 R10; , [1 (blank)], 137, [1 (blank)] ff.; illus.
Pedro de Medina’s (1493–1567) Arte de navegar (originally published in Spanish in 1545) was a ground-breaking work on compass navigation, and became a standard manual translated into many languages. Medina was famous as a mathematician and cosmographer, and the king of Spain placed him in charge of examining pilots and masters for the West Indies. This second Italian edition (the first was printed in 1554) was translated by Vincenzo Palentino; it has a title-page in red and black with a woodcut printer’s device, and woodcut initials, tables, and illustrations, many showing how to make celestial observations. Also included is a woodcut map showing Europe, the Atlantic, and the New World.
Palau 159680; Alden & Landis, European Americana, 609/77; Medina, BHA, 123. Old vellum; red leather, gilt-lettered spine label; some staining, and chipping to edges and label. Old, careful repairs to interior worming occasionally cost individual letters (but never sense) or a little loss to an illustration. Old rubber-stamps and red and black ownership label on title-page; inked notations on title-page and front pastedown. All edges speckled red.
MARITIME matters, click here.
more 17TH-CENTURY BOOKS, click here.
(Prophecies). Breve compendio de notables baticinios, qve famosos avtores matematicos de Europa han hecho contra el sobervio imperio y casa otomana. [Madrid, ca. 1683]. 4to (19.6 cm, 7.75"). A6;  ff.
Compilation of prophecies against the Ottoman Empire: This popular anti-Turkish tract was no doubt intended to encourage Spanish Christians during the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, which was concluded by King John Sobieski of Poland saving the city. Among the “mathematic authors” cited are Merlin, “the great astrologer Juan Francisco Spina,”and Saint Isidore of Seville.
Rare: No copies traced via NUC Pre-1956, OCLC or RLIN.
Single-click the image where the hand appears on
mouse-over, for an enlargement.
Not in Palau. In recent wrappers. Light foxing, a few light waterstains, and a few shallow tears, the latter not touching text.
“We Ought . . . to Prepare for Our Defence”
West, Benjamin. The New-England almanack, or Lady's and gentleman's diary, for the year of our Lord Christ 1775: ... calculated for the meridian of Providence, in New-England, lat. 41° 51' n. and 71° 16' w. from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich; but may serve all the adjacent provinces. Providence: Printed and sold, wholesale and retail, by John Carter, . Small 8vo (17 cm; ).  ff.
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In addition to the expected tables and predictions, present here on pp. [18–21] is an essay entitled, “A Brief View of the present Controversy between Great-Britain and America, with some Observations thereon.” The second paragraph begins: “Never perhaps was there a period more important to America than the present. Great-Britain is now carrying into execution a claim, assumed but a little while since, and which, if acceded to, will involve us in the most abject slavery.” Taxation and representation are the inflaming issues, of course, with the “dispute” thereon going far beyond the question of “whetherthe tea destroyed at Boston shall be paid for.”
The last page here, while hoping for peace and amity based on a British change of mind and attitude, makes it very clear what a serious militia (such, for example, as Rhode-Island has)
can do against great armies!
Evans 13764; Alden, Rhode Island, 530; Drake, Almanacs, 12842; ESTC W22707. Not in Adams, American Independence, but that conceivably was deliberate. Uncut; stitched as issued. Browned, tattered, handsoiling, bug-spotting and an inkblot at lower edge; small piece torn from title-leaf and same leaf with pin-prick holes not affecting readability. Looks like a survivor of the American Revolution, which it is. (30423)
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