Page images
PDF
EPUB

Tin being a metal very little spread over the globe, it is rather surprising that it should have been used in both Continents in the hardening of copper. A single mineral which has been no where discovered but at Wheal Rock, in Cornwall, the mine of sulfuretted tin (zinnkies) contains both copper and tin in equal parts. We know not whether the Mexican nations worked veins in which minerals of copper and oxydised tin were found united, or if this last metal, which we found in the alluvions lands in the intendancy of Guanaxuato, under the globulous and fibrous form of wood tin (holz-zinn) was added to pure copper in a constant proportion. However the fact be, it is certain that the want of iron would be much less felt among nations who possessed the art of forming alloys of other metals, in a manner equally advantageous. The edgetools of the Mexicans, were some of copper and others of obsidian (itztli). The last substance was even the object of great mining undertakings, of which the traces are still to be perceived in an innumerable quantity of pits dug in the mountain of Knives, near the Indian village of Atotonilco el Grande *.

Besides the cocoa bags, each of which contained three xiquipilli or 24000 grains, besides the patolquachtli, or small bales of cotton

[ocr errors]

cloth, several metals were used by the antient Mexicans as money, that is to say, as representative signs of things. In the great market of Tenochtitlan, all sorts of goods were purchased with gold dust, contained in tubes of the feathers of aquatic birds. It was requisite that these tubes should be transparent for the sake of discovering the size of the grains of gold. In several provinces, pieces of copper to which the form of a T was given where used as a currency. Cortez relates that having undertaken to found cannons in Mexico, and having dispatched emissaries for the discovery of mines of tin and copper, he learned that in the environs of Tachco (Tlachco or Tasco) the natives employed in exchan g, pieces of melted tin *, which were as thin as the smallest coins in Spain.

* Cortez complains in his last letter to Charles the 5th, that after the taking of the capital, he was left without artillery and without arms. "Nothing," says he, "sharpens "the genius of man more (no hay cosa que mas los in"genios de los hombres aviva) than the idea of danger. "Seeing myself on the point of losing what had cost "us so much labour in acquiring, I was obliged to fall "upon means of making cannons with the materials to "be found in the country" I shall transcribe here the remarkable passage in which Cortez speaks of tin as money: "Topé entre los naturales de una provincia que "se dice Tachco ciertas piecezuelas de estaño, a manera "da moneda muy delgada y procediendo en mi pesquisa <* hallé que en la dicha provincia y aun en otras, se "trataba por mtneda." (Lorenzana, p. 379. § XVII.

Such is the imperfect idea which the first historians have transmitted to us of the use made by the natives of Mexico, of gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and of the mercury mines. I thought it necessary to enter into these details, not only to throw some light on the antient cultivation of these countries, but also to show that the European colonists in the first years which succeeded the destruction of Tenochtitlan, only followed the indications of mines given them by the natives.

The kingdom of New Spain in its actual state contains nearly 500 places (reales y realitos) celebrated for the mines in their environs. More than 200 of these places are marked in the general map of the country drawn up by me. It is probable that these 500 reales comprehend nearly three thousand mines (minas), designating by that name the whole of the subterraneous works, which communicate with one another, by which one or more metallick depositories are worked. These mines are divided into 37 districts, over which are placed the same number of Councils of mines called, Diputaciones de Mineria. We shall collect in one view the names of these Diputaciones, and of the Reales de Minas, contained in the twelve Intendancies of New Spain. The materials employed for this purpose are partly taken from a manuscript memoir drawn up by the

director of the superior council of mines, Don Fausto D'Elhuyar for the Count de Revillagigedo, one of the viceroys.

GENERAL VIEW
OF THE
MINES OF NEW SPAIN.

I. Intendancy of Guanaxuato.

From the 20° 55' to the 21° 30' of north latitude, and from the 102° 30' to the 103°/ 45 of West longitude.

Diputaciones de Minería, or Districts.

1. Guanaxuato.

Reales, or Places surrounded with Mines:

Guanaxuato; Villalpando; Monte de San Nicolas; Santa Rosa; Santa Ana; San Antonio de las Minas; Comanja; Capulin; Comanjilla; Gigante; San Luis de la Paz; San Rafael de los Lobos; Durasno; San Juan de la Chica; Rincon de Centeno; San Pedro de los Pozos; Palmas de Vega; San Miguel el Grande; San Felipe.

II. Intendancy of Zacatecas.

From the 22° 20' to the 24° 33/ north latitude, and from the 103° 12' to the 105" 9' of west longitude.

Diputaciones de Minería, or Districts.

2. Zacatecas.

3. Sombrerete.

4. Fresnillo.

5. Sierra de Pinos.

Reales, or Places surrounded by Mines : _

Zacatecas; Guadalupe de Veta Grande; San Juan Bauptista de Panuco; La Blanca; Sombrerete; Madroño; San Pantaleon de la Noria; Fresnillo; San Demetrio de los Plateros; Cerro de Santiago; Sierra de Pinos; La Sauceda; Cerro de Santiago; Mazapil.

III. Intendancy of San Luis Potosí.

From the 22° 1' to the 27° 11' of north latiude, and from the 100° 35' to the 103° 20' of West longitude.

Diputaciones de Minería, or Districts.

6. Catorce.

7. San Luis Potosí,

8. Charcas.

9. Ojocaliente.

10, San Nicolas de Croix.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »