Luis Giménez Lorente was born in Valencia on 20th January 1920, or as he liked to say he arrived at the world “in the twenty first days of the twenty first years of the twenty first centuries”. His childhood passes in the familiar house of the street En Bou of Valencia right in the centre of the map of the city. In the school of the Jesuit Fathers and later in the Liceo Mayans he attends his studies of Higher Certificate. After the end of the Civil War, in 1939, he begins the career in Pharmacy. Months later his father dies and this fact, next to his condition of elder brother, forces him to move to Campillo de Altobuey (Cuenca) to administer the familiar farm. During these years he continues studying on his own and taking his exams in Granada and Barcelona, where he obtains the degree in 1947.
In November of the same year he begins his professional career and he opens up a Pharmacy in Valencia, at 12th Navarro Reverter Avenue (Llano del Remedio), which in 1967 moves to 3rd Marques of Estella Square, (nowadays Porta de la Mar Square) In March 1951 he marries Juliana Solís Prior who remained his wife for the rest of his life. The following year he attends the first course in Spain about Manipulation of Radioisotopes in Medicine, organized by the Chair of Therapeutic Radiology of the San Carlos Faculty of Medicine in Madrid. Very interested on this subject, he travels a year later to Holland in order to know the Philips Roxane Cyclotron and to acquire the detectors and other material necessary to open up in Valencia a diagnosis centre.
In 1954, associated and directed by doctor Severino Perez Modrego, it opens up in Valencia the second cabinet of diagnosis with radioisotopes Phosphorus-32 and Iodine-131 in Spain. In 1956 he joins the “Pharmaceutical Society of the Latin Mediterranean”, being named six years later vice-president of the Latin Mediterranean”, Spanish group and later member of the International Committee, positions that entail the attendance to numerous national and international meetings and that holds until his retirement in 1988. In 1957 he finalizes the Doctorate Courses in Barcelona, initiating with doctors Villar Palasí, Miravilles and Gastón de Iriarte the studies for the elaboration of his doctoral thesis on the hydroponics culture of the saffron that he could not conclude because of flood that happened in Valencia that same year that made unusable his laboratory and ended all the already carried out works. Almost half a century later, an interview published in the book of Perez Puche “Up to here the flood arrived” he will remember his first pharmacy and this event.
Luis Giménez Lorente had his pharmacy in 12th Navarro Reverter, where soon a new house would be built and where in the course of time the restaurant La Hacienda was based. He was 37 years old and since 1947 he had been the owner of a profitable, large and centric pharmacy and where it even fitted a pleasant social gathering (.........) and there was also space to try with some saffron hydroponics bulb cultures, that were the subject on which the doctoral thesis that he was preparing was going to deal.
“Every day I controlled the growth of my little plants and I gave them their ration of trace elements until the flood came and everything fell through”
In 1960 he obtains the Ophthalmic Optics and Audiometry Degree from the University of Madrid. His dedication to the pharmacy does not prevent him to make other many things and to be fully interested in different subjects. To see the world was his desire, to understand the world, his fantasy. In the chemist back room his first social gatherings took form and later would move to the study of Navarro Reverter. Writers, painters, university professors, doctors, historians will attend there. During years Luis Giménez will gather around a good wine, every week, an interesting group of intellectuals to speak, to discourse, to reflect..... on policy, culture, religion and, of course, to comment something on cartography. All those who frequented these meetings certainly learned something whether they wanted to or not; something more about geography and old maps.
Also other motivations are important for him and occupy his time; the family, his pack of friends… the Valencian Association of Charity. Firm belief that we all must try to make our surroundings better to be able to change in this way the world takes him to take part actively with this historical organization. As a member of its Council since 1984 and vice-president since 1988 to 1995, one of its capital satisfactions was to be able to start up the Department of Social Attendance. A project that, together with his good friend the Brother Jesuit Bonet, will coordinate and in what he will be implied week after week during years.
The interest of Giménez Lorente on the cartography awoke in 1956 of the hand of the doctor and profession colleague Luis Alemany Vich who gives him a small map of Tomás López Vargas Machuca and he initiates him in the study of maps and the collecting. Almost 50 years later he remembered that revelation with the historical cartography in a conference held in Castellón where he affirmed: “Stevenson, the author of the “Island of the Treasure” said that he couldn't understand how somebody can remain impassive contemplating an old map. I thought something similar when Doctor Luis Alemany, historian, booklover and collector gave me a small map and influenced me with the passion for that wonderful world. With the directions that my friend dictated to me I began to acquire and to collect old maps of the kingdom of Valencia”.
