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12 May 2017
As you know by now, our taste for bibliographical curiosities, atypical works and singular authors is inexhaustible; however, we also do appreciate the great value of the classics, the must-haves, the monuments of bibliophilia!

In more than one way, the work we’d like to present to you today is indeed one of those monuments: issued from the presses of master printer Joaquín Ibarra, one of the greatest printers of the 18th century, this edition of Juan de Mariana’s Historia general de España is considered by some "the most carefully crafted, with the most perfect text"! (Palau)

Printed by Ibarra in two volumes in-folio in 1780 (the same year as his famous edition of the Quixote, still considered by many the most beautiful ever made), Mariana's text is a true monument of the historiography of the country, here in its final Spanish version!

Like the 1780 Quixote, some copies of this edition directed by the Real Academia Española were destined for the libraries of some members of the royal family!

Why not adding it to yours?

Great Printers
posted by  Benjamin at  16:05 | 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]

10 Mar 2017
A unique copy ?
At a time when our every movements are tracked by the biggest computers on the planet and when every one of us is on record, one way or another, we are somehow glad we can present to you a rare bird, a champion of discretion, a phenomenon seemingly unnoticed by the most sophisticated radars, and perhaps even by the passionate bibliophiles you are !

Would you believe that this philosophical work on Physics by Antoine Chamerlat – a professor of philosophy at the Collège de Clermont and a contemporary of Blaise Pascal (whom is referred to in the book) – is not listed in any of the databases and catalogues we have consulted ?! What if its author’s name solely appears in an obscure collection of poems on the Velay region of France ?!

A complete stranger, I tell you ! Even Big Brothers Google and Amazon have never heard of it !

Not even listed by the famous WorldCat, the world's largest bibliographical catalogue !

...Had you ever come across such an obscure celebrity ?

Not in WorldCat
posted by  Benjamin at  15:52 | permalink | comments [0]

3 Mar 2017
As a inaugural post for our series on great printers, here is a FABULOUS little volume !

Regarded as “essential in a typographic collection” by some, this collection of fables by Pierre Didot was printed on vellum paper (an invention just imported to France from England by Didot), and notably includes the famous Epître sur les progrès de l’imprimerie, a topic on which the various members of the Didot dynasty had more or less won their spurs: among other crucial developments, they are credited with the invention of the one-strike press, with developing the most popular unit of measurement of fonts ever (the “ Didot point”), or with creating the popular Didone typographical characters - which still make the front cover of magazines, like that of the American fashion magazine Vogue, for example !

Is there a Didot in your library ? If not, this exquisite little volume might be your chance !

Great Printers
posted by  Benjamin at  16:10 | permalink | comments [0]

24 Feb 2017
Charles of Habsburg, February, 24th, and the number 5
When one looks into history, there are details and coincidences which defy belief, but which we know you are fond of ! And so are we !
Today, we are especially addressing those of you who have a taste for astrology, numerology, arithmancy... or for the history of the Spanish Golden Age!
This 24th of February, 55th day of the year, marks the anniversary of Charles of Habsburg, better known as Charles V, born in 1500.
Most interestingly, the latter was crowned Emperor Charles, 5th of the name, in the year 1530... on February, 24th ! And what do you say about the fact that the monarch withdrew in favour of his younger brother Ferdinand on... Take a guess... February, 24th, 1558 !
In honour of this extraordinary man, and in order to help you solve the mysteries of these fascinating coincidences, we are pleased to present to you De Statu Religionis et Reipublicae, Carolo Quinto Cesare, Commentarij , a biography of Charles V in the context of the Reform by the historian and diplomat Johannes Sleidanus.

Friends of letters, friends of numbers, please share with us other synchronies and concordances of the sort !

posted by  Benjamin at  17:51 | permalink | comments [2]

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

3 Feb 2017
D'Holbach in Madrid or The Return of Enigma Bibliographica !
You and I know that the Librairie Comellas is a unique place, but we have to admit that we are not the first booksellers whose hearts are split between the two sides of the Pyrénées mountains...

A proof of this is this book published in 1819, commissioned by one of our predecessors who had also fell in love with the Iberian Peninsula: a rare Spanish edition of “La Morale Universelle” by Baron d'Holbach, commissioned by Guillaume Denné, a Parisian librarian who settled in Madrid at the beginning of the 19th century. Printed by the famous typographer Jean-Baptiste Pinard in... Bordeaux [in french, “pinard” is slang for cheap wine], it is a counterfeit edition of a translation initially published in the Spanish capital, dated 1812.

The nephew of a Parisian bookseller who had been imprisoned at the Bastille because of his illegal publications, our bookseller had specialized in the importation of French works censored in Spain. Obviously, the dissemination of the book was not easy: the injured translator denounced the fraudulent edition, and the Spanish authorities not only ordered its destruction, but the translation itself was put on the Index by the Spanish Inquisition !

We certainly donnot condone the fraudulent activities of the French bookseller, yet one is forced to admit that his was a genuine love for books, a love which knew neither boundaries nor limits !

The most faithful of our readers may remember the “Enigma Bibliographica” which we published a long time ago, and which we have decided to revive ! We will regularly ask for your help with the mysteries we sometimes cannot resolve... If only you are willing to take the challenge !

In this case, it seems to us the Spanish publication of D’Holbach’s materialist breviary may not have revealed all of its secrets: indeed, why does the venerable Palau make no mention of the first edition dated 1812 (of which many copies have been conserved), and why does he quote our Bordeaux edition as the first Spanish translation of this text ? What’s more: if this translation was first published in 1812, why did it take until 1821 for the Inquisition to examine and condemn it ?

