A door into a past art. Bookbinding in Lisbon.

15689300088_0f200d4ab6_zSpent a couple of days in Lisbon. Not long enough. Spent one day walking from Praca De Alegria to the harbour. Having found my way into Bairro Alto, I enjoyed looking down the streets, taking pictures of wall tiles and graffiti. There was an open door. I looked in and a middle-aged man was standing at a worktable, looking down at something smoking.

I stopped and looked. Asked if I could come in and look. He beckoned me in and showed me around his little workplace. There were letter blocks neatly arranged in rows on the table. He had been putting the gold onto the gold lettering on the back of a red leather bound book.

I had found Carlos Guerreiro. A bookbinder. he was binding books for a French man. He had a whole stack of them. One of them was a history of the Orders of France from 1820 with beautiful coloured drawings. It got special treatment. Not only bound, but also laid in a leatherbound box. There was gold embossing not only on the spine of the book and the box, but the front and back – as well as the insides of the coves.

Carlos showed me a collection of menu cards, wine list and receipt holders he had made for restaurants and bars. The different types of cloth that could be used instead of leather. Made by a British company.

We quickly changed from English to speaking in French. Only needed a dictionary once. When I needed the word for Danish. Reminds me of the fact, that even if you yourself speak good English. It doesn’t help you speak with those that don’t speak English that well. Why learning just one foreign language – however well is not enough.

The workplace and meeting Carlos reminded me of the leather bag store in Marseille that I found by coincidence a bit like finding Carlos’ store many years ago. The bags were made by a lady, who is trained as a bookbinder. But now makes wonderful bags. And explained to me that leather can be treated just like skin. So a leather bag or a jacket can be given body lotion or Nivea cream to give it shine and keep it subtle.

The little workplace was packed tightly with things. Mostly books and tools. Nearly all that could bet a gold embossed leathercover, had gotten it. Including the box for the electric meter. I felt I had already taken a lot of Carlos’ time. So after his lovely wife came out and said hello. I said goodbye.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures but fortunately the person behind: arqueolojista.com did. So go there and be enchanted just like me.

But better still. Go to Lisbon and visit. And best of all. Get some books bound by Carlos. Or have some menu cards made.

Rua de São Boaventura, 4 -6
1200-409 Lisboa (Bairro Alto)
(Next to Hospital S. Luis)



You can read about Carlos in an article in Publico along this blog post from May 2006 tells me.


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