Two examples of marcas de fuego, or book brands, from the Recoleta’s collection. This marking practice is more typically seen in Mexican monastic libraries, but was also common at the Recoleta. To remove the mark, one would have to guillotine the entire edge off the text block, potentially risking the text inside, making this an effective marking system. Most of our brands appear at the head of the text block, some on the tail, and a few on both edges. We don’t often find them on the fore edge.



No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

This 1604 Salamanca imprint met the wrong end of an inquisitor’s pen and razor in 1616 in Potosi, a major mining town in modern Bolivia. 

My Spanish paleography skills are rough at best, so if anyone would like to take a stab at translating, feel free. From what I can tell, the inquisitor helpfully instructs the reader to “turn the page” on the title page and lays out a rationale for his work on the verso. The third and fourth photos show an expurgation with evidence of both the pen and the razor, and a view of the sewing follows.


Here’s an interesting binding. There’s an 1823 Arequipa imprint on a pamphlet bound with the primary text, which I’ll try to identify later. Although printing began in Peru in 1584, it all occurred in Lima until national independence in 1821. The first Arequipa imprint is in the same year. 

The heavy grime suggests repeated study–the darker the area, the greater the use. For such a thick book, the spine is in great shape and is remarkably resilient.



As a followup to the earlier Manicule post, here are two more interesting examples of marginalia. The first is an eye, which I have never come across before in any other book. It reminds me of when I was a music student and players would pencil eyeglasses into the margins of band or orchestra sheet music, meaning “look at the conductor.” This one presumably means the opposite, “look closer at the page.”

The second is another manicule; although, this one is better rendered than those in the previous post. There is a nice shirt ruffle around the wrist, and perhaps knuckles or rings depicted at the base of the fingers.


Biblioteca Nacional

(1962/1992) F. Bullrich, A. Cazzaniga de Bullrich, y Clorindo Testa (arqs.)

Agüero 252 - Recoleta - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Luego de un prolongado raid arquitectónico de treinta años, iniciado con un concurso de proyectos en octubre de 1962, sobre el terreno que perteneciera a la quinta Unzué – ex residencia presidencial – irrumpe con notable potencia expresiva la arquitectura ‘brutalista’ de esta pieza arquitectónica única, en el recinto verde conformado y contrastado por los densificados bordes edilicios urbanos. La división programática en organismos funcionales independientes articulados mediante plazas y terrazas, la exaltación y concentración de su estructura en cuatro pilares, la inserción de 'cápsulas espaciales’ colgadas de su estructura, así como la manipulacíon plástica del hormigón visto, constituyen las características singulares que lo convierten en un hito urbano sin precedentes.