Auctions | September 11, 2015

Letter Signed by Junípero Serra at Upcoming Bonhams Auction


New York—A two-leaf decree letter signed by Junípero Serra and the four other mission leaders of Colonial California is a highlight at Bonhams’ upcoming New York sale. Estimated between $60,000 and $90,000, the letter is being put on offer just ahead of Serra’s canonization when the Pope visits Washington DC later in September. Junípero Serra established the first Alta California mission in 1769 . By early 1775, just six years after the founding of Mission San Diego, the Spanish had established five fully operational missions from San Diego to Monterey, laying the framework for what would ultimately be a series of 21 mission outposts throughout California.

Dated February 7, 1775, the eight-point decree was sent from Mexico City by Pangua, a Franciscan administrator charged with the supervision of the California missions. Points include a ban on carrying weapons while traveling and the threat of expulsion from a mission for failing to get on with other people. The letter is written in Spanish in a scribal hand and bears an official seal.

In addition to Serra's autograph endorsement, the letter is also signed by Vicente Fustér (d.1800), Anotonio Cruzado (fl. 1775-1803), Jose Cavaller (d.1789) and Miguel Pieras (fl. 1771-1795). The letter is one highlight among a host of other rare books and manuscripts that will be on offer. For information on this September sale, please visit

Image: SERRA, JUNÍPERO. 1713-1774, ET AL. PANGUA, FRANCISCO. Letter in Spanish in a scribal hand with an official seal, 4 pp, Mexico City, February 7, 1775, to the various heads of the California missions, signed by Serra and four others (Estimate $60,000-90,000).