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 The Antiquities of Mexico
The Aglio - Kingsborough Affair.
1824 - 1836
A Summary  

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Link to the complete work on Mexican Antiquities at Real Academia de la Historia

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 1970’s.

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 Kingsborough.

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 'patron'." 

Thanks to Professor David Hook for information and support.

Lord Kingsborough
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 erroneous.
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 America.
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.
Wikipedia entry

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."
Wikipedia entry

William Bullock
William Bullock (c. 1773 - 1849) was an English traveller, naturalist and antiquarian. Bullock began as a goldsmith and jeweller in Sheffield. 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 in 1801.

Wikipedia entry