A radical press from Coimbra

On a recent trip to Portugal, I came across an interesting early iron press, housed in the University of Coimbra, just beside the former University prison in the bowels of the old building. This press was made in Coimbra for the University Press in the early 19th century by Manoel Bernardes Galinha, a metalworker and printer based in the Rua da Sophia. It was a turbulent period in Portuguese history, following the expulsion of the Napoleonic army by the British and the flight of the monarchy to Brazil. Galinha may have used this press to print his oppositional journal, the Conimbricense. During the liberal revolution of 1820, which sought to transform Portugal into a constitutional monarchy, the Junta de Porto commandeered the press. Through the horrors of the siege of Porto by the Absolutists, the liberal Junta used it to print the orders of the day and the official bulletins to boost the morale of the people. It was subsequently returned to the University of Coimbra, where it rests to this day in a slightly forlorn state.