Lopez Library Puzzle Solved!

Regalado Jose and I visited the Lopez Museum on the 11th of January, 2023 to finally figure out what to do with the  Lopez Library materials. From our research, we knew that  Charles Boxer had noted that Eugenio Lopez bought Sotheby’s Lot no. 525  in 1966 through H.P. Krauss booksellers of  New York. It was one of the three lots that got separated from the seventeen that came from the original Heber sale of Dalrymple’s library (later purchased by Thorpe and then Sir Thomas Philipps who gave the still visible accession numbers on the spines from 8223 to 8696) The other 14 lots were bought by Mendell and donated to the Lilly Library in Indiana, but we knew that somehow, Lot 525 had gone back to the Philippines. 

So over several months, the research team had been poring over the card catalogs of the Lopez library to see which ones could have been part of lot 525. Nothing seemed to fit. We were almost ready to assign a few volumes based on informed speculation ( pre-1762, Agustinian provenance.. etc..) but then we just asked for one last look at “anything bound in vellum.” And lo and behold — the Lopez Museum’s librarian remembered that there were several bound manuscripts that had not been cataloged since the 60s.  According to her, they did not know what to do with them as they had no title pages, etc…

When we saw the volumes, our jaws dropped! they were exactly how they are described in the 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.

And what documents within the bound volumes do we find? Accounts of

  •  a native revolt in Luzon (1670 )
  • the conquest and conversion of the Marianas
  • help for the king of Siao (Moluccas)
  • the seizure of power in Manila by Bonifaz (?)
  •  the dispute between Archbishop Pardo and the Audiencia of Manila
  • threats from the English and the Dutch
  • the manufacture of canons and arquebuses
  • the capture of Zamboanga
  • Decrees of  Philip  V two of great interest: one where he asks for natural history specimens and  books in native languages for a new public  library built next to the palace (1712)
  • and another that bans a Bible printed in London in the American language (1709).

Everything is intact and very well preserved. The Lopez Library will now begin scanning all the materials and the 1762 archive project will be incorporating all of these materials into the reconstructed library ( the all-access Digital platform coming soon towards the end of 2023).  What an amazing find!

Here are a few more photos:

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