Rare Book Monthly
Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2006 Issue
The Latest from Spanish Bookseller Comellas
By Michael Stillman
This month we review our first catalogue from a Spanish bookseller, Libreria Anticuaria Comellas (Antiquarian Bookshop Comellas), of Barcelona. Now this does not mean you should only look to Comellas for Spanish books. In fact, the heaviest concentration in this latest catalogue would appear to be works in French. Perhaps that should not be entirely surprising. Before moving to Barcelona five years ago, Comellas was located in France for thirty years.
Comellas covers a wide range of material. They describe their selections as being books and documents from the 15th through 19th centuries. Fields include science, medicine, literature, arts, philosophy, religion, politics, children's books and more. In other words, just about everything.
Normally, we try to give some samples from a catalogue so readers will have a feel for what is available. We will make a feeble attempt here, but will acknowledge that this effort is totally inadequate. The listings are written in French or other continental languages, while this reviewer knows only English and a smattering of long ago high school French. Americans, sadly, speak the languages of few other nations, even if we do know what is best for them (please understand that this statement is a joke). So I will try to describe a few items, and then ask you to visit their website, where you can better understand what Comellas actually offers, and maybe ask to get on their mailing list.
Many priests and ministers struggle to get their congregations to show up. Evidently this was not necessary for Diego Alvarez de Paz, a Spanish Jesuit missionary to South America who lived from 1560-1620. Alvarez served as a professor of theology and philosophy in Peru for twenty years, where he became a mythical figure. He was said to have the gift of prophecy. Alvarez became so revered that when he traveled to Potosi in Bolivia as he neared death, the whole city is said to have come out to greet him. The 100,000 men working in the land's silver mines reportedly stopped work on the day he died. Item 2 is a copy of his work De Vita Religiose Instituenda libellus, published in 1612. Priced at C750 (Euros, or US equivalent of $952).
Samuel Bard was an American physician of the highest caliber. Indeed, he was the personal physician for George Washington, who credited Dr. Bard with saving his life after the latter removed a growth from his leg in 1789. Item 7 is Recherches sur la nature, la cause et le traitement du Croup ou Angine Suffocative, the 1810 first French edition of his rare "An Inquiry Into the Nature, Cause and Cure, of the Angina Suffocative or Sore-throat Distemper," originally published in 1771. This was a pioneering work on diphtheria. Bard was the first to accurately describe this dreaded killer disease. Item 7. C600 (US $762).