Antiquities of Mexico

Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough, an Irish antiquarian, sought to prove that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a Lost Tribe of Israel. In 1831, Lord Kingsborough published the first volume of Antiquities of Mexico, a collection of copies of various Mesoamerican codices, including the first complete publication of the Dresden Codex. The exorbitant cost of the reproductions, which were often hand-painted, landed him in debtors’ prison. There he died on February 27, 1837. (“Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough”, Wikipedia, October 7, 2012)

Naturally one might want to read these fascinating volumes. But Lord Kingsborough’s books were “elephant folios,” each weighing at least 25 pounds. The volumes were sold only by subscription. (“The Curious Case of the Wayward Aztec”. Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), Oct. 12, 2007) Today, copies of Antiquities of Mexico are rare. As of 1960, the El Paso Public Library boasted as its “prize treasure” the nine-volume set of Lord Kingsborough’s magnum opus. (“‘Antiquities of Mexico’ Published in 1831 By Kingsborough Is Library’s Top Treasure”, by Charles Schwanitz. Section 2, Page 17, El Paso Herald Post (El Paso, TX), Dec. 27, 1960)

On Lord Kingsborough, Robert Anderson Wilson, a skeptical Philadelphia lawyer, granted that the Irish antiquarian had done labors of great magnitude. If we consider the time and expense involved, “we may form some idea of the extent of his enterprise. This work [Antiquities of Mexico] is one that would have reflected the highest honor on the greatest of Spanish monarchs.” Yet Wilson bemoans that Lord Kingsborough effected through love of literature several volumes of “superstition.” For Wilson considered the Lost Tribes of Israel theory for the origin of the American “Indians” to be part of “enchanting tales” drawn from Spanish-Arabian history and transplanted by Monkish historians to Mexico. (A New History of the Conquest of Mexico, by Robert Anderson Wilson. Philadelphia: James Challen & Son, 1859)

“Sincerely believing those monkish legends that make up the mass of Aztec history, he [Lord Kingsborough] consecrated his time and the whole of his ample fortune to bring them before the world in an attractive form. He did not hesitate to believe the devil had played a part in Aztec history, nor fail to adopt the theory of their Jewish origin. He ransacked history, ancient and modern literature, to support this favorite theory of monkish chroniclers. In like manner the histories of Mexico were ransacked, every monk’s opinion, every vague rumor, and even monstrous improbabilities (such as the story of the Apostle Thomas preaching the gospel in the Anahuac), were greedily swallowed, when they appeared to add color to his argument.” (Wilson, op. cit.)

 

The El Paso Public Library had paid about $1,000 for Antiquities of Mexico, and that is considered a bargain price. Volume One is said to “bring to life” the founding of Mexico City by the Aztecs. The Aztecs  had received what they considered to be “a sign” – an eagle on a cactus – which showed them where to begin. “The Mexican flag to this day shows the eagle on the cactus as national emblem.” (El Paso Herald Post, op. cit.)

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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