Prepared by Pedro Grases, this is an illustrated sampler of some forty-three imprints from Angostura (present-day Ciudad Bolívar) dating from 1817 to 1822. Issued to mark the sesquicentennial of the Angostura Congress (1819), the volume is a typographical tour de force of contemporary Venezuelan printing. And it is fitting that it should be, for the small printing press set up during October 1817 in the torrid river town of Angostura published some of the most crucial documents of Venezuela’s independence struggle. Andrés Roderick (ca. 1795-1864) who accompanied the press from Trinidad, served as government printer in Angostura from early October 1817 to the end of 1820. His successors, other Anglo-Colombians, continued to produce government publications until 1822, when the shift of political gravity to Caracas brought an end to its official functions. The press itself remained in use in the sweltering capital of Guayana Province until the end of the century, finally being moved to Caracas, where it may be seen today in the Museo Bolivariano.
Aside from its most famous offspring, the Correo del Orinoco (1818-1822), Angostura’s little printing establishment also produced a variety of official forms, government stationery, decrees, pamphlets, broadsides, and handbills, including some in English. As the compiler of this volume asserts, Angostura imprints are extremely rare. Their rarity is underscored by Grases’ careful location of the pieces he describes, in several public and private collections in Venezuela, Colombia, and Great Britain, many of them unique copies. He precedes his imprints with a bibliographical essay.
In conclusion, this handsome book is a minor but solid contribution to the history of Venezuelan printing, and Pedro Grases once again merits the plaudits of Venezuelanists.