Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
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Who made that jewel?

Cleria Ruiz
Dept. Protection of Cultural Patrimony
National Museum

During your visit to the Museum perhaps you have admired the design and carved beauty of this cabinet, contemplating the fragility of its legs…or admired the delicate atlases supporting all the weight of the piece. Perhaps you wonder who made it, and when?

Known as the "piece of the atlases," due to the carved figures on the legs, the cabinet was made under the direction of Roberto Ramón Coll of Spanish descent, to be given to the National Museum. It was presented at the National Art, Trades & Industries Exposition in September, 1917 at the Juan Rafael Mora school, where it received the silver medal.

In 2009 his granddaughter, Ms. Pilar Ramón gave us information and photographs of her grandfather. She and her siblings told us about his life and that of her grand uncles, which we share below.

A family of cabinet makers

Roberto Ramón Coll, son of Roberto Ramón Sanchiz, was a Spanish immigrant who arrived in Costa Rica in 1893, when there were few cabinet makers. Therefore, he founded a workshop, for which he imported Catalonian helpers—among them, Jaime Form, Eduardo Lloset, and brothers Carlos and Luis Gómez. The workshop and store were located nearby Chelles Bar. At the 1904 census he appears as a 38 year-old master carpenter living in El Carmen. 

Mr. Roberto Ramón Sanchiz married Concepción Coll, having five children. His son, Roberto was born in Argentine waters when the family was on route to Costa Rica in 1893. Always a hard-working man, in 1915 he worked at the store in San José according to the commercial census, and at age 24 became the owner and businessman of his shop located on avenue FG, street 9, on the southern quadrant of the San José county.

Roberto Ramón Coll's children inherited many of their father's abilities, and took to cabinet craftsmanship and art.  Arturo worked at the Cabinetmaker's Public Works Shop, where he was a carving master, painter, and sculptor, and did part of the furnishings for the National Theatre. On occasion, Roberto worked with his brother; one of those occasions was to direct the making of the cabinet in question.

The Ramón brothers made true wooden jewels such as a presidential chair, and a confession booth for the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Translation courtesy of Silvia Piza-Tandlich /