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11 Nov 2017
The Metric System
Today, as we celebrate both World Science Day for Peace and Development and the "Dia de las librerías" here in Barcelona, we invite you to discover this precious book from 1796, intended to publicize the metric system- the implementation of which was one of the most brilliant manifestations of the rational and universalist ideals of the French Revolution!
The 17 memoirs, plates and tables that make up this collection first appeared separately, before being bound here together under a collective title; the work also contains the text of the law of Germinal, 18th, Year III (1795) which established the metric system throughout the territory of the French Republic.

May peace and centimeters be upon you!

posted by  Benjamin at  11:52 | permalink | comments [0]

20 Oct 2017
So British!
Next week, we will look forward to seeing you at INK Fair, in London! Julien Comellas has filled his suitcases with a hundred fantastic books! Among them, this precious collection of 38 original drawings of women’s hats, certainly the work of Parisian fashion designer from the 1920s!

posted by  Benjamin at  17:00 | permalink | comments [0]

13 Oct 2017
"La théorie des chances"
Did you know that, on Friday, 13th, while many around the globe fear they might be hit by some bad luck, most French people hope to get lucky and win the traditional Friday 13th lottery?!
So if you feel like defying the odds of the lottery and taking your ultimate chance at fulfilling your secret dream of a scholarly retreat on a distant island, let me recommend you read Antoine Cournot's Exposition de la Théorie des Chances et des Probabilités (Paris, 1843), of which it is our pleasure to present to you a beautiful copy of the first edition!
I know that the odds of winning are about 1 out of 139000000, but there is absolutely no way I give in to "paraskevidekatriaphobia"!
You do as you please! I will send you postcards from my island!

posted by  Benjamin at  17:33 | permalink | comments [0]

6 Oct 2017
"Liars Academy"
According to some commentators of the political spectacle, we would have entered a new era, that of the "post-truth", in which conspiracy theories , emotions and "fake news" would finally have prevailed over objectivity, reason and truth.

It seems to us, however, that some commentators seem to forget a little quickly that lying is old as the hills...old as politics!

The truth is, in these days, many a politician could easily graduate from the “Académie des menteurs”! (Paris, 1838)


posted by  Benjamin at  17:36 | permalink | comments [0]

29 Sep 2017
We're back !
The truth is we were never really gone, you know that! After a very intense summer here in Barcelona, we are ready for an autumn (*) which promises to be tempestuous!

All aboard! Captain's on the helm! The course is set! The crew is on deck, ready for reefing if necessary! This journey will not be a quiet one, but you can always come always come visit our quarters: the shelves are here filled with wonderful books for you to discover! Be our guests!

(*) For the uninitiated, an ancestral municipal ordinance stipulates that in Barcelona the summer lasts at least until October, 10th, with a minimum temperature of 25ºC at noon, four times a week, preferably on weekends.
posted by  Benjamin at  18:07 | permalink | comments [0]

7 Jul 2017
Of Erudites and Marriage
Dear lovers of knowledge, of books and of shelves, is there any room for marriage
in your libraries? In your opinion, should maverick intellectuals, hermit scholars and collectomaniac bibliophiles take the oath of marriage?

Inspired, not by personal questioning (well, maybe a little bit...), but by a curious German work from the early eighteenth century, we are asking for your personal position on a delicate question of eternal relevance!

Published in 1715 under the pseudonym of Irénée Carpentier, Eruditorum Coelibum Centuria Singularis is a collection of short biographical notices of great minds who never married, by a certain Gottfried Wagener – whose marital status we may guess!... Curiously enough, the work also includes the first edition of the treatise on the marriage of scholars by the German poet Mellemann – according to which scholars should not flee from matrimonial union – as well as Daniel Heinsius’s letter on “the qualities of a woman suitable for a scholar”... It seems, then, that long before us, Mr. Wagener also had his own doubts!

Dear enlightened minds, do you think it reasonable to take the plunge ? For both parties? ...Dear spouses of bibliophiles, were you really aware of the phenomenon when the two of you exchanged wedding rings ? Or is it that you were seduced by his collection of incunabula?

posted by  Benjamin at  17:34 | permalink | comments [0]

23 Jun 2017
The Story of the Devil’s Trial (1604)

For more information on the manuscript, click here.

posted by  Benjamin at  15:18 | permalink | comments [2]

16 Jun 2017
"The true inventor of the lightning rod"
While yesterday, June, 15th , some mentioned the anniversary of the night that Benjamin Franklin braved the violent summer storm that struck Philadelphia in order to conduct the famous kite experience, our thoughts went to the French physicist Jacques de Romas (1718-1776), considered by many as the true inventor of the lightning rod!

The detailed account of his experiences and of the controversies related to the paternity of the discovery is to be found in this Mémoire sur les moyens de se garantir de la foudre dans les maisons; suivi d'une lettre sur l'invention du cerf-volant électrique, avec les pièces justificatives de cette même lettre which was printed in Bordeaux at the twilight of Romas’s life, and of which we’d like to present to you a very fine copy!

posted by  Benjamin at  15:44 | permalink | comments [2]

9 Jun 2017
The "Recueil Léonard"
Once upon a time, on June, 9th, an incredible effervescence seized the little Basque town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz: the French Roi Soleil married the Infanta of Spain!

