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]

26 May 2017
Today, we continue our series of tributes to some of the greatest printers in History by presenting one of the most emblematic works of the great humanist scholar Henri Estienne!

Born of a line of French scholarly printers, Estienne was one of the great artisans in the rediscovery of the Greek and Latin classics, in search of which he travelled all over Europe! His annotated edition of the Greek Anthology, of which we present to you a remarkable copy, remained for a long time one of the authoritative editions!

Printed in Geneva in 1566, this copy was bound in full morocco in the 19th century, and bears the ex-libris of the English magistrate – one of the first to refute Darwin's theories – Robert Mackenzie Beverley: here is a very nice and unique piece of European literary history!

posted by  Benjamin at  15:44 | 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]

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?

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]

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