top of page

Francisco de Paula Martí

Francisco José Buenaventura de Paula Martí y Mora (born in Xàtiva, (then known as "Colonia Nueva de San Felipe", on April 22, 1761 – died in Lisbon on July 8, 1827), in a wealthy family, was an engraver (engraver), cryptographer, playwright and Spanish stenographer.


He studied Humanities in Játiva and then went to Valencia to study Fine Arts. At the age of 24, he won an engraving prize at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos in Valencia and began to practice his profession as an engraver in sweet engraving.


  Later, he settled in Madrid, where he dedicated himself to the study of shorthand, founding the Royal School of Stenography, which he directed for twenty-five years. In 1799 he published “Stenografía, the art of abbreviated escribir” (Stenography, or the Art of Abbreviated Writing), a book that he himself later re-elaborated with several of his others and adapted for Catalan and Portuguese, as well as for Spanish.

He published his first book on Spanish stenography proper in Madrid in 1803, entitled “Taquigrafía castellana”, or the art of writing as quickly as one speaks and with the same clarity of common writing, having produced numerous editions, both in life and posthumously, by his disciples.


In 1806 he created the first pocket diary in Spain, which he called “Compendio del año 1807” and a memoir; the invention was reprinted until at least 1825 and its 7 x 11.5 cm pages contained information on raffles, vacations and plenary indulgences, and information such as provincial inhabitants or distance between cities.

In 1808, he published “Poligrafía; ó Art of writing en cipher in different ways”, a work that was basically a treatise on cryptography.

Of liberal ideology, he was an engraver at the Royal Typography of Cádiz in 1811 and member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando; during the War of Independence (1808-1814) and during the Liberal Triennium (1820-1823) he composed several satirical plays in which he attacked the enemies of the 1812 Constitution.


He was professor of shorthand, member of the board of the Royal College for the Deaf and Dumb and president of the Arts and Crafts class of the Economic Society of Madrid from 1817 onwards; from 1821 he was also its accountant. 

Francisco de Paula Martí was one of the few Spanish portrait artists to produce portraits using the physiographic technique. The physiognomy - a semi-mechanical process derived from the silhouette, to which a certain pre-photographic character can be attributed - was invented in 1786 by Gilles-Louis Chrètien and was at its height in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In 1961, in his honor, a bust was erected in Madrid's Retiro Park (work by the brothers Pedro (architect) and Enrique Cuartero Huerta, sculptor, author of the bust) which reads: "To Francisco de Paula Martí Mora, inventor of Spanish shorthand. 1761-1827", and in front a text in Latin: "Currant verba licet, manus est velocior illis, nondum lingua suum dextra peregit opus". “Although words run quickly, the hand is faster than them; the tongue has not yet done it, and the hand has completed its work.” (Free translation)

bottom of page