“Printed at Antwerp the fiue and twenty day of March”

This title page shows a strange combination of typographical features and language. Strange, at least, for someone who has seen a lot of title pages printed or published in Antwerp, and probably less so for people who are mainly dealing with the books in EEBO, ECCO, or those called up for in reading rooms of libraries with rich early modern English holdings. If the imprint read “Printed at London with licence, the fiue and twenty day of March, 1601″ what would you then think about it? Would the fact that the printer of publisher is not mentioned here alarm you?

title page

title page

The printer is actually mentioned in the colophon, as happened so often. On fol. H5 recto, on a page facing the end of the book proper, is printed an oval vignette featuring the monogram ‘IHS’, beneath it an horizontal, single line, and below that the imprint, which reads “At Antuerpe | Printed by Arnold Coninx | 1601.”

colophon

colophon

It is not unusual that the printer is mentioned in the colophon in stead of on the title page, and Arnold Coninx, or Conincx, indeed is a printer active in Antwerp around the end of the sixteenth century and printing books until about 1617—his widow published at least two books in 1621, so it can safely be stated that her husband passed away sometime between 1617 and 1621.

The spelling of the city as “Antwerp” on the one hand and as “Antuerpe” on the other may be surprising on first sight, but the variants that exist of that name are legion. We have come across spellings such as “Andtvverpen,” “Antorf,” “Antuerpen,” “Antverpen,” “Antvrpiae,” “Antvverpiae,” “Antvvorpe,” “Hantwerpen,” “t’Antvverpen,” “Tanwerpen,” “Thanwerpen,” to name just a few. “W”s are interchangeable with “VV”s, and “V”s with “U”s. Compositors have also messed up the name by omitting or changing characters, such as in “Antvepiae,” “Antveriæ,” “Antverrpiae,” “Antwepen,” “Antwerrpen,” or “Antwerepn.” The result of all that creativity is a list of 169 variants thus far recorded in the authority file of the city’s name, consisting of Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Latin translations and their different spellings.

And the same can be said of the printer’s name, Arnout Coninxs. His name appears in 15 different spellings and formulas in—only!—33 different editions. His first name is either spelled as “Arnold,” “Arnout,” “Arnouts,” or “Arnoldus.” His family name appears as “Conincx,” but also as “s’Conincx,” sometimes also without the “c” (as “Coninx”), but also as “Conings” and even once as “Conin.”

Most editions we know that were printed by him are calendars or works which deal in one way or another with cosmography. And almost a third of his editions recorded in the Short Title Catalogue Flanders are in English, as this one is. So why would we doubt what this title page tells us? Do you have any suggestions? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and in my next post I’ll look further at this work.

Author: Goran Proot

GORAN PROOT is Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Rare Books at the Folger Shakespeare Library. He is currently surveying layout and typography in early modern books.

14 Comments

  1. Interesting to note also that after the date of publication on the title page appears the phrase “stilo novo”. Presumably this is intended for English readers of the book, who would need to understand that 25 March 1601 in Antwerp (then under the duchy of Brabant and on the Gregorian calendar) would not be 25 March 1601 in Julian England but would be 15 March 1600. But why this should matter is an even more interesting question: why bother putting “stilo novo” on the title page at all? Indeed, why be so precise about the exact date? Is something being communicated here that is now lost to us?

    • Dear William,

      Thank you for this observation. The phrase ‘stilo novo’ puzzles me as well. I cannot remember having seen this indication on any other ‘Flemish’ title page. It seems to be totally irrelevant, unless the date of 25 March is here mentioned on purpose, for example to force a reference to the feast day of the Annunciation of the Lord.

      Best wishes,

      Goran

  2. The IHS would lead me to think this is a Catholic work, not something that would go over well in England in 1601. So I would assume the publication info is false.

    • Dear John,

      Thank you for that remark. The IHS is the so-called Christogram and refers to Christ. The abbreviation can also be solved as Iesus Hominum Salvator, or as In Hoc Signum. Although the IHS monogram is not only used by Jesuits, it very often bears the connotation of the Jesuits or their order, because they used it intensively, and so it became a sort of ‘hall mark’.

  3. The ESTC indicates that the true printer is not Arnold Coninx but an English secret press. Could it really have been printed in England ? The IHS supports the idea of a Catholic work which is presumably made clear by the book’s content. 25th March is Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, and this may be significant. Using stilo novo may also be a piece of Catholic flag-waving.

