The real 7th Lopez Volume

When the 1762 project team first encountered the Philippine manuscripts at the Lopez Library, we had a niggling doubt about one of the volumes in the Sotheby’s lot that Mr Eugenio Lopez bought in 1966. Unlike the six other volumes that completely synched with the description of the auction catalogue, the thin volume entitled Copia del testamento de Don Luis Enrique de Guzmán, Alcalde Ordinario de la ciudad de Manila written in 1622, did not seem to belong to the group. Unlike the other volumes which were compilations of charters and orders (cedulas), the thin volume is a copy of the will of Don Luis Enrique de Guzmán and is bound in a fragment of a musical score printed on what we thought might leather. Some loose folios from 1798 and 1804 produced in Acapulco were inserted at the end, and the will is dated at a much earlier date than the multi-volume cedularios. This anomalies made us think twice about whether this 7th volume did in fact come with the San Agustin Convent lot, but it being the 7th in the lot, we thought it was just an outlier.

Over the past few months, the 1762 project has been undergoing the long process of optimizing the Lopez scans, segmenting the compiled folios into separate accession items for greater findability, and then uploading them to Princeton’s IIIF servers. In the middle of everything, the current Lopez Librarian, Carina Sarmaniego, sent us an interesting email. She wanted to consult about a volume of manuscripts that she had just found in the Lopez collection. She attached a few photos showing the spine and the first few pages. She alerted us to the first page, where there was a handwritten note: “Heber Mss.” She asked if this could be a part of a larger collection. 

A flurry of emails followed. It totally made sense now. 

This newly uncovered volume had to be the 7th volume in the Sotheby’s Lot. 

The 7 volumes  as described in the auction catalog:

Sotheby’s Lot No. 525

Spanish Royal Decrees.  An important collection of 382 manuscripts and 79 printed decrees addressed by the Spanish monarchs to the governors of the Philippines, with a large number of documents issued by the government of the Philippines, in seven volumes of about 5900 pages, many documents signed by Governors of the Philippines and Archbishops of Manila. One volume badly wormed, six volumes bound in vellum,  one in 19-century calf,  MSS 8477–9,  8481, 8483–4, 8496. Folio 1663-77, 1688- 95, 1707-13, 1748-52.

We initially overlooked the 7th manuscript in our examination of the first batch because it was rebound in 19th-century calfskin. We were specifically asking about vellum-bound volumes, which led to this one being left out.

Carina continued in her email from May 23, 2024:

“Wow, I’m having goosebumps! Yes, this has a different binding and was placed in an unlabelled box. It was really just a random find as I was looking for something else. The moment I saw the name Heber, I knew I had read it somewhere…”

Prof. Christina Lee further confirmed the find by noting that she recognized similar signatures from the charters and orders of the previous volume (LMM Accession No. 070), dated 1707-1713. The new volume covers the range of dates from 1748-1752.

Next Steps

The volume, given the title of  “Carte regum Hispaniae de Insulis Philippinis” in its 19th c  binding, was promptly scanned by the Lopez Library and sent out to the project’s digital repository for technical assessment for clarity, resolution and image cropping. After a few re-scans, Carina added some metadata ( unique identifier, dimensions, general description etc.)  This additional volume  is now scheduled to be ingested into the Lopez repository  in Princeton’s IIIF server.  

Prof Anna Marie Sibayan of the Department of European Languages at the University of the Philippines Diliman, is now working on segmenting the cedulas into their legajos and providing brief descriptions for each segment.  Along with the 6 other volumes from Lopez and the rest of the reunited materials from the Lilly Library, SOAS, the British Library and Kings College, all the materials will be made available on the 1762  open-access aggregated platform by August 2024.