General Price List of Medicines


The work presented here, Tarifa general de precios de medicinas (General price list of medicines), dates from 1723. Produced by Cuba’s first printer, Carlos Habré, an immigrant from Ghent, Flanders, it long has been considered the earliest surviving printed document in Cuba. However, recent studies have demonstrated that it was preceded by a Novena made by Habré in 1722. This copy of the Tarifa is the only one known to exist from the single edition printed by Habré. It was written by Francisco Tenesa (also seen as Francisco de Teneza y García, 1666‒1742), a doctor of civil law and outstanding physician from the University of Orihuela in Valencia, who traveled to Cuba from Spain as doctor of a fleet in 1695. Tenesa established the Royal Tribunal of the Protomedicato of Havana, the technical body that examined and licensed medical students and that regulated the practice of medicine and other matters of public health. The Royal Tribunal of the Protomedicato of Havana existed from 1711 to 1833. The Tarifa is an alphabetical list of the medicines available in Cuba at the time and their approved prices per dose. The work was originally printed as separate pages and has no page numbers. The characters used in the printing are irregular, with some larger than others and with some peculiar accentuation, notably the absence of the ñ and the presence on some pages of italic e’s. The cover of the booklet has a coat of arms, which is followed by a page with an ornamental border and the title Arancel o tarifa general, de precios de las medicinas simples y compuestas (General price list or tariff of simple and compound medicines). On the reverse appears the writ of Doctor Francisco Tenesa, followed by the list of medicines. The volume was later bound in leather and given a gold-embossed title. The work was rediscovered by Doctor Manuel Pérez Beato in the early 20th century. Tarifa general de precios de medicinas was inscribed on the Cuban National Register of the Memory of the World program of UNESCO in March 2016.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Carlos Habré, Havana, Cuba


Title in Original Language

Tarifa General de Precios de Medicinas

Type of Item

Physical Description

30 pages ; 19 x 14 centimeters


  1. Miguel Darío García Porto, translated by Luis E. Amador Dominguez, “Cuban document on pharmacology to include in the Memory of the World Program” (CMBQ Radio Enciclopedia).
  2. Kenneth C. Ward, “Carlos Habré, Francisco José de Paula, and the ‘Pre-History’ of Printing in Havana, Cuba,” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 110, number 3 (September 2016).

Last updated: July 28, 2017