Founding Work of Brazilian Economy receives the Brazil -Memory of the World stamp

Published on thursday, january 7th, 2016.
obras raras, Revistas e Periódicos, BNDigital, memória do mundo
The book “Brazil Culture and Opulence”, published in 1711 by a Jesuit under the pen name André João Antonil, is the first printed work of the Brazilian National Library (BN) Rare Works heritage to win Unesco’s Brazil- Memory of the World Program register.


Exemplar da obra “Cultura e Opulência do Brasil”, de André João Antonil.
Exemplar da obra “Cultura e Opulência do Brasil”, de André João Antonil.

The application, submitted to the Memory of the World program’s National Committee for analysis in July of this year, was grounded in aspects related to the importance of the work and to the quality of BN heritage copy.

“It is difficult to get a printed publication register, as we compete with manuscripts and other documents which form unique copies”, explains Ana Virginia Pinheiro, leader of the Rare Works heritage. In the case of this book, she tells that there are only seven pieces known in the world, because right after its publication, in the beginning of the 18th Century, the edition was prohibited and the printing destroyed. That is why the Portuguese Crown considered inappropriate the strategic information spread about Brazil’s wealth, including data about the sugar mills, tobacco and cattle, as well as gold and silver mines location. “Only the copies which were donated before the prohibition were saved, and a few were preserved until today”, she says.

The piece contained in BN archive is a vault item, which was microfilmed and digitized in order to facilitate users ‘consultation. The original entered the heritage in 1911, and its origin, which can be safely traced, was documented in the registration request forwarded to Unesco committee. After belonging to a number of collectors that negotiated or donated it, the piece ended up being incorporated to José Carlos Rodrigues’s library, which was acquired by Julio Benedicto Ottoni and donated to BN.

The justification presented to the Memory of the World program’s committee, includes also, opinions of four experts about the piece: the bibliophile Hariberto de Miranda Jordão FIlho, Pedro Puntoni USP researcher, Raimundo Agnelo Soares Pessoa professor of Goias Federal University, and the retired professor of Sorbonne University Andrée Mansuy-Diniz Silva, the world’s leading authority in Antonil’s work. BN copy is considered a “cimélio”(an extremely rare piece).

About the work

“Brazil Culture and Opulence”, by André João Antonil, pseudonym of the Italian Jesuit João Antônio Andreoni, was published in 1711, being collected by D. João V’ order for being considered inconvenient for the Portuguese Crown. The book gathers, in four parts, information about the main economic activities of the colony (sugar mill, tobacco, mining and livestock) therefore, is considered the founder work of the Brazilian economy study. Furthermore, it is a detailed picture of the habits and traditions of the population at the time, counting on a recommendation of the author about the enslaved people’s treatment: the sugar mill owners should adopt what became known as the “three Ps policy” (bread, cloth and stick). The content of the book allows studies about slavery, family relationships, gender issues and many other themes related to Brazil Colony life.

About Brazil - Memory of the world program

Unesco created the Memory of the World Program in 1992, in order to increase awareness about the importance of preserving and giving access to the documental patrimony of humanity. The registration for integrating the program can be granted in national, regional or international level. Annually, the committee composed by notable within their respective competent areas, select up to ten pieces in order to compose the heritage of works inscribed in the program.

More information about UNESCO program


Exemplar da obra “Cultura e Opulência do Brasil”, de André João Antonil.
Exemplar da obra “Cultura e Opulência do Brasil”, de André João Antonil.