Tag Archives: antiquarian bookstore

The tale of the bear that traveled through time and space

Once upon a time, in around 1622, a printer was in need of an ornament. He wanted something striking and useful. Something he could use in a few different ways: in a chapter header or as a tailpiece. It also had to be interesting, perhaps interesting enough to entertaining to enhance the text his was printing.

In those days,  the printer – publisher needed every advantage to attract readers in order to make a profit on his printing venture (nothing has changed!).

What inspired him to create a bear? Bears do represent courage, strength and leadership.

Could be that a circus came to visit Coloniae Agrippinae, or Koln as it is now better known, nevertheless a bear was created in the shop of Johannes Gymnici in 1622, and with it two accompanying sides to form a chapter header. He printed in Alexandri Alensis Angli, Doct. Irrefragabilis Ordinis Minorvm, Vniversae theologiae svmma, in qvatvor partes ab ipsomet avthore distribvta (NLA RBf 230 A374)

The bear poking his tongue out at the men and dogs on either side of him.

This bear was not content to remain in one town and in that same year he was seen in Amsterdam, this time with Michel Colin.

The bear was found in Description des Indes occidentales, qu’on appelle sujourdhuy le Novveau monde / par Antoine de Herrera… Translatee d’espagnol en francois
(NLA RBq JAF 102)

In 1628, the bear found its way to the city of Arras and stayed with the De Riviere brothers.

In a chapter header – Note the eyes and ears are slightly different.

This chapter header was printed in Ioannis Cassiani opera omnia / cvm commentariis D. Alardi Gazaei (NLA RBf CLI 3865)

His cousin or perhaps younger brother, although similar, was found in Lyon in 1659 with Barbier and Girin.

Found in R.D.P.F. Heiron. Baptistae de Lanvza… Homiliae qvadragesimales: ex Hispanico idiomate in Latinvm… translated (NLA RBf CLi 4053)

By 1687, the bear was getting on, and made its way to London to visit with Thomas Braddyll.

Glossarium Archaiologicum (SLSA)

The last time I saw the bear was in 1700 in Antwerp perhaps returning to rest with George Gallet and the Huguetan Brothers.

You can see the nail marks on next to each snake, where the design was attached to a wood block. Is this a copy of a copy? Found in Dionysii Petavii aurelianensis, e Societate Jesu, opus de theologicis dogmatibus, auctius in Hac nova editione… Theophili Alethini (NLA RBf 230 P477)

Some of the differences are slight, one bear is obviously completely different. Who was the first to make him? Was it Gymnici or was is Colin, or did they both get copies from some printer as yet unknown to me? Whose design is it? Questions, questions, questions. It is amazing that this bear has travelled so far and for so long relatively unchanged.

If you would like to take a closer view, please visit my Flickr album: tailpiece comparison. If anyone has a bear from another printer and another time, please let me know.

happy reading

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Bookstores in Buenos Aires

I started this blog post over a year ago I am ashamed to say. I couldn’t find it in me to finish it. So I have just turned it into a small photomontage of the bookstores that drew my attention.

A year ago……

My bookish journey has not gone so well this time around. The courses I am doing aren’t grabbing me. Neither have I been walking around the city all that much. However with the Feria del Libros looming, I’ve been taking photos of the multitude of bookstores and kioscos


A kiosco can sell anything from the paper to literature

IMG_2169IMG_2170This is the second hand book market near Plaza Italia, a bit like the book stores of the banks of the Seine in Paris.



One thing I can say about the Argentinians, is that they love their literature. There are second bookstores stashed all over the place. If they are small independent stores, they will specialise in a certain area: philosophy, sociology, maths or esoteric literature.


There are also small franchise type stores like Cuspide, who sell best sellers and cheap books, pretty much like Angus and Robertson in Australia.

IMG_2079This was the first secondhand bookstore I discovered in 2006, near Corrientes Ave.

My favourite though is Andre Casares.  I don’t have a picture, but this is an antiquarian bookstore, and well worth a visit.


And then there are places that are just schmick. The store above was closed on a Sunday, but if well worth a visit, and the one below, used to be a theatre, now converted into large bookstore, with cafe on stage.


IMG_2145The children’s section


At the Feria del Libros at La Rural  in PalermoIMG_2234

I was lucky to go to the professional days; so a lot less crowds.IMG_2241

Miniature books; lots of stands had themIMG_2250

IMG_2253Children’s book displays.

The stands were mostly innovative, but the layout was too big. You needed a segue to get around.


I went to the EARA stand, the Argentinian Bookbinding Guild to visit my friend Dina Amoli. She had taught me japanese bookbinding techniques during my last visitIMG_2266

The guild was very well represented with a range of booksIMG_2265


They do like simplified binding here.IMG_2263


And finally Moebius at a great little crafty arcade


If you can read spanish, are into books, then Buenos Aires is the place for you.

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