[SPANISH AMERICAN LAW] -- Recopilacion de leyes de los reynos de las Indias. Mandadas imprimir, y publicar por la Magestad Catolica del rey Don Carlos II. Compiled by Antonio de León Pinelo (1590/91-1660). Madrid: Julian de Paredes, 1681.
4 volumes, 2o (291-298 x 215 mm). Engraved armorial title vignettes, woodcut initials. (Volume 1 dampstained, some wormtracks affecting text or sidenotes, most severe in vol. 3, vol. 2 title torn, a few short marginal tears, occasional small stains, several leaves adhered through damp in vol. 4, quires Ddd-Ppp.) Contemporary limp vellum, title lettered on spines, traces of fore-edge ties (a mixed set [see provenance], vol. 1 disbound and covers badly damaged). Provenance: contemporary Mexican or Central American monastic ownership brands on upper edges of vols. 3 and 4, vol. 2 with different monogram and mark on upper and lower edges, vol. 1 unbranded; Joseph Gutierrez de la Pena; Ventura de Arriaga (18th-century signatures on titles of vols. 3 and 4); a few 18th-century marginalia; 18th or 19th-century historical note on front flyleaf in vol. 1.
FIRST OFFICIAL AND COMPLETE EDITION of the collected laws of the Spanish American colonies, prepared chiefly by Antonio de León Pinelo, America's first bibliographer. Harrisse (pp. 393-5) summarizes the complex history of the earlier partial collections of statutes, mere alphabetical lists of cedulas and ordonnances, which the proliferation of new laws rendered quickly obsolete. The preparation of a new collection in digest form was begun in 1622 by Pinelo and Rodrigo de Aguiar, after whose death Pinelo continued alone. Although completed in 1635, the massive collection remained unpublished until 1681, when it was printed by royal decree, having been brought up to date by a commission working under the direction of Fernando Jiménez Paniagua. The last volume contains an exhaustive subject index. The laws recorded in this edition remained theoretically in force in Spanish America for over three centuries.
RARE. Already in the 19th century copies of this and the following editions (1756, 1774, and 1791) were so scarce "that a copy could not be had in Spain at any price", and a reprint had to be made by order of the King (Sabin 40905). No complete copies of this edition have appeared at auction in the past 50 or more years. Alden and Landis 681/135; cf. Harrisse BAV pp. 395-96; Palau 252516; Sabin 68386 (foliation differing from Palau and incorrect).