8°: Collation Complete – , vi, IX, 362 pp. (Complex collation with numerous inserted charts (most folding) labelled A-P included in the pagination), bound in later 19th century full calf with gilt tooling and red title label to spine (Very Good, small restored loss to blank upper-right corner of title, some staining to outer corners of first 10 and last dozen leaves, else clean and crisp; light shelf-wear to binding).
This in a fine example of the very rare first almanac for Goa and Portuguese India, published in late 1839 in Bombay by the Typographia Portugueza no Pregoeiro, a special Portuguese language press run by the Goan printer Pedro Paulo de Souza. A pioneering work, it remained the only Goa almanac for the next generation and features a tremendous wealth of information on Portuguese India that far exceeds that provided in any other publication of tis era, making it an indispensable academic resource.
The Almanak contains all the content that you could ever expect from an almanac, including a calendar with all events of significance; a perpetual almanac; a table of travel distances; histories of Goa and India; global statistics; Christian, Hindu and Muslim festivals; comprehensive and recent official statistics on Goa in all fields; travel itineraries from Goa to Lisbon via Egypt; the text of important recent Goan government edicts; detailed information on the Portuguese royal family and state and colonial officials; data on other Portuguese colonies; information on the Goan state press, the Imprensa Nacional; detailed overviews of the civil, ecclesiastical, financial, judicial, army, naval, educational, and health establishments of Goa; the diplomatic corps; overseas Portuguese Catholic missions; plus many other topics far too numerous to list here. The work is embellished by numerous statistical tables, many of which are folding and feature critical information difficult to find anywhere else; the Almanak has often been cited in scholarly literature.
The Almanak captures Goa at an especially interesting period in is history. Goa enjoyed considerable prosperity in the wake of the enlightened economic and political reforms instituted on the orders of the Portuguese prime minister Marquis de Pombal during the 1770s. However, the Napoleonic Wars severed Goa’s ties with the mother country and other Portuguese colonies, while the enclave fell under, albeit benevolent, British occupation. After the wars, political instability persisted, resulting in the 1821 Goa Revolution, whereby members the colonial council overthrew the royal governor, henceforth ruling as junta. Royal authority in the formal sense was not fully restored until 1829. The 1830s marked a period of economic reform and progress which led to the relocation of the colonial capital from Velha-Goa (founded in 1510) to Nova-Goa (today Panjim) in 1843, located on a site considered both more healthful and better positioned for maritime trade. These reforms set the stage for a protracted period of prosperity and stability which lasted for the remainder of the century.
The author of the Almanak, Father Caetano João Peres (1806 – 1860), was native of Margão, Goa. He rose rapidly in Portuguese India’s Church establishment, becoming the canon of the colony’s main cathedral, the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina in Velha-Goa, as well as the administrator of the Santo Domingo Monastery. The Almanak was Peres’s only major publication.
It is perhaps no surprise that the present tome was not only the first almanac of Goa to be created, but also the only work of its kind to be published for many years. The creation of proper almanacs, such as the present work, was astoundingly labour intensive and required the expertise of an individual, like Father Peres, who was a highly skilled editor with special access to official information. The publication and distribution of such works was prohibitively expensive, especially as only a small percentage of the population was both sufficiently literate in the Portuguese language and could afford the purchase price of 3 silver rupees. Indeed, Peres would have relied on generous subsidies form the Church and the crown to offset the costs. While the author and his sponsors may have been happy to create this valuable work on a one-off basis, it was perhaps beyond their abilities to follow up with annual sequels. This was commonly the case for colonial almanacs and guide books, whichj were often published only sporadically.
It was not for another generation the next almanac for Goa was created, being A.M. de Souza’s Almanaque de Goa (Nova-Goa: Typographia Ultramar), issued annually from 1864 to 1873. Subsequently, Goa almanacs were issued by the state press, the Imprensa Nacional, although it is not clear if they were issued annually without interruption. All 19th Century Gaon almanacs are very rare and some issues that were known to have been printed are no longer thought to survive in even a single example. Indeed, the tropical climate of Southern India is especially unkind to books, and it seems that only examples that made it to Europe had decent chance of survival.
Publishing in Goa; Goan Publishing in Bombay
There were very good reasons why the present work was published in Bombay. This was even though Goa had an illustrious publishing history. Indeed, it was the first place in South Asia to host a Western-style printing press, with the first work published in 1556. Printing continued in Portuguese, Latin and Indian languages in Goa until 1684, when a more conservative regime essentially banned printing throughout Portuguese India. Publishing was revived in 1821, when after a palace coup overthrew the royal governor, the ruling junta established a state press that printed official organs, such as the weekly Gazeta de Goa, later known as the Chronista Constitucional de Goa (1835) and subsequently, the Boletim de Governo do Estado da India (1837). The state press formed the basis of the Imprensa Nacional which relocated to Nova-Goa. During the first generation of the state press’s operations it was capable of printing modest publications, such as newspapers, broadsides and small pamphlets, although sizable books, such as the present almanac, were beyond its capabilities. It was only in the 1850s that it graduated to being able to create works of numerous quires, illustrated with graphics.
Meanwhile, Goan emigres were heavily involved in the thriving drafting and publishing industry in Bombay. Indeed, the city’s EIC authorities tended to welcome Goans, who were both from an allied state, Portugal, and were fellow Christians. Notably, around 1838, Pedro Paulo de Souza founded the Typographia Portugueza no Pregoeiro, a house that specialized in Portuguese-language publications. That establishment was capable of printing sizable, relatively complex books, such as the present almanac, at a reasonable cost. Moreover, the Imprensa Nacional, which retained a monopoly on printing in Goa for some years, enforced a heavy code of censorship. Goans who wished to publish political or liberal tracts that could in any way be interpreted as being critical of the Portuguese authorities headed to Bombay, where the EIC regime exercised virtually no censorship of Portuguese language publications. Throughout the remainder of the 19th Century, many of the most important and controversial Goan works were printed in Bombay.
A Note on Rarity
The present work is very rare. While it is difficult to discern the difference between listings of original hard copies and digital facsimiles in online databases, we have only been able to trace 4 institutional examples, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Yale University; the Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht; and the Universitätsbibliothek München. Surprisingly, there does not even seem to be an example at the Biblioteca nacional de Portugal.
References: OCLC: 72773202; Yale University Library: MT21.6 P415a; Universitätsbibliothek München: 0001/8 Kunstm. 420; Annaes maritimos e coloniaes, no. 7 (Nova-Goa: Imprensa Nacional, 1843), p. 316; Miguel Vicente d’Abreu, Bosquejo historico de Goa, vertido em portuguez (Nova-Goa: Imprensa Nacional, 1858), p. 26; Claudio Lagrange Monteiro de Barbuda, Huma viagem de duas mil legoas (Nova-Goa: Imprensa Nacional, 1848), p. 136; Jean-Philippe Luis (ed.), L’État dans ses colonies: Les administrateurs de l’empire espagnol au XIXe siècle (Madrid, 2015), p. 265; Joana Passos, ‘A ambivalência de Goa como imagem do império português e as representações da sociedade colonial na literatura luso-indiana “de recreio”’, Debates contemporâneos: Jovens cientistas sociais, no CES, no. 1 (2008), [ pp. 37-56], p. 42