Grand Junction couple’s treasure going back to Mexico
Book explaining origins of Aztec calendar to be donated to institute of anthropology
The honeymoon treasure Robert and Beverly Elliott found in Mexico City four decades ago is headed home.
The Elliotts found their treasure in a small shop somewhere near the Hotel Maria Cristina, where they spent their honeymoon in 1972. It was in that shop that Rob Elliott said a clerk seemed to think the young American couple would take care of the unbound pages of a 1907 publication that appears to explain the Aztec calendar, using reproductions of illustrations dating back to the 1500s.
“You might be interested in this,” Rob Elliott remembered the clerk telling him and his bride. “He thought we would take care of it.”
The clerk was right. After paying $50, the Elliotts took custody of “Los Calendarios Mexicanos” by Mariano Fernandez de Echevarria Veytia, a celebrated Mexican historian and lawyer who lived from 1720 to 1778, and kept it safe, bringing it out only on occasion. Otherwise, it was stored in a cedar chest.
At least the Elliotts think they paid $50. It has been almost 40 years, after all.
The years previous to their purchase had not been entirely kind to Veytia’s book. The binding was long since removed, possibly for any gold that might have been used in the cover, Bev said, and pages were ripped.
The eight illustrated pages, however, still are crisp and eye-catching as they illustrate portions of the Aztec calendar.
The pages contain no references to the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, as some say the Mayan calendar predicts.
“We didn’t find that,” Rob Elliott said, noting the book is geared to the Aztecs.
To the best of her knowledge, only six copies of “Los Calendarios Mexicanos” survive in reasonable condition, Bev Elliott said.
The Elliotts found the book engrossing, but it also induced the sense they needed to return it to Mexico, a feeling that grew when they met a Mexican official, Rosario Gomez, last year during a trip organized by the Museum of Western Colorado.
“That’s when it came to a boil in our minds,” Bev Elliott said. “We decided we’ve got to do this.”
Gomez is to be in Denver next week, and Mike Perry, executive director of the museum, plans to turn over the book then.
Gomez will take it to the National Institute of Anthropology and History, where it will be studied, and, the Elliotts hope, contribute to a better understanding of Mexican history by Mexicans themselves.
The Elliotts hope to learn more about the book once it gets back into Mexican hands and they report back to the museum and the donors what they learn.
But they know this much already, Rob Elliott said, “It is a treasure.”