I confess I hadn’t heard of Guatemala’s Libros San Cristobal before stumbling across their website this evening — but I’m glad I did and am pleased to pass on this brief notice to you. (Note: much of the press’s background and their complete list of books is in a pdf oddly linked off from their main page, which is why I’ve quoted at length here.)
“Libros San Cristobal is a fine art book press located near the old capital of Central America, La Antigua Guatemala.It has been publishing fine books on Mesoamerican topics since 1989. All the works of book art are editions under 200, letterset printed with movable type, hand-bound volumes using the finest quality papers and leathers, often hand-illuminated and published in Spanish and English and/or Kaqchikel.
For the past 20 years, the press has preserved traditional book arts, expanded and extended the art form by bringing in North American and European traditions of bookmaking, as well as restoring fine books and producing papers from native plants and trees.
Locating the press in the highlands of Guatemala was a conscious choice based on the following factors: the ancient Maya literary, codex and papermaking traditions, gifted craftsmen, availability of amate (native fig bark for paper), regional tanneries for various skins and leathers, marvelous weavers for book covers, ancient American and Spanish colonial history, art and architecture, the ability to collaborate with modern indigenous artisans. Libros San Cristobal proves that the very highest quality fine books can be made wherever attention to detail, experience and passion for the craft is nurtured.”
Their latest book is The Village Church Facades of Santiago de Guatemala:1524-1773 (2010). (Shown above.) From the prospectus: “This historic, oversized sheepskin parchment case includes 22 unbound architectural engravings of sixteenth century village churches surrounding the Spanish colonial capital of Central America and a letter set printed book with 22 silver gelatin photographs. It was published by Libros San Cristobal in 2010. All engravings are illuminated with gouache by painter Grove Oholendt. The accompanying softcover book is written by writer and observer Catherine Docter, foreword by Christopher H. Lutz and W. George Lovell and is in Spanish and English. The 22 silver gelatin prints were photographed and printed by photographer Daniel Chauche. Two additional photographs are by John Edward Heaton and Mitchell Denburg. It is printed on fine papers and covered in handwoven petate paper weavings; it is finished with woodblock endpapers by artist Guillermo Maldonado.The clamshell case has bone closures and all titling is handstamped with 22 carat gold. Edition of 200.”
See images and read more about this press here.
— Paul Razzell