El Contador ó tablas de reducción de las pesas y medidas legales de Castilla y demás que están en uso en las Islas Filipinas a las del nuevo sistema métrico decimal y recíprocamente, como también del sistema monetario.

Manila, Amigos del País, 1865.

Small 4to, pp. [6], 7-167, [1]; includes half-title, some fold-out tables; very occasional and minor spotting; a very good copy bound in contemporary half black morocco, gilt title and decoration on the spine, patterned endpapers, pebble-grained cloth boards, faded with corners slightly scuffed; first few leaves blind-stamped and ink-stamped by the Filipino Intendencia Militar, MS corrections in ink to text (p. 13) and to one of the tables (p.47), MS conversion table (p. 158).


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El Contador ó tablas de reducción de las pesas y medidas legales de Castilla y demás que están en uso en las Islas Filipinas a las del nuevo sistema métrico decimal y recíprocamente, como también del sistema monetario.

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Presumably first edition of this colonial government-endorsed Filipino handbook for converting Castilian weights and measures into the new metric system, which had been introduced into law across all Spanish dominions in 1849 by Queen Isabella II. It includes the text of the law, as of an administrative decree of the Philippines of 1863, along with currency conversion rates and instructions for the reader with notes indicative of trade practice.

The decree of the Gobierno Superior Civíl de Filipinas of 1863 required the circulation of conversion tables (omitting any Castilian measures not known in the Philippines), the teaching of the new metric system in primary schools, and the creation of a commission, made up of professors of maths and physics, to facilitate the introduction of the new system. Cavada, authorised to produce this volume by the Gobierno Superior, includes an explanation of the new weights and measures, in the form of anticipated questions. These emphasise that the new weights and measures are to be used for all ordinary, commercial, and scientific purposes, and that both old and new units used in the Philippines are the same as those in Spain, although ‘se conoce la yarda, medida inglesa á que se refieren los tejidos que se importan en las Islas’. Such incidental details of international trade enrich an already fascinating documentation of the practicalities of late Spanish colonial administration in the Philippines.

The preliminaries are followed by 43 tables, converting the old Spanish units into the new metric system, and also giving the value of the units of currency. An additional manuscript table converts cuartos into céntimos de peso, a unit introduced into the Philippines by permission of Isabella II and first produced in the islands’ inaugural mint, the Casa de Moneda de Manila, in 1861.

Rare: not listed on COPAC. OCLC notes only two copies, in the Biblioteca Nacional de España and the National Library of Australia.

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