The Radermacher Sale Catalogue
The rich book collection of merchant and humanist Johan Radermacher the Elder (1538-1617) was sold by auction on 7 August 1634 at Middelburg in his son Steven's house and the printed catalogue had been produced by bookseller Johannes Hellenius (Hans van der Hellen). In every respect, the Radermacher auction had been a remarkable event. It concerns a treasure of over 1500 items (comprising well over 2000 titles) which mainly date from the sixteenth century. One can indeed wonder whether these were all Radermacher's books. After all, there were no less than seventeen and a half years between the decease of the Middelburg humanist and the auction in 1634.
All kinds of books owned by other people, for example by his children, could have been added to the collection. On p. 49, no. 66 under the heading 'Hispanici & Italici in quarto', for instance, the catalogue lists a Spanish catechism of 1628, drawn up for the benefit of schools and reformed churches. The book was published by Jores van Henghel, but no place of publication is given. What is clear, however, is that the book must have entered Radermacher's library after his death. Unfortunately, we do not know when or to whom it belonged. The same is the case for a book by Andrew Willet of 1618 found under the 'Incompacti' on p. 79, no. 65, entitled: Synopseos papismi controversia.
The Exemplaria vanden 104. Psalm under the heading 'Fasciculi' on p. 80, nos. 24-27 are a special case. According to the auction catalogue there were no less than 200 copies available. A copy of the first edition (Leiden: Jan Maire, 1618) has been traced in the Houghton Library in Cambridge (MA), shelfmark EC C6751 618p under the title: Paraphrasis, ofte eer een verclaringe ende verbreydinge eenes heerlicken psalms des propheten Davids. The author of the book is Jacob Colius Ortelianus (1563-1628), a silk merchant of London and nephew of the famous cartographer Abraham Ortelius. Colius' dedication to the reverend Simeon Ruytinck († 1621) is dated: London, 3 December 1617. We also know of a copy of the second enlarged impression of 1626 (Leiden University Library, shelfmark 1205 A 7). Seen in this context, the letter sent on 23 September 1623 by Radermacher's eldest son Johan to Colius contains an interesting remark. Radermacher jun. states in this letter that he has not yet received any copies 'des 104. psalms' from the printer Joannes Maire of Leiden, but that this publisher has informed him that they had been sent (UB Leiden: BPL 2755). Johan subsequently writes: 'Ick sal metter tyt gerne vwe ampliatie ontfangen, met Last om hier te laeten herdrucken […]' [I would in time be pleased to receive your amplification to have reprinted here …]. This 'amplification' is to be interpreted as the enlargment to the 1617 edition. The 1626 edition is indeed increased with a Paraphrasis of verclaringhe Vanden XXVII psalm and printed at Middelburg by the widow of Jan Pietersz. vande Venne. It would seem that Johan jun. continued the close and friendly contact his father had with Jacob Colius.
It may be clear that books published after Radermacher's death on 15 February 1617 are indeed found in the auction catalogue. Anna Simoni, who so patiently tried to trace the listed books, has managed to identify most titles in editions with publication years that would fall within or before Radermacher's lifetime. Editions that date from after his death are not listed by her.
It is customary to auction someone's estate in the first few years after the death of that person, but Radermacher's children were apparently not planning to dispose of the library of their father soon after his death. Did they not want to auction his library straightaway out of piety? By 1634, the year of the auction, seven of the twelve children from the Radermacher-Racket marriage had died. Some of them more or less shared the intellectual interests of their father, for instance Johan the Younger († 1629), Samuel († 1628), and Anna II († 1632). But they were the ones who had died. The ones still living in 1634 were Steven (1575- † between 1634 and 1651), Sara (1586- † between 1632 and 1651), Susanna (1588- † after 18 December 1652), Daniël I (1588-1637) and Johanna (1590-1662).
It is reasonable to assume that his youngest daughter Johanna and her husband Lucas Schorer eventually insisted upon the sale of the library. My argumentation is as follows: they resided in Radermacher's house on the Rotterdamsekaai 17 and possibly found the care of so large a library in their house too burdensome. At an unknown point in time, they probably had the books transferred to the house of Steven Radermacher in the Molstaat, since that was where the books were displayed during the auction as stated on the title-page of the catalogue. It is a pity that so little is known of this Steven. The only thing we do know is that he was the second son of Johan Radermacher and Johanna Racket (1547-1600), that he had been a deacon in the Dutch Reformed Church at Middelburg in 1628 and 1632 and that his father's library was auctioned from his house.
