Saturday, 26 September 2009

Don Antolín Palomino Olalla centenary.


This September we celebrate the centenary of the birth of the great bookbinder

Don Antolín Palomino Olalla.

He was one of the best bookbinders of our most recent past,
it will be enough with one of his works to be able to appreciate his virtuosity.

Book of hours or "Missale"

I met Don Antolín in his last years, which he spent in the security of his flaming workshop in the Handmade Printing of the Town hall of Madrid.

In a visit to him he presented to me his autobiography with a dedication that I have
recorded in my brain for more than twenty years,
hoping that some day should be fulfilled.

"To Antonio Vélez, great lover of the book and of the bookbinding, that with his firmness will become a great master. With affection of his good friend… Antolín Palomino"

The master enjoyed showing his irons and his works to anyone who asked for it.

Don Antolín enjoyed.
Enjoyed his work and enjoyed life.
He did not stop doing it for one moment.

I have preferred to include here this caricature rather than any photo,
because it is a portrait of his soul more faithful than any camera might take.

His cigarets, his works
and his satisfaction for living,
for living as a bookbinder.…
or simply for breathing.


Don Antolín painted papers.
Double reason to celebrate.
But, curious thing, he did not like exhibiting him in the making.
He hid himself behind a door that was carefully closed
and worked almost in darkness without allowing anybody to discover his secret.

Platero and Me

He painted paste papers.
According to what dictated to him his heart...
or the angels
as was believed by another great bookbinder, Don Emilio Brugalla, his friend.


¡Wow! A great bookbinder, one of the best, being a painter.
He could not do any more than art works,
without remedy,
his expert hand would not consent any less.


They say that Don Antolín was presenting his papers,
that he was presenting them without hesitation,
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

I cannot even realize how finished the request of one of
the more well-known international collectors, Tatiana Schmoller,
who wrote to him !in spanish! on February 24, 1973:

"Distinguido señor: soy coleccionista de papeles y estoy admirada de uno suyo.
(...) Espero su envío y Ud. pone el precio que quiera.

Salúdale con mucho agradecimiento...
Tatiana Schmoller"

"Distinguished Sir: I am a paper collector and I admire one of yours. (...) I wait for your mailing and you put the price that you want. I greet you with very much gratitude. Tatiana Schmoller"


When I read the titles with which he baptized them
I know that Don Antolín was very proud of them,
that they were a very special present which he was giving to his most close friends.


Contemplate them carefully.
Am I right or not?

The scholars to the violet

Each one is a work of art.

Valencian garden

Sea froth

The jungle’s book

The Greco


Lands of Castile


He was painting also marbled papers,
in his book “My painted papers”
he calls them “under the water”,
and although he does not describe his technique
he attributes to himself a special procedure that only he knows …

another one of his jokes.


A wonder of binding,
an artist of decorated papers and…
a great pleasure seeker.

All this was Don Antolín. And he continues being.
Because if life is a dream, how does not be death a dream?
The person who is remembered is still alive.
This centenary of the birth of Don Antolín
it’s a good occasion to know more of his work
and of his personality full of joviality and delight.

And to be with him another moment and to drink for life.
This way he will always continue with us.

¡To your health, master!


His books:
-Autobiografía, conocimientos y recuerdos sobre el arte de la encuadernación. Madrid,1986, Imprenta Artesanal del Ayuntamiento de Madrid.
- Mis papeles pintados. Madrid, 1990, Artes Gráficas Municipales.

To know more:
Aitor Quinney: Antolín Palomino Olalla, en el centenario de su nacimiento. Una semblanza biográfica al desuso. Encuadernación de Arte, Núm. 33, Madrid, 2009, AFEDA.

All the images proceed from the
Town hall of Madrid. Government Area of The Arts. Handmade printing.

The Missale, the dedication and the caricature belong to the book "Autobiography..." just as the letter of Mrs. Schmoller; the papers to "My painted papers"; and the photos of the irons belong to the records of the Handmade Printing, that conserve complete the collection of the master.
My gratitude to the Town hall of Madrid for giving permission for the publication on this page.


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