Unique Information on a Seventeenth-Century Printing House in Arnhem

W.J. op t Hof

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Having first briefly informed the reader on the life of the Puritan Arthur Hildersham (1563-1632), author of Fonteyne des levens, and of its Dutch translator, the Reformed Pietist Arnhem minister Daniel van Laren (b. 1585), and its Arnhem publisher Jacob van Biesen (d. 1677), this article deals in detail with the complicated history of its editions. Furthermore, it examines the relation between Van Laren and Van Biesen and between Van Laren and Hildersham. Its central theme is Van Biesen's dedication in the 1669 edition of Fonteyne des levens, a book of 780 pages in a quarto format, in which the publisher gives unique information on the total number of copies in the print runs of Fonteyne des levens and on the history of his printing house. His father-in-law Jan Jansz (d. 1629) had founded it in 1599. After the death of his father-in-law in 1629, he was his successor. By the time of writing of his dedication, both men combined had printed a total sum of over 'five tons of gold worth' of books in several subject areas and languages. In his dedication, the publisher also sets the total number of copies in the book's print runs since 1646 at over 4,000. This figure in fact covers three editions and means that Van Biesen printed the Dutch translation of Hildersham's work in runs of roughly 1,400 copies at a time. Fonteyne des levens was only one of the many Dutch translations of Puritan works in the seventeenth century, of which nearly 850 distinct editions are known. Print run numbers, however, were hitherto unknown. The discovery of Van Biesen's information enables us to conclude that there were in the order of 1,275,000 copies of Puritan works circulating in Dutch translation in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214-237
    Number of pages24
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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