It is unfortunately not known which member of the Radermacher family engaged and paid Hans van der Hellen to compile the auction catalogue; it may possibly have been Steven or even Lucas Schorer. It was in any case sensible to choose Van der Hellen, as he was at that time the most important printer and publisher at Middelburg, hence a real professional. The Short Title Catalogue Netherlands contains no less than 104 titles which bear his name in the imprint. Of those, nine date from the period 1614-1617 when he still worked at Zierikzee, so no less than 95 titles date from his Middelburg period: 1618-1661. Van der Hellen was printer to the States of Zeeland and fairly active. Besides state publications, he published theological works, anti-Spanish pamphlets, as well as, for example, a work in English: John Wing's The crowne coniugall (1620). He also produced important literary publications, such as work by Jacob Cats (1618), Constantijn Huygens (1622) and Johan de Brune (1626).
What he did not have was experience in the publication of auction catalogues. Radermacher's catalogue was his first, and only in 1640 was he to publish a second auction catalogue, also more or less an affair of the Radermacher family. This second catalogue contained the book collection of Wilhelmus Thilenus († 1638), minister of the Dutch Church (Austin Friars) at London. His widow was Maria de Fraye, granddaughter of Radermacher and daughter of Radermacher's eldest daughter. Both the Radermacher auction and the Thilenus auction were held in a private residence and in both cases the auction was organised by an official auctioneer, that is to say: appointed by the town of Middelburg. It is as yet unknown who this auctioneer was, but it seems likely that a professional such as Van der Hellen was closely involved in the whole procedure. He was certainly paid for printing and distributing the catalogue. It was also expected that he posted up the title-page and that he informed his colleague booksellers throughout the country of the forthcoming auction. Of the catalogues published by him, only one copy of each has been traced. That of the Radermacher auction in the University Library of Cambridge (shelfmark: Hhh. 1133:5) and that of the Thilenus auction in the Biblioteca Angelica at Rome (shelfmark: ZZ.22.9:5).
Show me your library and I will tell you who you are, or so they say. True, someone's book collection usually has a relation with that person's interests. If we apply this to Johan Radermacher the Elder, the first assessment is that the man must have been conversant in several languages. His auction catalogue contains books in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, French, German, English, Spanish and Italian. This agrees with the picture we already have based on Radermacher's manuscript collection. This collection can be found in the University Library of Ghent, shelfmark HS. 2465 and is known as the Album J. Rotarii. The texts in this collection are available on the Internet in transcription and facsimile. A number of them has already been supplied with extensive annotations.
This man, who from his 23rd till his death in 1617, was intensely involved in the early reformed congregations of London, Antwerp, Aachen and Middelburg as deacon and elder had a considerable theological interest, as can be seen from both the manuscripts and the printed auction catalogue. The 563 items in his library listed under 'Theologi', which is more than one third of the total, testify to this. When one adds the devotional works in French, Dutch and other languages, it is clear that this kind of literature easily comprises two thirds of the collection. He did not only possess works by the most well-known reformers such as Luther, Calvin, Melanchton and Beza, but also works by the now less known theologians such as Peter Martyr, Pierre Viret, Heinrich Bullinger, Johannes Brenz, John Foxe, Martinus Borrhaus, Victor Strigelius, Lambert Daneau, Andreas Gerardus Hyperius, Johannes à Lasco and many others. He also had Roman Catholic works, mainly texts by church fathers (Albertus Magnus, Ambrosius, Augustinus, Bernardus, Bonaventura, Johannes Duns Scotus, Thomas Aquinas and others). And, of course, he also owned De Imitatione Christi, the famous work by Thomas à Kempis, edited by Sébastien Châteillon, but also the Lenten sermons by the notorious Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola of 1539. Among the heterodox or dissident authors in his library, Georgius Cassander stands out, along with Sébastien Châteillon (Castellio), Menno Simons, Dirk Philips, Caelius Secundus Curio and Caspar Coolhaes. Work by the prophet of the 'Huis der Liefde' ['Family of Love'] Hiël (Hendrik Janssen Barrefelt) will, however, not be found, although Rademacher did have two books by Hendrick Niclaes.
The linguistic interest of Radermacher, identified as the author of a draft of what can be said to be the oldest Dutch grammar, is also apparent from his possession of dictionaries and grammars in many languages. The literary Radermacher as we know him from the Album J. Rotarii, was obviously interested in the Ghent plays of 1539, in De Const van Rhetoriken by Matthijs de Castelein, in Marnix's Biencorf and in the psalm translations of both Marnix and Jan Utenhove. As regards French literature, he had Marot and Rabelais in his book case, but not the Pléiade poets.
The merchant Radermacher is interested in all kinds of accounting books: found were, among others, the 1565 Practique by Valentin Mennher and the Tariffe of 1572 by François Flory which contains a preliminary poem in French by Radermacher himself. He apparently also wanted to familiarise himself with the value of coins and with juridical works, such as Tractatus de Mercatura by Iurisperitus Mercator. He also acquired some published English laws and statutes. Because of his stay in England, he presumably intended to broaden his knowledge of the history of that country and more in particular of London where he had been a member of the Italian Church for a while. The number of books he owned in the Italian language is certainly impressive. Of course, we find Boccaccio's Decamerone and also work by Ariosto, Bembo, Dante, Petrarca and others, the Hypnerotomachia by Franceso Colonna of 1545, the fourth part of the Novelle by Bandello from 1539, work by Pietro Aretino and several works by Machiavelli. But among the Spanish books in this library, one will look in vain for an Amadís de Gaula or for work by Cervantes. The humanist Radermacher owned Homerus, Vergilius, Ovidius, Pindarus, Plinius, Callimachus, the Colloquia by Erasmus and also Dousa's philological work on Plautus.
