Havana: Book Store Obispo, 1899. 96pp., plus two folding maps and fourteen leaves of advertisements. Oblong 12mo. Original cloth wrappers, gilt lettered. Wraps fading at edges, with some light wear; spine ends chipped. Text block and maps detached. Some separations along map folds, with several verso tape repairs. Light tanning. Good. Item #1205
A fascinating and extremely rare bilingual guide to Havana. The book was produced by a Havana book shop after the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, likely in an attempt to take advantage of an increase in Anglophone tourism with the United States having taken possession of Cuba for a brief period. The author, clearly not a practiced speaker of English, does his level best to translate his Spanish text, but often succumbs to awkward phrasings and improper usage; it is nevertheless an entirely readable effort.
The first section focuses on travel to and within Cuba, and is quite thorough, particularly in its discussion of rail service and omnibus routes. A second shorter section lays out options for hotel and dining arrangements. The final part comprises a narrative description of the sights in Havana and nearby areas. After a second title-page, the sections repeat in Spanish, with a short appendix at the rear in English that discusses road routes from Havana to other parts of Cuba. Also included are numerous illustrated advertisements for hotels, products, and services, and two attractive folding maps, partially printed in color, one of Havana and one of the entire island.
Quite rare, we locate only two copies, at the Library of Congress and the National Library of Cuba. A very interesting, locally produced guide for Havana and Cuba at the end of the 19th century, just after the Spanish-American War.