There's a treasure in Downtown El Paso.
That's how Robert Keller describes an incredibly well-preserved edition of "Mexican Antiquities" by Lord Kingsborough.
Its pages contain ancient messages from the Aztecs and Mayans. The book consists of nine massive volumes and was the most comprehensive book about the Mayan and Aztec cultures by Europeans in the 1830s.
English author Lord Kingsborough coined the term "Aztec" and spent his fortune and his life compiling all printed and known history of the Mexican indigenous groups.
"There are hand-colored drawings in color, for back in the 1830s without copying machines, reproduction is amazing and these are done by one individual by hand," said Russell Keller, Robert's son, who's currently working on a book about the owners of the different copies of the famous book.
Only 200 copies were printed and only 70 were printed in color. Maud Sullivan, one of El Paso's first librarians, paid $450 for the nine volumes in 1924.
"I still think that she recognized the value and the quality of the books," said Russell Keller.
Sullivan bought the book from William Ritch, who was then lieutenant governor of New Mexico territory.
Ritch bought the book from a book dealer. He became intrigued by Mayan and Aztec cultures because he worked under Lew Wallace, who was previously the governor of the New Mexico territory, who studied indigenous tribes and also wrote Ben Hur.
The Kellers traced the books back to their previous owners and interviewed Ritch's family, who now lives in Tularosa, New Mexico.
"It's very special because you only find them in the biggest libraries of the world. Individuals have them, you know, multimillionaires, very rich people, but they're in the Vatican, the royal libraries of Spain and France and Dresden," said Robert Keller.
And in El Paso's Downtown public library.