The auction catalogue also provides decisive proof of Radermacher's activities as publisher in 1607. From Middelburg he arranged the printing and distribution of Michelangelo Florio's biography of Lady Jane Grey as is apparent from his letter of 1 March 1607 to Jacob Colius, the London silk merchant mentioned above. On p. 80 are listed as nos. 22 and 23 no less than 73 copies that had not yet found a buyer in 1634. Already mentioned are the 200 unsold copies of psalm 104 that we find on the same page in the catalogue that may well belong to the publishing activities of Radermacher's son Johan junior.
Where and with whom did Radermacher's books end up after the auction in 1634? Do they still exist? Systematic research is unfortunately not yet easily done as most catalogues do not mention provenance details found on flyleaves or title-pages. Only by accident can it be determined whether a book in a certain library has once belonged to Radermacher. Important to know is that Radermacher had the habit of using the motto 'In manibus Domini sortes meae'. He wrote those words on 18 June 1580 in the lost first part of his mother's bible. The same words can be found on the title-page of Otfridi Evangliorum (1571) which is held in Leiden University Library, shelfmark 1498 E 15. Also in Die Cronica van der hilliger Stat van Coellen (1499). This book once belonged to the Embden burgomaster Petrus Medmann and can now be found in the Stadsarchief en Athenaeumbibliotheek Deventer, shelfmark 33 D 12 KL. Perhaps more copies will be traced with the help of the Radermacher auction catalogue that Anna Simoni has unlocked for us. [And indeed more copies have been found, see this page (ms)]
- Album Joannis Rotarii (Johan Radermacher). Ed. K. Bostoen, C.A. Binnerts-Kluyver, C.J.E.J. Hattink and A.M. van Lynden-de Bruïne. 2002. DBNL
- Bostoen, K.: Kaars en bril: de oudste Nederlandse grammatica. [Middelburg], 1985. (Archief van het Koninklijk Zeeuwsch Genootschap der Wetenschappen, 1984).
- Bostoen, Karel: Bonis in bonum. Johan Radermacher de Oude (1538-1617), humanist en koopman. M.m.v. C.A. Binnerts-Kluyver, C.J.E.J. Hattink en A.M. van Lynden-de Bruïne. Hilversum: Verloren, 1998. (Zeven Provinciën Reeks, 15).
- Bostoen, Karel: 'Editing, printing, publishing and selling the life and death of Lady Jane Grey in 1607'. In: The bookshop of the world. The role of the Low Countries in the book-trade 1473-1941. Ed. L. Hellinga, A. Duke, J. Harskamp [a.o.]. Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2001, p. 119-130.
- Bremmer, Rolf H. Jr.: 'Constantijn Huyghens' interest in Old Germanic. A lost book from his library retrieved '. In: Living in posterity. Essays in honour of Bart Westerweel. Ed. J.F. van Dijkhuizen et al. Hilversum: Verloren, 2004, p. 39-45.
- ELBA = Ecclesiae Londino-Batavae Archivum. Ed. J.H. Hessels. Cantabrigiae, 1887-1897.
- Breugelmans, Ronald: Fac et spera, Joannes Maire, Publisher, Printer and Bookseller in Leiden 1603-1657. A Bibliography of his Publications. With a CD containing the images of the title-pages. Leiden, 2003.
- Grell, Ole Peter: 'Vroomheid en wereldsheid: Johan Radermacher (1538-1617), een humanistisch koopman van de hervormde diaspora'. In: Nederland in de wereld. Opstellen bij honderd jaar Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën. Den Haag: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 2002, p. 157-169. (Horizonreeks).
- Huizen in Nederland. Architectuurhistorische verkenningen aan de hand van het bezit van de Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser. Ed. R. Meischke, H.J. Zantkuijl, P.T.E.E. Rosenberg. Vol.3: Zeeland en Zuid-Holland. Zwolle: Waanders, 1997.
- Radermacher, J.: Het album J. Rotarii, Tekstuitgave van het werk [...] in het Album J. Rotari, Handschrift 2465 van de Centrale Bibliotheek van de Rijksuniversiteit te Gent. Met inleiding en commentaar door K. Bostoen. Met medewerking van C.A. Binnerts-Kluyver, C.J.E.J. Hattink en A.M. van Lynden-de Bruïne. Hilversum: Verloren, 1999.