Explore 19th-century Philippines at León Gallery’s latest online auction

‘The Bibliophiles and Explorers Auction’ features an assemblage of rare books and maps from historian, economist and intellectual Don Benito Justo Legarda Jr.

Purveyors and enthusiasts of Philippine history must look out for León Gallery’s upcoming auction, “The Bibliophiles and Explorers Auction,” featuring the extensive collections of Filipino and historian Don Benito J. Legarda Jr. 

The auction features a rare assemblage of books—guides, reports, memoirs, chronicles, and scientific and social studies—and maps that provide insights into the Philippines in the 19th century.

Copies of El Filibusterismo and Noli me Tangere published between 1899 and 1908.
One of the rare maps in Don Benito J. Legarda’s collections.

“It’s not often that a single collector embodies so many interests and whose tastes span as many centuries. But Don Benito Justo Legarda, Jr. was always far from the usual,” says León Gallery Director Jaime Ponce de Leon. “A gentleman of the old school, he would have been very much at ease with the first ilustrados, whose careers and life works—from Pedro Paterno to Jose Rizal—he avidly set out to emulate and thereafter, collect with a passion.”

Collaborating with León Gallery for the historic auction is Legarda’s daughter herself, Dr. Isabel “Tweety” Legarda.  “My father’s collection of books and maps was the result of over 60, perhaps over 70, years of travels, joyous discoveries in shop corners, and avid curation,” she shares. 

“Two years after his death from COVID-19, I returned to his library to excavate, like an archeologist, the artifacts of his long life.There I hoped to come to a better understanding of him, and I think I succeeded.”

Gregorio Sancianco y Goson
a.) El progreso de Filipinas
[The progress of the Philippines]
Tomás Castellano y Villarroya
La insurrección en Filipinas
[The insurrection in the Philippines]

A former deputy governor of the Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas, Benito Legarda Jr. shared his passion for history with another important figure in Philippine history, specifically in the field of numismatics (the study of currency)—Dr. Angelita Guanzon de Legarda, whose articles on old Philippine currency recently helped León Gallery auction off the most expensive Philippine coin ever sold. 

As such, it is only timely that the gallery showcases the extensive collections of a gentleman who, in historian Jorge Mojarro’s words, “belonged to an intellectual aristocracy.”

The Bibliophiles and Explorers Auction is on November 18, 2023, at 2 pm. View the catalog via this link. Register to bid online via LeonExchange’s official website.

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