Almost three decades ago, in 1981, Ricardo Ollaquindia's book "100 años de carteles de las Fiestas y Ferias de San Fermín" (A 100 years of San Fermin Fiesta and Fair posters) was published. It immediately became, particularly in Pamplona itself, a classic publication on the city's festive posters, a means of publicity which has always been of interest to Art history lovers, bullfighting fans, collectors and those simply interested in local events. The subtitle defined the time scale of the book's contents: 1882-1981. This carefully-written monograph, published by Caja de Ahorros de Navarra, was possible thanks to Pamplona City Council freely providing its collection of San Fermin posters, kept in and managed by the Municipal Archive.
The origins of these posters dates back to the XIX century: at first, in the first half of the century, they were simple leaflets in one colour, mere informative texts, some of which bore suitable illustrations. At a later date, larger-scale, full-colour, pictorial banners were considered, as occurred in 1877. In 1898, the fiesta poster was used for the first time for the cover of the handheld programme. It had not always been as such, there being times when two images, different in terms of motifs and subject matter, were used. And if we take into account that posters from every year have not been preserved and that publications on the subject have resorted to the use of substitutes when the poster could not be found -preferably falling back on the relevant programme-, then we must be very careful not to take what indeed was not a poster as such.
The collection of posters managed by the Municipal Archive has a copy of every poster used since 1882, except those from 1884, 1886, 1887, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1896, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1917, 1918 and 1922. Up to 1923, they are conserved in print form, the practice of the time requiring that lithographic companies presented the Council with models already designed by artists in their pay, mixing relatively typical bullfighting subject matter, valid for all Spanish customers, with appropriate local scenes from Pamplona, such as the Monument to the Fueros, the old bullring, the arrival of electricity or a representation of Pablo Sarasate... For a few years following 1888, designs from the lithographic companies Portabella, from Zaragoza, and Ortega, from Valencia, predominated. Since 1924, the original paintings used to print the posters on paper have been conserved. The photographs used to make the photolithographs for the years 1964-1972 and 1976-1981 have not, however, been kept.
As for the artists and without mentioning the most recent ones, the posters boast a fine cast of names of regional and national artistic prestige, such as Salvi, Unceta, Penagos, Bartolozzi, Mongrell, Cañas, Istúriz, Pueyo, Tejedor, Ciga, León Astruc, Zubiri, Briñol, Basiano, Lizarraga, Muro, Elvira, Urzanki, Crispín and Lozano de Sotés. Javier Ciga holds the record for the number of posters with six original paintings dealing with truly local subject matter for the years 1908, 1909, 1910, 1917, 1918 and 1920.
Jose Luis, Municipal Archivist
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