A few months earlier, after long weeks of hard negotiations that took place in the famous Pheasant Island, Bourbons and Habsburgs - respectively represented by Mazarin and Luis de Haro - finally found common ground! The Treaty of the Pyrenees was finally concluded, and the contract for the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Austria was drawn up, a consecration of the rapprochement between the two main European powers of the time!

These two documents, along with all the treaties signed by France between 1435 and 1692, are to be found in the "Léonard collection", of which we’d like present to you a nice copy of the first edition, in its contemporary binding!

Compiled by the Brussels-born printer-librarian Frédéric Léonard, this precious collection contains all the international treaties signed by France since the Middle Ages, including agreements signed with the Maghreb countries, with Muscovy or Siam, and even... with the Iroquois Nation!

Quite a piece of diplomatic history, isn’t it?

posted by  Benjamin at  16:13 | permalink | comments [0]

19 May 2017
Eikon Basilike
Perhaps frightened by the uncommonly low rainfall in Barcelona, few British works reach the shelves of the bookstore! The work we present to you today is therefore an exception, and not the least: here is a copy of the first edition of the first French translation of the legendary Eikon Basilike !

Published in 1649, a few weeks after the decapitation of King Charles I, this apocryphal autobiography of the late monarch was translated almost immediately into several languages, including this French translation by Norman writer Denis Cailloué, which was actually printed in London.

Our joy would not have been complete had we not been able to present to you the superb allegorical portal on the frontispiece, which is lacking in many copies: one is tempted to think that this fascinating depiction of Charles as a martyr perhaps contributed to the immense success of the work!

Many among you will of course have noted that we choose to bring a light to the king’s portrait on… the very anniversary day of the Proclamation of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England!
Here’s our tribute to our British friends’ legendary sense of humor!

posted by  Benjamin at  16:21 | permalink | comments [0]

5 May 2017
The Decimal Language
On the eve of the second round of the presidential elections in France, we would like to leave aside the antagonizing debates for a moment and draw a light on a book whose author, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, tried hard "to bring people closer together by the sweet bond of brotherhood "… by means of a universal language!

Even we, fervent defenders of linguistic diversity, are fascinated by this extraordinary linguistic utopia by Jean Delormel: a universal language based on the decimal system and the rational principles of the philosophy of the Enlightenment!

Certainly, for languages lovers like you and I, the use of the decimal system as a linguistic principle does not seem very attractive… but is it not how our computers communicate with each other, and therefore, how I’m addressing to you right now?

00101001 100101 01001 0000 0101010 00110 ! (*)

[(*) We wish you a pleasant week-end!]
posted by  Benjamin at  17:41 | permalink | comments [2]

28 Apr 2017
The Organic Telegraph
In this global village, and in the era of instant messaging services and blog posts read live around the world on our mobile phones (you are being watched indeed!), let us not forget that today’s latest tools are tomorrow’s antiques!

This proof is this book of another age, by the French-German physician and inventor Auguste-Guillaume Schwenger, published just 217 years ago, in which the author presented his own variant of the Chappe telegraph, variant based on the use of the human body to form print characters observable remotely through a telescope!

That, dear readers, is what you call a communication exercise!

posted by  Benjamin at  15:02 | permalink | comments [1]

21 Apr 2017
"Bona diada de Sant Jordi" !
This Sunday, World Book Day, we will have the pleasure of strolling in a city of Barcelona in full effervescence on the occasion of the “Diada de Sant Jordi”: throughout the whole city, the inhabitants will celebrate Saint George, the saint patron of Catalonia, gifting books and red roses to their loved ones, in a great celebration of culture !
While our French friends will also certainly celebrate World Book Day, we know that they are occupied by matters of the highest importance, as they will be voting to elect their new head of state on Sunday !
On this occasion, let us present to you this very rare work by Antonio Pérez i Maxo, who between 1627 and 1632 was the Bishop of Urgell, a province of Catalonia that borders on the principality of Andorra. As such, and as some of you know for sure, the Bishop of Urgell was and still is one of the two co-princes of the Andorran throne, a position he holds along with... the head of the French State !
Let us hope then that, like Pérez i Maxo, a man of great erudition and a fertile writer, the next French president will also be a lover of books and culture !

Antonio Pérez i Maxo, "Constituciones Synodales del Obispado de Urgel, para los Parochos, y Clerigos", Barcelona: Pedro Lacavalleria, 1632. (Cf. Palau, 60332)

posted by  Benjamin at  15:51 | permalink | comments [2]

13 Apr 2017
A little bit more courtesy, please !
In these times of widespread political tension, let us remind our leaders (and those who aspire to become so !) of some basic rules of common courtesy !

posted by  Benjamin at  14:38 | permalink | comments [0]

7 Apr 2017
De ars articulationem
Our most dedicated readers know about our very special interest in medicine and the works which have marked its advances; today being World Health Day, we could not miss the opportunity to present to you a very special work on the topic !

