The Antiquities of Mexico
The Aglio - Kingsborough Affair.
1824 - 1836
Back to Agostino
to the complete work on Mexican Antiquities at Real Academia de la
Agostino Aglio worked with William
Bullock and Lord Kingsborough on Mexican Antiquities
from about 1824 to 1830.
The outcome of this work was a very sad affair. The history of events
is currently being researched at Bristol University by Professor David Hook
who is adding to the scholarship of Professor Ian Graham’s work in the
Before coming to England in 1803, Agostino had been on a trip to Sicily,
Greece and Egypt with Mr. William Wilkins to draw Antiquities. It is clear
that, by nature, he must have had an eye for copying in fine detail.
|In about 1824 he became involved in the work to be published as The
Antiquities of Mexico in seven volumes: comprising Fac-Similes of Ancient
American Paintings and Hieroglyphics. This work involved copying
manuscripts from various sources throughout Europe including The Bodleian
Library at Oxford, the Imperial Library in Vienna, the royal libraries of
Paris, Berlin and Dresden and the Vatican Library.
The price at the time was £120 and £175 coloured.
The handwritten notes of the time written by his son indictate the extent
of his time in Europe.
By 1831 the work was published and reviewed in "The Monthly Review
January to April 1831" and "The Foreign Quarterly Review January
and May 1832".
Sir Thomas Phillipps, an English antiquary and book collector, with the
largest collection of books in the 19th century, supported the
project from the very early days and it seems that by 1831 he and Lord
Kingsborough were involved in litigation with Aglio. In 1832 Aglio still had not been
paid for all his work and then he became embroiled in actions against
Kingsborough by stationers in 1832 and 1833 requiring thousands of pounds
for the supply of paper for printing the manuscripts. It seems that during
this time was a Petition to the Court of Chancery against Aglio by
A 42 page document written by Aglio and letters between Aglio and
Kingsborough at the time give considerable insight it the whole sad affair
in which both went bankrupt. Kingsborough ending up in Debtor’s jail
three times, finally dying of typhus in 1837. Sir Thomas Phillipps, who
has been described as a bibliomaniac and who was planning to buy copies of
Mexican Antiquities, was part responsible for the problems as there were
some outstanding payments..
These events are being documented within an up to date study of Sir
Thomas Phillipps by Professor David Hook of Bristol University
The role of the internet in the unravelling of the history of this
affair is of no little significance. Through these web pages David Hook saw that information about A.Aglio was
available, more precisely -A Hand written document by AA about his work
on Mexican Antiquities
"Correct Statement of the transactions between A.Aglio artist and
Lord Kingsborough on the work of the Mexican Antiquities from its
commencement to its conclusion of the work." and letters between
Aglio and Kingsborough.
It is left to further work to give the full details of the affair,
however history suggests that in the words of David Hook "Agostino Aglio emerges from all this as a sincere and open
individual, probably too trusting given the people he was dealing with.
Not one to challenge people to duels and punch a bailiff, unlike his
Thanks to Professor David Hook for information and support.
Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough (16 November 1795–27 February 1837),
usually known as Lord Kingsborough, was an Irish antiquarian who sought to
prove that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a Lost Tribe of
Israel. His principal contribution was in making available facsimiles of
ancient documents and some of the earliest explorers' reports on
Pre-Columbian ruins and Maya civilization. However, these were presented
in the context of his highly speculative theories, now known to be
The eldest son of George King, 3rd Earl of Kingston, Lord Kingsborough
represented Cork County in parliament.
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. These lavish publications represented some of the
earliest published documentation of the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica,
inspiring further exploration and research by John Lloyd Stephens and
Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg in the early 19th century. They
were the product of early theories about non-indigenous origins for Native
American civilizations that are also represented in the Book of Mormon
(1830) and myths about mound builders of Old World ancestry in North
On 27 February 1837, Lord Kingsborough died in prison of typhus, two years
before he would have inherited his father's title. The last two volumes of
Antiquities of Mexico were published posthumously.
The Codex Kingsborough is named after him.
Sir Thomas Phillipps
Sir Thomas Phillipps, 1st Baronet (2 July 1792 – 6 February 1872) was an
English antiquary and book collector who amassed the largest collection of
manuscript material in the 19th century, due to his severe condition of
bibliomania. He was the illegitimate son of a textile manufacturer who
inherited a substantial estate which he spent almost entirely on vellum
manuscripts, and in doing so put his family into debt. Phillipps recorded
in an early catalogue that his collection "was instigated by reading
various accounts of the destruction of valuable manuscripts."
William Bullock (c.
1773 - 1849)
was an English
Bullock began as a goldsmith
He used his wealth to accumulate a large collection of artefacts,
antiquities and stuffed animals. In the late 1790s Bullock founded a
Museum of Natural Curiosities in the city, which moved to Liverpool