Acquired at Romantic Agony, Brussels
Date: Ca. 1629
Size: 8 x 9 cm.
Shelfmark: 2216 B 30
At an auction in Brussels in autumn 2004, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek managed to acquire a copy of an extremely rare and puzzling edition of the emblem book Sinne- en minnebeelden [Portraits of morality and love] by Jacob Cats. This was the second known copy of an edition which Cats specialist Hans Luijten dates 'possibly in or after 1629'. The other copy is held in the Stirling Maxwell Collection at the University of Glasgow library. The Koninklijke Bibliotheek copy is nevertheless unique, as the Scottish copy contains a preface in French ('Cupidon a la jeunesse'), whereas this one features the Dutch text, 'Aen de Zeevsche ionck-vrovwen' [To the young ladies of Zeeland], which was standard for this work.
The title page of this otherwise unimpressive-looking book gives the title in Dutch, Latin and French. And barely noticeable at the bottom of the engraving is the cryptic text 'Joh Scheffe ex Bolduc'.
Although it is tempting to interpret this as the imprint of the printing family Scheffer from 's Hertogenbosch (Bolduc), they are unlikely to have been responsible for the printing. Scheffers published only Catholic works, while Cats was the leading light of Dutch Protestant poetry.
The book's engravings offer some clues, however, since they correspond to the illustrations in the 1629 edition of Sinne- en minnebeelden printed in The Hague by Adriaen vander Venne and Joost Ockersz. In addition, an English translation accompanies the emblems, which otherwise occurs only in the 1627 edition published in Rotterdam by Pieter van Waesberge. It is possible, but cannot be proven, that the book is somehow connected with the 1632 dispute between Vander Venne and Ockersz about the publication of small-format editions of Cats' work. (EG)