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 ?

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 !

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 !

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

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