Book lovers, bibliographers extraordinaire, scholars of all trades, here’s your challenge !

Enigma Bibliographica
posted by  Benjamin at  17:04 | permalink | comments [0]

27 Jan 2017
"Next Stop: Lesseps !"
Let us evoke this week one of our most illustrious compatriots who lived here in Barcelona, the diplomat and entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894). While many inhabitants of Barcelona may only have a vague idea of the personality of the founder of the Suez Canal enterprise, the Lesseps name is known here to everyone: many have passed through the Plaça Lesseps, served by a metro stop of the same name, and the most Francophiles of course know the prestigious Ecole Française Ferdinand de Lesseps, founded by the former Consul-General of France who had won the hearts of the Barcelonese during the popular uprising of 1842.

In 1849, at the height of his diplomatic career, the emissary had been entrusted with a mission of conciliation between the Republicans in power in Rome and the Vatican. Finally disavowed by Napoleon III, in the tumultuous context of Italy's Wars of Unification, he was accused of collusion with the enemy and called to appear before the Assembly and the Council of State. Ferdinand de Lesseps published several writings in response to these accusations. The last of them was this rare memoir, of which we are pleased to present this remarkable copy, bound at the time in ornamented calf. The book constitutes, to some extent, the diplomatic will of the man who, deeply wounded by the injustice he considered himself a victim of, would put an end to a diplomatic career for which his name is now known to all the Barcelonese.

posted by  Benjamin at  16:31 | 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]

13 Jan 2017
Zola's Campaigns
« J’accuse ! »… Everybody knows about Zola’s famous open letter, which was published in the French daily L’Aurore on January 13th, in 1898...and which is 119 old today.
As we celebrate its anniversary, let us quote the journalist turned novelist, who was always eager to reconcile literature and journalism: « One returns to [the press] as to old loves. It is life, it is action, exhilarating and triumphant. Whenever one leaves it, one can never swear that it will be forever... ».
A reputed writer, Zola would continue to give great importance to the press, by means of which he led his numerous public campaigns.
« Une Campagne » is precisely the title he gave to one of the collections of press articles he published. Dealing wih the current political and literary issues of his time, the articles were originally published in the French daily Le Figaro between 1880 and 1881. The « polemical articles » were published in a single volume in 1882, and we are pleased to present to you an exceptional copy of its first edition, one of the ten copies printed on China paper.

posted by  Benjamin at  16:20 | 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]

25 Nov 2016
A special guest
Of all the treasures that we receive every week, some attract one’s attention at first glance: an elegant vellum binding, a massive title that instantly evokes the famous errings of an ingenious Hidalgo... You do see who I'm talking about, don’t you ?
Our renowned visitor is none other than the 1671 reprint of the first illustrated Spanish edition of Don Quixote ! It contains the same 16 plates usually credited to the Anvers engraver Frederick Bouttats, copied from the plates drawn by Jacques Savary for the very first illustrated edition of Cervantes’s masterpiece, the 1657 Dutch edition. It also displays two completely new frontispieces, engraved by Launers.

Needless to say we’re pampering him !

posted by  Benjamin at  18:30 | permalink | comments [0]

10 Nov 2016
Comellas stands out as one of the best bookstores in Barcelona
Among all the unique bookstores in the Catalan capital, Comellas has become a must. Located in the very heart of the city, its shelves display all kinds of rare and ancient books, on a variety of topics and themes. And we are not claiming it, but Jorge Carrión, a Catalan writer and professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona whose words were reported by The Guardian journalist Christian House in an article translated and published in the Buenos Aires daily Clarín .

posted by  Benjamin at  16:43 | permalink | comments [1]

26 Jun 2013
Selection 24/06/2013
Like every week the bookstore has published a new selection of books on the Best Deals section. Discounts can go up to 40 % but hurry up, they will only last one week…

- ARNAUD D'ANDILLY (Robert). De Vita Christi Carmen e gallico latine redditum.
- CATALOGO de la Real Armeria, mandado formar por S.M. siendo director general de Reales Caballerizas, Armeria y Yeguada, el Excmo. Señor Don José Maria Marchesi.
- CHEVALIER (Michel). CHEVALIER (Michel).
- ESPIARD (Abbé F.-I. d'). L'Esprit des Nations. Nouvelle édition revue et corrigée.
- FILLEUL DE PETIGNY (Cl.). Voyages en Suisse. Description des Curiosités Naturelles.
- GUICHARD (Jean-François). Fables et autres Poésies suivies de quelques Morceaux de Prose.
- MARTIN (Barthelemy). Traité du Lait et de l'usage qu'on en doit faire et de la manière d'en user.
- MEMOIRE sur les Travaux d'Amélioration exécutés aux Embouchures du Danube par la Commission Européenne instituée en vertu de l'article 16 du Traité de Paris du 30 mars 1856.
- PERINT (C.). Compiègne, la Forêt, et Pierrefonds.
- THIEURY (Jules). Bibliographie Italico-Normande contenant: 1). un essai historique sur les relations entre l'Italie et la Normandie; 2). une Bibliothèque des ouvrages relatifs aux relations des deux pays; 3). une Bibliothèque des Ouvrages relatifs à l'Italie, composés par des auteurs normands.
posted by  Vivian at  12:01 | permalink | comments [0]

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