Codex Fejéváry Mayer


About this object

The Codex Fejervary Mayer was bought by Joseph Mayer, the Liverpool goldsmith and antiquarian in 1855. It had previously been in the collection of the Hungarian collector Gabriel Fejéváry. In 1867 Mayer gave his collection, including the codex to Liverpool (now World) Museum.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the codex was packed in a cardboard box along with the Rameses girdle and the Kingston brooch and carried to St Martin’s Bank, near the Town Hall in Liverpool by museum attendant George Youlton. It was placed in a sealed safety deposit box and only collected after the war was over.

Its evacuation meant the codex had survived two man-made disasters. It had survived the devastating Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century and the carnage of the Second World War in 1941.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Americas: Central America: Mexico
  • Date made
    1521 before
  • Materials
    Deer hide; Gesso; Paint
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer, 1867
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
    1867 before
  • Measurements
    175 mm x 175 mm x 4040 mm
  • Note
    The Codex Fejéváry-Mayer is one of the most precious and remarkable artefacts to have survived from the time before Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, in 1521. Before the Spanish invasion, Mesoamerica was known as the land of codices or books. From Mexico to Nicaragua, this type of folded book on deerskin or paper with its characteristic way of writing and its own calendar, was well known. Invading Europeans burned whole libraries of books in huge bonfires, fearing their intellectual power. Today, only a dozen or so screenfold books in the Native tradition are known to have survived and only half of these - like the Codex Fejéváry-Mayer - were made before 1521.
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer ( Associated Person, collector, previous owner)


Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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