curious...", said Senhor Mário Barbeito de Vasconcelos,
one of the world's greatest collectors of materials
on Columbus. He was sitting in his private library,
surrounded by 18,000 volumes pertaining to
Madeira, Columbus, and a vast array of cultural subjects,
many in English and German, some in Japanese or even
In his residence on Conde de Carvalhal, which he designed
and built in the 30's to house his collections, and
where he spends all of his leisure hours, Sr. Barbeito
took out some time to be interviewed before leaving
on a book-searching tour of Paris and London. He said,
"My collections are enough to entertain me for a lifetime".
At an early age, Senhor Barbeito was a voracious reader
in a variety of languages, and today is comfortable
speaking in either English, German or Spanish. "I
read every book in the public library before I was
"I regularly read Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's
Almanac and I feel like I've actually met ol'
Mr. Barbeito reflected on his 47-year siege of collecting
books and materials dating back to the 15th century,
including some of the first references to Columbus's
voyages - Mr. Barbeito's legacy to future generations.
"If I am perfect today, I will have the next day well
organised... today and tomorrow are the most important",
he added, a seasoned collector of the past.
Recalling a 1945 voyage of 25 days to Brazil with
a travelling companion, the writer and philosopher
Fidelino de Figueiredo, "If I could return
to my youth, I would repeat everything the same way".
Even at 72, Senhor Barbeito deeply feels the same
On a lighter note, a delightful memory passed through
his mind, "I recall Bernard Shaw teaching me
the latest dance craze of the 20's at the Reid's Hotel,
but one of my cherished experiences was the visit
to my home in 1972 of Christopher Columbus,
the direct descendent of his venerable ancestor of
the same name".
and interview courtesy of Don Glen Sandy
in his book "Madeira Wine at Home")