THE INVENTION OF PRINTING
(1) Beschryvinge ende lof der Stad Haerlem in Holland.
(2) Lavre-Crans voor Lavrens Coster
Haarlem, A. Rooman, 1628.
FIRST EDITIONS. 8vo. 2 works in 1, separate t-ps, pp. (lxxxviii) 520 (vi, lacking final blank), 5 (iii) 5-124. Large Gothic letter, little Roman, Italic and secretary. Additional engraved t-p with view of Haarlem above, female personification of the city crowned by angels, surrounded by heraldic shields and flanked by lion, first: woodcut printer’s device to recto of V3, 5 full single page plates (2 folding) and 11 double-page with views and plans of Haarlem and everyday life scenes, second: woodcut printer’s device to t-p, full-page engraved portrait of Laurens Koster, decorated initials and ornaments. Ancient minor repair to verso of engraved t-p and another couple of plates, some reinforced at gutter, outer edge of first gathering a bit softened, occasional light age browning, upper edge trimmed, slight water stain to a few lower margins and lower outer corner of last few gatherings, little tear to T2 at head. A very good copy in contemporary Dutch calf, later eps to front, gilt to a panel design, borders with gilt rolls of palmettes, centre panel with gilt lozenge-shaped centrepiece, gilt large fleurons to corners, raised bands, spine double gilt ruled into five compartments, gilt cornerpieces and centrepiece to each, gilt-lettered morocco label, extremities a bit rubbed, upper joint repaired at head, slightly later bibliographical and historical Dutch annotations to free eps.
Excellent copy of the first edition of this influential history of the city of Haarlem—‘elaborate and beautifully illustrated’ (Falkenburg, ‘Nature and Landscape’, 78), here in finest impression. Samuel Ampzing (1590-1632) was a Calvinist minister in Haarlem. His work on ‘Beschryvinge’ started in 1617 as a historical and topographical poem of antiquarian character, devoted to the city. It was published in 1628 with the addition of a preface (a study of the Dutch language, with a focus on its purity—also sold separately) and a final poem (with a separate t-p) to Laurens Jansz. Koster (1370-1440), a contemporary of Gutenberg from Haarlem believed by some to be the true inventor of the printing press. This theory had first been put forward by the Dutch scholar Hadrianus Junius in his antiquarian work ‘Batavia’ (1588), where, by questioning a date, he made Koster the inventor of printing in 1440; only due to the flight of Koster’s assistant in 1441, after stealing the Haarlem workshop types, did the technique reach Mainz (and Gutenberg) by 1442, when the earliest traces of printing are recorded (‘The Harlem Legend’, 66-71). Ampzing was ‘a vehement partisan of his countryman’s claim to the invention of printing’, hence the decision to append Scriverius’s poem, first printed here, to his work (‘A Bibliography of Printing’, 8). The handsome engravings of the city, each accompanied by a verse caption, were made by J.P. Velde. They include a C15 printing press room showing Koster and a view of the market place showing his house. The illustrations are outstanding examples of the popular genre of woodcut and engraved landscape depictions, increasingly loved by the Dutch middle classes of major cities. A beautifully produced work, here in fine impression, with a place of honour in Dutch art and history.
Not in Graesse, Adams or Berlin Catalogue. A. van der Line, The Haarlem Legend of the Invention of Printing (London, 1871).