Libreria Cervantes: Ricardo Veloso's Havana bookstore

The two ornately designed bank drafts below, with what appears to be revenue stamps, were drawn on the account of a prominent Cuban bookseller, Ricardo Veloso, in Havana in 1920 and 1921. Each paper is approximately 5 X 9.5 inches (12.5 X 24 cm).



From the book, Havana Deco, by Alejandro G. Alonso, Pedro Contreras, and Martino Fagiuoli (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007), I gleaned a few facts about Veloso and his Libreria Cervantes.

Ricardo Veloso's full name was Ricardo Veloso Guerra and he founded Libreria Cervantes in 1910. Eventually boasting the largest inventory of books in Havana, Libreria Cervantes also distinguished itself as the first bookstore in the city to sell books on credit. Veloso (Guerra is dropped in most references) also edited and published books for Cervantes. In 1926, Veloso merged his company with Cultural S.A. and they expanded their business in Cuba as well as abroad. In the process, they assumed a prominent role in Havana's literary and cultural circles.

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