Pseudo-Magnus

Dark brown-carmine morocco, gold-tooled. The covers of this binding have been tooled with all sorts of small tools and rolls. Within a wide frame, including a bird-in-vine roll, is a second frame with protruding points in the middle of its sides, which touch upon the first frame. In between both frames and in the central panel are various groups of fleurons, small rondels and volutes. The spine has been restored, but still shows the original panels with special tools for the corners and the middle; the second panel shows the title of the book.

Albert Magnus (Amsterdam 1642-1689) is generally considered the most important Dutch bookbinder. When Sir Herbert Thomas presented this binding to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in 1920 it was regarded as a Magnus masterpiece. Albert Magnus started making his luxury bindings around 1667. Herman de la Fontaine Verwey's pioneering research has yielded much information on Magnus's professional activities. Mirjam Foot has examined the tools of many bindings attributed to Magnus and proved that a large part of them cannot have been made by the master himself.

Foot divided the binders into ten groups - although no names of binders can be attached to them - and the group subsequently named ‘Kircher-binder’ is undoubtedly the most important. The maker of the binding reproduced on the opposite page was of the same professional stature as Magnus; he must have worked in Amsterdam and used tools directly based on those used by Magnus. Foot provisionally dubbed this group the ‘Kircher-binder’ because four of the eight luxury bindings she knew from this group contained works of the learned ‘homo universalis’ Athanasias Kircher: two copies of his China monumentis *(1667) and two of his *Latium (1671). Kircher was born in Germany and lived in Rome, but 14 out of the 34 editions of his work were published by Janssonius van Waesberghe in Amsterdam. The four de luxe bindings with work by Kircher must have been presentation copies; one of the China monumentis copies has the coat of arms of Pope Clemens IX on its covers. Although Latium was dedicated to Pope Clemens X, this does not necessarily imply that the Koninklijke Bibliotheek copy was his presentation copy. There is a second beautifully bound copy in the Röhsska Konstslöjd Museet in Göteborg, that has equal rights to this title. They may both have been intended for the Pope - it was not unusual for several copies in luxury bindings to be presented simultaneously - or they may have been destined for someone else from whom Kircher expected a favour in return.

Athanasius Kircher. Latium. Bookbinding. Amsterdam. Kircher-binder. 1671? Contents: Athanasius Kircher. Latium. Amstelodami, apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge, & haeredes Elizei Weyerstraet, 1671. 2º. - 144 A 14

Athanasius Kircher. Latium. Bookbinding. Amsterdam. Kircher-binder. 1671? Contents: Athanasius Kircher. Latium. Amstelodami, apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge, & haeredes Elizei Weyerstraet, 1671. 2º. - 144 A 14

Literature

A.W. Byvanck, ‘Prachtbanden uit de werkplaats van Magnus te Amsterdam’, in: Oudheidkundig Jaarboek 3e serie, 7 (1927), p. 106-121
H.F. Wijnman, ‘De Amsterdamse boekbinder Albert Magnus’, in: Oud Holland 54 (1937), p. 183-192 en 230-240
H. de la Fontaine Verwey, ‘The binder Albert Magnus and the collectors of his age’, in: Quaerendo 1 (1971), p. 158-178
M.M. Foot. Studies in the history of bookbinding. London 1979, p. 246 (The Henry Davis gift, a collection of bookbindings, dl. 1).