Although at the beginning he was self-taught, the admission in the Spanish Society of Cartography and IMCOS (International Society of Collectors of Maps), and later, the participation in symposia and congresses allowed him to know and to be related to personalities of the stature of Angel Paladini, then Headmaster of the Cartography Library of the Army, Carmen Líter of the National Library, Montserrat Galera of the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya and university professors like Agustín Hernando or Jose Maria Sanz (already passed away), who would become friends, informers not only of its cartographic but also life interests.
During years Giménez Lorente dedicates his effort to the searching, acquisition, cataloguing and study of Valencian maps of sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Trips to Italy, England and France are frequent. There he visits bookstores, antique shops, flea markets… in the search of works for his collection. “There is nothing more pleasant to find that a map that you do not know between a pile of papers and to be able to identify it”. He achieves to reunite up to thirty original plat maps of dates between 1584 and 1797. Works that under the denomination of “Valencia Collection” constitute today an important part of his collections. With the aim of presenting them he publishes a folder integrated by the reproduction of ten original maps of the Kingdom of Valencia in 1984 illuminated by hand and accompanied by a research of them. In 1987 he also publishes an impeccable reproduction of a 1696 Giacomo Cantelli map of the Kingdom of Valencia. The visit to the library of the Fundación Bartolomé March during a trip to Palma de Mallorca makes him be interested in navigation charts: “I had occasion to study and contemplate the magnificent collection of portulan charts, especially of the Majorcan school, that is preserved there. The beauty of those works excited me and from that one moment I put myself to study and to collect facsimiles and books related to this type of cartography”. His works concentrated in the data summary on the dated, signed and located portulan charts in Spain and on their authors. At the end of 1987 an unpublished atlas arrives at his hands, it is signed by Joan Martines and dated in 1570 in which there are represented a map of the world and four portulan charts drawn on vellum with plenty of colours, illuminated in gold and silver and of gorgeous execution. In the inferior part of the world map the signature and date “Joan Martines in Messina Añy 1570”. His specialization in the study of portulan charts makes him have the feeling that he is before a great finding. Until that moment only two atlases of that author, cartographer of king Felipe II, were conserved in Spain. The first dated in 1577, property of the Casa de Alba, the second, dated in 1587 is in the National Library. “I never thought that someday an original one of these beautiful portulan charts would get to comprise of my collections, but in the life of every collector always there are pieces that seem moved by the chance, the magic or the destiny. In my case it was a finding and its history began in my own city of Valencia. A good day a friend came to see me with a folder that, according to him, contained maps of 1870 inherited from a relative and which they calculated that they had been more than one hundred years at the bottom of a safe. Hardly had I had it in my hands I realized it was a XVI century codex, that the eight of the eight hundred was a five of the five hundred, that the maps were a wonder and that the signature was of Joan Martines, the best cartographer of his time and cosmographer of Felipe II. I told my friend that one was, in my opinion, a valuable piece. Years later, an agreement between gentlemen, something that isn't in style anymore, gives me the great satisfaction of incorporating it to my collections.” His friendship with professor Antonio Imbesi, then vice rector of the University of Messina, great fan of the cartography, provided him information on works of Joan Martines, he considered the appearance of the unknown work of the famous cartographer from Mesina very important and he encouraged him to study it and to announce it.
After years of investigations and studies, the Atlas of Joan Martines was presented in 1989 in the Conference on Historical Cartography that took place in Madrid. Some months later it is spread world-wide as it is published in the English magazine at the International Map Collector’s Society. One of the objectives of Luis Giménez was always the one of the dissemination of the cartography. This interest motivated that, under his management, a facsimile of the same with the maximum fidelity to the original one was published, accompanied by several works of investigation. There were many the hours that Luis Giménez dedicated to the contemplation, investigation and study of this beautiful portulano. During that one time his life centred on this finding. As convinced as he was, right from the start, that he was facing an important task, he did not let himself be influenced by the skepticism that some showed him. On the contrary, he published and advertised his studies and conclusions in specialized media and forums, and searched for advice from leading experts in cartography. In 1992 he had the honour to preside over the International Symposium of the “International Map Collector’s Society” that took place in Madrid. On the 22nd December 1994 the facsimile was shown in the Naval Museum of Madrid, being the original one exhibited in the Room of the Discoveries until the year of its acquisition by the National Library, so that it could be contemplated and be studied by the lovers of the historical cartography. In 1995 the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya, on the occasion of the International Cartographic Conferences, is able to reunite in the hall Tinell of Barcelona the most important exhibition of portulan charts, publishing a magnificent catalogue in which the Atlas of Joan Martines already appears . In April of 1997, organized by the Diputación de Valencia, the exhibition “Valencian Historical Cartography” took place reuniting magnificent national and foreign pieces, appearing the complete “Valencia” collection of Luis Giménez Lorente. In 2002, Joan Martines' Atlas was classified as an Asset of Cultural Interest. The management of the National Bibliographical Patrimony is interested in such an important work, that it will be acquired by the National Library, entering to comprise of his collections and making in this form his permanence in Spain certain. Currently, the bibliocartographic collection -- which includes originals, facsimiles, and reproductions -- contains: 22 atlases, 90 maps of the world, 170 printed maps, 77 navigation charts and more than one thousand engravings, laminae and books. In addition it includes a section dedicated to the history of the Pharmacy, pharmaceutical books and documents that joins to the cartographic collection. Among these last ones it is necessary to emphasize a unit of the Valencian Pharmacopoeia of 1601, from which few units are known and that Giménez found in Palma de Mallorca in terrible conditions and that, after recovering it, it was shown in the Pharmaceutical Association of Valencia in 2002. The Pharmacopoeias gathered all the formulas for compounding drugs books, forms, antidote books and agreements books that the pharmaceutical schools pronounced. Throughout the time, the majority of these books, obligatory in the pharmacy offices, have been lost because the old pharmacopoeias retired as soon as the new editions arrived.
