Acquired at Buch- und Kunstauktionshaus Zisska & Kistner, Munich
Date: First quarter seventeenth century
Size: 10 x 14 cm.
Call number: 79 J 64; 2218 E 22
This extremely rare 'Steek- of speldenboekje' Openhertighe herten contains 65 engravings. In the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century someone cut out 35 of these engravings from a copy of this book, stuck them on blank sheets of paper and then wrote the poems and captions to go with them. This may have been done because the original copy had fallen to bits because of the special way these books were used. The reason they are called 'steek- of speldenboekjes' ['pin books'] is that in circles of amorous young ladies and gentlemen a pin would be inserted between the pages so that the passage thus indicated could be read out loud, to the amusement of those present.
The title of the book - Openhertighe herten or 'Open-Hearted Hearts' - tells us all we need to know: this book is about love. With its presentation of pictures with captions and accompanying poems, this book is an example of the genre of emblem books, in which pictures and appropriate text go together. In this case the focus is on heart emblems.
A heart is shown in each picture, and often a heart is also 'speaking' in the poems and captions. The book contains depictions of hearts in all sorts of everyday situations: at a table with drinks on it, in a treasure chest, in front of a mirror, outside in the street, in the countryside, etc. A good example, with an appropriate proverb, is to be found on page 31. Here the heart, on a table with bound books, says: 'Van harten sien ick gern een groot kas vol boecken, maer selden heb ick lust om die eens 'tondersoecken' ['I really love to see a big bookcase full of books, but I don't often feel like examining them'].
Eight years after purchasing this work, which proved to be incomplete, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek also bought one of only two known copies of the complete printed version of Openhertighe herten at an auction in England, from the John Landwehr collection. (AL)