Published in the year 1802 and unrecorded by the authors of the top medical bibliographies which we have consulted, this work entitled Principes d’Arthrologie ou l'Art d'étudier méthodiquement les articulations du corps humain ("Principles of Arthrology, or the Art of studying the articulations of the human body methodically") is probably the first ever monograph on the topic and, as far as we know, its author Dr. Jean-François Seneaux from the University of Montpellier is to be credited with coining the term "arthrology" !

Synovist bibliophiles, articulators of knowledge, cartilaginous collectors, do not hesitate to light our lanterns if you know more about the topic ! But do not forget to warm up and stretch yourself before and after the effort !

posted by  Benjamin at  15:45 | permalink | comments [0]

31 Mar 2017
Thank you, Senyor Subirá !
Today, the day of Saint Benjamin, I have arbitrarily decided to share with you one of the most striking works I have had the pleasure working on along the course of the recent months: a very unique piece, full of humor, tenderness... and catalanness !

The work of a certain Mr. L. Subirá, this superb manuscript of a comic strip is dated from 1927. Dedicated to the author's wife, it was nonetheless intended to be read by young hearts of all ages: the 55 colored pencil and ink drawings which compose it depict the tragicomic wanderings of a bleach merchant... and his donkey ! (The famous "ruc catalá", which perhaps inspired the donkey Benjamin of George Orwell...)

For hours, I tried to find out who exactly was the brilliant author of this beautiful tale, in vain, but had tremendous fun following the two anti-heroes on the roads of the Barcelona area, in the shopping streets of the Catalan villages of Sant Llorenç or Gelida, between the displays of pine nuts, garrofón bean or sobrasada. Yum !

So, whoever you are, thank you, Mr. Subirá !

posted by  Benjamin at  16:43 | permalink | comments [0]

17 Mar 2017
Rousseau at an Irsihman's in Montpellier
You and I know about the legendary hospitality of the people whose members and friends will today be walking along the streets of all the great cities of the world, dressed in green for the occasion – the colour of the shamrock and the wild fields of the island of Éire ! That very hospitality led the author of the work we’d like to present to you today to have none other than Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a guest !

On this Saint Patrick's Day and as a tribute to all the Irish people of the world, we present to you a very rare medical thesis defended in 1749 by Thomas Fitz-Maurice in the prestigious Faculty of Medicine in Montpellier, a city where this Irishman had established in order to pursue his medical studies and where (perhaps seduced by the low rainfall of the Mediterranean climate ...) he would remain all his life.

A few years before presenting this thesis, M. Fils-de-Maurice had the honour of having Rousseau staying at his boarding-house – the philosopher was (wrongly) convinced he suffered from a heart polyp and meant to have it cured by the best specialists. It is unknown whether Rousseau’s case served as a basis for the study of the similarities between the hysterical and hypochondriac passions contained in the work, but the chapter on narcotic convulsions could turn out to be very topical this evening, with all that stout beer flowing !

posted by  Benjamin at  16:21 | permalink | comments [1]

21 Feb 2017
I beg your pardon ?
posted by  Benjamin at  16:16 | permalink | comments [0]

20 Jan 2017
From One Inauguration to Another...
As the whole world is watching the ceremony in Washington, D.C., on a day which incidentally is the anniversary of the birth of King Charles III of Spain (January 20, 1716 - December 14, 1788), we have decided to evoke another inauguration.
It is our pleasure to present to you a fine copy of El Triumpho Mayor de Alcides (1760), a work that Grenadian poet Francisco Scotti Fernández de Córdoba (1704-1770) composed for the coronation celebrations of the Spanish monarch, and which was printed by Spanish master typographer Joaquín Ibarra.
Scotti’s work is a theatrical play of classical inspiration, which features such great figures of Greek mythology as Theseus or the Amazons, and which ends in an apotheosis of songs and dances, dedicated to the glory of the king and queen, Marie-Amelie of Saxony. Most interestingly, the introductory loa features allegorical incarnations of virtues such as Loyalty, Justice, Courage, Merit, Liberality, Genius or Goodness.
One can only wish that these virtues also accompany the 45th President of the United States of America, the independance of which was facilitated by the action of Carlos III himself.

posted by  Benjamin at  15:34 | permalink | comments [0]

5 Jan 2017
A king's present
While many here are about celebrate Three Kings, let us remember that not all kings were as benevolent, especially with regards to the object of our passion: the book !
This new year marks the 300 anniversary of the publication of this royal ordinance, with which the prohibition of the printing and sale of books without prior authorization was renewed. As if reading was evil !
Three centuries later, let us hope that the Kings will be more generous to us book lovers of all ages…
The entire Librairie Comellas team wishes you a year full of enlightening reads and freedom !

posted by  Benjamin at  16:26 | permalink | comments [0]

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