Today the collection of Luis Giménez Lorente is rigorously documented and computerized and an essential reference for the study of cartography and history of the Valencia of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. “Besides wanting to know the past, I have been interested on the present, more than one decade ago I decided to get up to date computerizing my collections”. He always liked to present his “treasures”. He enjoyed enormously talking about his maps. His study, that “cabinet of the wonders” that remembered those interiors that 17th century Dutch painters like Vermeer reproduced, was always open to whoever wanted to visit it. There, among walls in which engravings and maps were hanging and bookcases were filled with books, he spent hours and hours after his retirement. He, great traveller in his youth, shut oneself among his papers and thence he stated the outer world. He received visits, many by the way, of relatives, friends and fellow members ; he "surfed” the web; read, studied; and when he got tired of doing research and taking annotations he listened to music, watched documentaries on history ....... Until the day of his death, the 24th April 2006, he went down to his office to work.
In his last years his preoccupation about what would happen with his collections when he was gone grew. His idea had always been that his collection stayed together and that it could be consulted by students, scholars and investigators. The inheritance that he always thought to leave was the spreading of his passion for the historical cartography. His friend, professor Gaja, sent to the director of the Polytechnical University of Valencia, Mr. Justo Nieto, the catalogue of the collection and his interest to find an institution to entrust his collections with. After knowing the professor Mr. Manuel Chueca and being excited with the project designed by him, he decided to donate his collection to the Fundación that with his name will be settled and located in the Geodesy, Cartography and Topography Superior Technical School in the Polytechnical University of Valencia.
On 12th December 2003 he was nominated Doctor Honoris Causa by this university and in his investiture speech, after being thankful for the title and making a review by their life and his trajectory as studious and collector affirmed: “Now, from my already many years (84) when reviewing the hours of my life spent to the maps, navigation charts, their study and even his contemplation, I am glad to see that they have occupied very happy moments of my life, and I must be thankful to Juliana, my wife, and to my brothers and nephews who have supported the peculiarities of this old collector, that have helped him whenever he has needed them and they have been pleased with the destiny of my collections to this university. I am sure that without their aid, my works would have failed (............) and I am sure that the seed the old map lover is sowing in the nascent university, under the watchful eye of professor Chueca, will bear much fruit, and Valencia will be able soon to enjoy the cartholibrary, pride of the Polytechnical University and of all the Valencians”.
It was a real pride to him seeing while still alive how his maps, his books, his engravings… were going to join the university. Besides the discovery of the atlas, this was the fact that more joy produced to him as cartographer. He was lucky again but, can it be called luck when you work every day during almost fifty years for something and you obtain it? He always wanted to contribute with his work, to arrive farther. He was an enormously generous man in the material, but also intellectually speaking. He wanted to share his findings, his studies, his ideas. There is a personality feature, a form to watch the life that those that knew him stated; the persistence. His pure conviction of that in this life it is necessary to work hard in what you choose, to enjoy yourself but also to do something to be able to improve the life of the others took him to encourage, to impel or to finance social and cultural projects. Often he had to struggle, the truth be told, against the elements, yet he never felt fear nor resentment. On the contrary he tried to enjoy the good things that life offers. All those that have been near him have learned or they have been influenced much or little, wanting or not, of his love for the cartography, but mainly of his curiosity, of his ability to work, his eagerness of knowledge, his generosity and his noble way to watch life.