Red morocco binding from the library of Marcus Laurinus ?

Content [Joaan. Chaeradamus] Mega etymologikon = Magnvm etymologicvm Graecae linguae. Venetiis: apud Federicum Turrisanum, 1549. Folio. OTM: Band 2 B 5.

Band 2 B 5-1.upper cover-001

Who was Marcus Laurinus, in full, heer van Watervliet, Waterland en Lambersart (1525–1581)? We know he lived in Bruges, was of affluent heritage, a humanist, bibliophile and numismatist, which culminated in his patronage of the artist Hubertus Goltzius (1526–1583). Laurinus contracted Goltzius to make numismatic illustrations for a classical history he was writing, and together they set up the first private press in the Low Countries, the Officina Goltziana. The latter became Laurinus’ economic downfall. After the Union of Utrecht in 1580, Laurinus had to leave Bruges along with with other high placed Catholics. He died in exile, having not long before been violently robbed of his last possessions, manuscripts and coins, by Scottish Presbytarians.

Other than his involvement in the Officina Goltziana and all that that entailed (documented by Fontaine Verwey[1]), not much is known about Laurinus’ bibliophilic activity. There is a lack of sources concerning the content and size of his library, which must have been impressive. However some 30+ Laurinus bindings have been identified in studies by W.H.J. Weale, E.Ph. Goldschmidt, H.M. Nixon and M. Foot.

Overview of Laurinus bindings The point of departure is the Goldschmidt list[2], which amounts to 21 bindings, to which Nixon added another 6[3], supplemented by 2 bindings found by Foot[4], which results in a total of 29 bindings from Laurinus’ own library. To these can be added 3 bindings[5] Laurinus presented to others and 1 binding[6] presented to Laurinus by Jean Grolier. Only one of the bindings, Goldschmidt list no. 21 (Addenda), has proved untraceable, the 1502 Aldine Sophocles. Most were bound in Paris, by Grolier’s binders: The Cupid’s Bow Binder and Claude de Picques. Some are thought to be Bruges bound. All but one[7] have Marcus Laurinus’ name tooled on one of the covers, either M. LAVRINI ET AMICORUM on the books from his own library, or M. LAVRINUS or M. LAVRINO on dedication copies. Not counting the elusive Sophocles, the Laurinus corpus is 32 bindings.

Where does this leave the University of Amsterdam’s OTM: Band 2 B 5? Both Nixon 1971 and Foot 1978 claim this binding to be Venetian, ‘To this [the Goldschmidt list] can now be added a Venetian binding, from a workshop which supplied Cardinal Granvelle, on a Magnum etymologicum Graecae linguae. Venice 1549…’[8], and based on the tooling, Foot specifies the binder as The Venetian Apple Binder[9], also known as the Fugger Binder.
But was this binding part of Laurinus’ library? Although it has the same simple tooling seen on many of the 32 bindings mentioned above, it does not have Laurinus’ name or dedication tooled on either of the covers.

Band 2 B 5-10-001

Laurinus’ handwritten name on the title page is crossed out, making positive identification of his handwriting difficult, but even if Laurinus might have written his name there himself, it seems out of character not to have had his name also tooled on the cover, seeing that the 31 extant bindings do. On the title page, above and below the printer’s device, some effectively smudged out words. Was this binding possibly a gift copy? But then again, no dedication text tooled on the covers.

Goldschmidt mentions a Blondus Flavius. Venice: 1510, also with Laurinus’ name handwritten on the title page. Sold in the Paris Libri Sale, 2 July 1857…does that ring a bell? Guglielmo Libri-Carrucci dalla Sommaia, scholar, bibliophile, trusted government official, library inspector and eventually posthumously demasked as book thief and forger. Opportunity can make the thief. The catalogue does not mention any specifics other than the title and Laurinus’ name written the title page, no binding details, which probably means it was not tooled with any form of LAVRINIUS[10]. Could the Blondus Flavius have been one of Libri’s counterfeited products? And what about Band 2 B 5?
Food for thought.

Marcus Laurinus jr. [Lauweryn], heer van Watervliet, Waterland en Lambersart (1525–1581).
Sotheby’s Sale 23 May 1960. Lot nr. 41.
Antiquarian Bookseller Nico Israel.

Fontaine Verwey 1972 H. de la Fontaine Verwey, ‘The first private press in the Low Countries. Marcus Laurinus and the Officina Goltziana.’ In: Quarendo, II 4, 1972, p.294–310.

Fontaine Verwey 1982 H. de la Fontaine Verwey, ‘De eerste “private press” in de Nederlanden. Marcus Laurinus en de “Officina Goltziana”.’ In: Uit de wereld van het boek. 1: Humanisten, dwepers en rebellen in de zestiende eeuw. Amsterdam: Nico Israel, 1982, p.81–102.

Guglielmo Libri-Carrucci dalla Sommaia.

HDG I Mirjam M. Foot, ‘The bindings for Marc Laurin’. In: —, The Henry Davis Gift. A Collection of Bookbindings. London: The British Library, 1978–2010. 3 vols. Vol. I Studies in the History of Bookbinding. 1978, p. 219–22.

Goldschmidt list E.P. Goldschmidt, Gothic and Renaissance Bookbindings. London: Benn etc., 1928. 2 vols. Vol. I: p. 281–5, 325. Vol II: Plts. 206 & 207.

Laurinus corpus Goldschmidt, Nixon and Foot combined.

Nixon 1971 Howard M. Nixon, Sixteenth-century Gold-tooled Bookbindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1971. p.134–40.

Claude de Picques (ca. 1510 – 1574 or 1578) was an influential French bookbinder. He was closely connected with the court of King Henry II of France, serving as the personal bookbinder to Queen Catherine de’ Medici from 1553.

Cupid’s Bow Binder (active 1550–55) one of Grolier’s binders. Unidentified.

ET AMICORUM refers to the Humanist principle of sharing of books among friends and family.

Cardinal Granvelle (1517–1586) influential European politicien and notable art collector.

Jean Grolier (1489–90 – 22 October 1565) was Treasurer-General of France and a famous bibliophile. As a book collector, Grolier is known in particular for his patronage of the Aldine Press, and his love of richly decorated bookbindings.

Morocco goatskin.

Venetian Apple Binder / Fugger Binder unidentified binder, worked almost exclusively for the Augsburgse banker Johann Jakob Fugger (1516–1575). Also made bindings for Cardinal Granvelle.

  1. Fontaine Verwey 1972.  ↩
  2. Goldschmidt 1928, p. 282–3 & Addenda.  ↩
  3. Nixon 1971, p. 137.  ↩
  4. Foot 1928, p. 227, fn 4.  ↩
  5. Foot 1978, p. 220. Nixon 1971, p. 137.  ↩
  6. This binding was part of the Library of Jean-Charles Motteley (1778–1850), housed after his death in the Palais des Tuileries, and together with many precious others did not survive the fire set by the Paris Commune in Paris in the night of 23th May 1871.  ↩
  7. Sylvius. Paris: 1559. Goldschmidt list no. 18. Pending visual identification.  ↩
  8. Nixon 1971. p.139.  ↩
  9. Foot 1978, p. 225.  ↩
  10. Goldschmidt 1928, p. 283, fn. 1  ↩

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