A treasure hunt in the small town of Salisbury, Maryland led to an amazing historic discovery - a 19th century manuscript, owned and likely written by renowned author, naturalist, and pharmacist, Pedro Antonio Ventallo, from Tarrasa, Spain.
The 19th century ranges from 1800-1900.
Before listing the book for sale on the market, I conducted research to provide collector's with sufficient information in regards to the details of this book.
This is an account of my findings.
The box shown in these photos has accompanied the book since I first discovered it at a flea market in 2014.
It is not an original box and is not indicative to the time period from which this book came.
The spine text reads, "Yearbook of Agriculture 1928 STRI Smithsonian Libraries".
Inside the box shows "Smithsonian Libraries" insignia.
The book fits snugly inside the box for protection.
The cover of this book is made of vellum - a leather like parchment made of animal skin.
It is thick and sturdy and shows signs of delicate use, appropriate to it's age.
The spine reads, "OHISI CA" in handwriting.
There are rope fasteners threaded through the meat of the cover, but they do not attach to closures. They simply drape gracefully down the side of the pages.
The Embossed Stamp
Inside the very first page of the book, is an embossed stamp that reads "PEDRO A. VENTALLO TARRASA".
Pedro Antonio Ventallo was a recognized Spanish pharmacist and author that lived from 1847-1913.
He is the author of the famous text titled "La Repoblación forestal y el Eucalipto en ella". TRANSLATES TO: Afforestation and Eucalyptus in it.
Was Ventallo the Author?
I believe that Pedro A. Ventallo was the owner and author of this book. These are accounts of his research.
This book was likely a part of Ventallo's collection. The embossed stamp inside is evidence of ownership.
Tarrasa is a city in the east central region of Catalonia, in the province of Barcelona, Spain.
Pedro Antonio Ventallo lived his life and died in Tarrasa, Spain. This embossed stamp signifies his location at the time the book was collected.
There is no other known author noted inside the book. His embossed stamp is the only indication noting who it ever may have belonged to.
The Table of Contents
The table of contents is our first bright visual of the authors handwriting, and language of choice which is none other than Latin!
Latin has a long history in ancient and modern language. I believe this manuscript has a place that falls somewhere between Renaissance and New Latin.
There are several indications pointing towards this book being a mathematical/science textbook.
It could very well be a copy of a borrowed school book, or a even journal of the original authors findings.
I find it unique that the table of contents seems to appear younger than the interior of the book.
Keep reading to take a peek inside the book!
The Title Page
"PHILOSO PHIA NATURALIS, PHYSIOLOGICA INSCRIPTA, ADNOR MAM Veterum Recentioruma Philosophorum elabora ta PROLEGOMENA IN Phsicam." reads the title page.
Woah! What a mouthful! I don't read Latin, but here's a few words I was able to pick out and translate.
Direct English translations in order as they appear:
- Swim Form
- Recentioruma????? (stumped on this one!)
- A formal essay or critical discussion serving to introduce and interpret an extended work
There is a superbly unique hand drawn illustration at the bottom of the title page. It reveals a variety of characters including two faces that appear to be projecting from the inside of a book.
They present angel wings and are surrounding a central heart, with an arrow piercing straight through the middle.
There is a hovering object above the cherubs, and they are placed upon what seems to be a renaissance style mantle, or top piece of furniture.
Inside the Book
There is an obvious scent of iron gall ink present within the pages of the book.
Photo: Scribalworkshop on Etsy
Iron gall ink has been used since the 5th century, well into the 19th century, and can still be purchased for use today.
Several pages towards the middle of the book have suffered from deterioration due to the heavy presence of iron gall ink.
There is bleeding ink present throughout the pages of the book.
There are symbolic illustrations weaved into the context and along side of pages.
There are charts...
...and geometry references.
One of the most amazing features is the fold out parchment paper in the center of the book.
We can see globes with certain continents and oceans included. America is shown on the first map to the left, signifying this book was written after the introduction of America to Western Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
We also see an armillary sphere - "A model of objects in the sky (in the celestial sphere), consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic. As such, it differs from a celestial globe, which is a smooth sphere whose principal purpose is to map the constellations." - an excerpt from BellerByandCo.
There are a handful of pages (5) cut carefully from inside the book (likely as an edit), and the handwriting seems to significantly change part way through the book.
The language shifts from Latin to Spanish partway through the book as well.
Several pages show "problems" and "declarations" regarding his research.
The Back of the Book
The back of the books shows signs of wear. It's spine has come unglued from the binded pages.
Despite the separation, the book binding itself is in excellent condition. The separation of the cover from the binding shows us the intricate detail of the hand stitched pages.
There is a pencil mark written inside the back page of the book that reads, "5000-", possibly signifying this book was for sale or purchased at least once before. I am not able to conclude which currency the dash (-) could be referencing.
This book is a true rare segment of history.
My research indicates it is a one-of-a-kind, hand written account of the famous author Pedro Antonio Ventallo, from Tarrasa, Spain.
I welcome any and all comments or questions regarding the book.
Please comment below.
Take care, as always! - Hallie ❤️️
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclaimer for more info.