Wandering in Porto last spring, I came across this antiquarian bookshop, Livraria Moreira da Costa. As the sign says, it was founded in 1902.
I can’t resist any kind of bookshop, but especially not a secondhand one, and certainly not an antiquarian one. As I discovered on closer inspection of the shop window, Moreira da Costa is in fact the last-named kind of bookshop.
The current owner is Miguel Carneiro. He’s the fifth generation of his family to run the shop. He was only too happy to take me downstairs to the store room to have a look around.
Senhor Miguel is currently working on creating a digital catalogue of his stock — no small task since there are thousands of books in half a dozen languages, some of them fragile. He’s about halfway through, he reckons.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with the Versailles Century. Quite a lot, actually. Senhor Miguel’s inventory includes a lot of books from our target period of 1682-1789. As a single example, I will mention a 1787 copy of Bossuet’s collected sermons in the original French. In fact, Senhor Miguel estimates that there may be over a thousand French books among his stock, a consequence of the fact that nearly all educated Portuguese read and wrote French in preference to English until a generation or two ago. That said, there are many English books in the inventory, too.
If any book lovers out there are thinking of visiting Porto, I highly recommend Livraria Moreira da Costa. Even if you don’t read Portuguese, you’ll find plenty to interest you. You can find the shop at 30, Rua de Avis, in Porto. You can consult the website, with its catalogue searchable in Portuguese, Latin, French, and English, here: http://www.livrariamoreiradacosta.com.
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