Madrid: Ibarra, Impresor de Camara de S.M., 1821. 8vo (183 x 125 mm).  f., xvi, 240, 99,  pp. With an engraved portrait of the author. Title-page with 6 inexplicable pin-sized wormholes, front flyleaf with one (present nowhere else in the volume). Contemporary Madrid binding by Francisco Cifuentes: sheep acid-stained in hues of green and brown, gilt roll border and a center device of Royal arms of Ferdinand VII, spine gilt extra (extremities and joints with some unobjectionable wear). Contents very fresh and clean, the binding suitable for exhibition and study. Very good. Item #3623
THE IDEAL COPY, BOUND BY FRANCISCO CIFUENTES, BINDER TO THE SPANISH COURT, BEARING THE ARMS OF FERNANDO VII KING OF SPAIN, AND PRINTED AT THE ROYAL PRESS BY THE HEIRS OF JOAQUIN IBARRA.
THE BINDER Francisco Cifuentes is justly considered to be "one of the best binders in Madrid in the early 19th-century" alongside his contemporaries Santiago Martin and Antonio Suarez (Vicente Castaneda, "Etiquetas de Encuadernadores," in: Revista de la Bibliotheca Archivo y Museo, No. 2, 1935, p. 169). The sobre elegance of our binding is very similar to the Santiago Martin example reproduced in "Great Bindings from the Spanish Royal Collections" fig. 140, on a copy of the 1795 Bodoni Rossi now in the Royal Library of Spain (RB VIII/2322).
The reign of Ferdinand VII (1814-1833) represents the apogee of Spanish bookbinding, and is characterized by its Empire style, the luminous quality of the acid-treated "Valencia" style leather, and -- in some instances -- "cortina" designs. As one of the premier binders to the court, Cifuentes followed Antonio Suarez, Santiago Martin, and Pedro Pastor, and was succeeded by Tomas Cobo, Gabriel de Sancha, and Miguel Ginesta de Haro (see Mathilde Lopez-Serrano, "Le decor 'de cortina' dans la reliure espagnole de style Empire" in: Bulletin du Bibliophile, 1978, no. 1, p. 33). Cifuentes also executed bindings for the Royal Academy of History in San Fernando (see Yohana Yessica Flores Hernandez, "Los Encuadernadores de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando" in: RUIDERAe - Revista de Unidades de Informacion, no. 12, 2nd semestre 2017). Thirty-three bindings by Cifuentes are recorded in the Real Biblioteca (contact us for the census). Our specimen is decorated with the extremely distinctive outer roll that appears on Cifuentes's signed binding on the "Estatutos de la Real Orden de la Reina Maria Luisa" (RB I/F/356).
Bindings by Cifuentes are rare in private ownership: we have located only two examples of his work on the market. The first is a Large Paper copy of the 1780 Ibarra Quixote, extra-illustrated with proofs, which appeared in Sawyer's 1944 Catalogue 175 (no. 77, GBP 40). NB: this may be the very set that earned Cifuentes a silver medal at the 1828 Junta de Calificacion de los productos de la Industria (NB: in 1833 it sold for 4000 Reales). The judges of the competition stated that Francisco Cifuentes "could be put at the level of the most illustrious bookbinders in Europe." (SOURCE: Memoria de la Junta de Calificación de los productos de la Industria, no. 138 and pp. 61, 67, 96, 191). The second is a copy of the four-volume 1780 Ibarra Quixote that sold in 2019 at Alcala Auctions Madrid, bound by Cifuentes in 1/2 vellum over boards.
THE TEXT is one of the most interesting descriptions of Mexico, first published in Mexico City in 1604, being a pastoral novel in prose and verse. Our volume contains the third printing of the "Siglo de oro" and the second of the "Grandeza mexicana." The text was edited by Real Academia Espanola de la Lengua, and its authority may be relied upon. Shockingly, this edition is NOT listed in the catalogue of the Real Biblioteca (!)
The "Grandeza" was Balbuena's first published work, appearing from the press of Pedro Ocharte. It pays homage to Mexico's resources and to its spirituality, society, and politics. The "Grandeza" is justly considered to be a major work of Novohispanic literature. The "Siglo de Oro" was the author's second published work; it first appeared in Madrid in 1608 and is composed of a series of 12 eclogues.
THE AUTHOR was born in Spain in 1568 and at two years of age moved with his family to Mexico; there he was educated, and held his earliest administrative positions; in 1607 he returned to Spain for his doctoral studies. He held various ecclesiastical posts, and in 1622 was appointed the bishop of Puerto Rico (see: Archivo biografico de Espana, Portugal e Iberoamerica).
In every way a superb Spanish book.
Palau 22339. Sabin 2863. Medina, Mexico II, pp. 14-15. Simon Diaz 2286.