    • Dear John,

      I would like to believe the ESTC, but this source does not always state why a particular edition is not printed where it pretends to be printed. This is a Catholic work, so it was either printed on the Continent (and Antwerp was in 1601 definitely Catholic, thus a safe place for someone printing this text), or it was printed by a secret press in England, in which case one should better not use an address that could give the printers away.

  4. I forget what exactly these figures are called (press marks? printers’ marks?), but perhaps there are numbers (not signatures, not page numbers) on the bottom margin of some of the leaves. If I am remembering rare books class correctly, these numbers are unique to English books and would indicate that indeed this book was printed in England.

    • It sounds like you’re thinking of press figures—marks (usually numbers, but not always) that indicate the pressman who set the forme. Those are found primarily in English books, but not in this period; they started to appear in the 1680s, but weren’t really common until the 18th century.

      • Thank you, Sarah.

        There are no press marks in this book, but the signatures are somewhat unusual for an Antwerp imprint, and they may give us a clue. The book is throughout signed with the letters a through h in lowercase. That is rather unusual in books printed in Flanders in the Early Modern period. The Short Title Catalogue Flanders (STCV) records 148 editions with the date 1601 in the imprint, and only in eleven collations the lower case alphabet is used to sign the main text of the publications. (And lower case letters appear in separately signed prelims only three times in the editions published that year, and nine times to sign indexes or tables at the end of the work.)

  5. A reply to the Epistle by Andrew Willett called ‘An antilogie…’ was published in 1603. He suspects that the Epistle’s author was an ‘Ignatian’, i.e. a Jesuit. which would explain precisely the IHS device in the colophon.

  6. Well, I’m not familiar with what Antwerp printing looks like, but as someone who does look at lots of English-printed books, I’d be struck by the IHS above the colophon. Anything in English that signals a Catholic perspective is worth questioning where it is printed, no matter what the imprint says! I might wonder, too, about the absence of a device on the title page.

    • Printer’s devices do not always appear in books. Only 316 editions printed in Flanders during the first decade of the seventeenth century (1601-1610) bear a printer’s device, on the title page or elsewhere in the book. On a total of 974 editions thus far entered in the STCV, that is about 32% or one third. Thus the absence of a printer’s mark is not a strong indicator anyway.
      A IHS-monogram or a vignette featuring the Christogram turns up on three Flemish title pages published in the year 1601. I checked this by looking at all images of title pages which are linked to 53 bibliographic descriptions in the STCV; the images for the other 95 editions have not yet been added to the online database.

  7. As a curator of old books in Antwerp, I’m very familiar with Antwerp books and very little of them look ‘English’ like this one. I mainly notice the use of ruled borders and of italics on the title page – very unusual for a book printed in Antwerp. This may point to one of two things: either this is a fake imprint, or Arnout Coninx deliberately imitated the look of English books for an English audience.

    Although the former is statistically the best option, my money is on the second: the IHS mark in the colophon seems to be a metalcut instead of a woodcut. It was used primarily for stamping leather bindings, but could also be used for illustrating books as has happened here.

    • Dear Steven,

      Thank you for your comment!

      First of all, italics do appear on title pages printed in Flanders in this period. They begin to appear even before 1541 (I believe Dirk Martens was the first one using them), and from 1541 onwards their use increases all the time. By the first decade of the seventeenth century, about 80% of all Latin-language title pages produced in Flanders have at least one word printed with italics. For Dutch-language editions, about 40% of the title pages have this feature in the period 1601-1610, and that number will increase at least until the 1660s. So, to find italics on an ‘Antwerp’ title page in 1601 is not very strange.

      But the ruled borders are! On a total of 53 title pages I could inspect in the STCV database, only 4 had some kind of border: 3 have a border composed of fleurons, and one is an illustrated border (a woodcut), but borders made out of two lines are very exceptional. It is, I believe, more an English feature.

      Another phenomenon, also on our title page, is the appearance of two horizontal, single lines. This feature is very seldom in Flanders; it does not appear on any of the 53 title pages in the STCV of this year, and I cannot recall to have ever seen it on a genuine Antwerp imprint either — although one should always double check.

      The IHS monogram in the colophon may be a metalcut — that is a very good suggestion. The IHS monograms I know from Flemish books are mostly in a very different style, but again, this requires some follow up.

      Who is next?

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