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Thomas vander Noot en zijn Spieghel der behoudenessen (c. 1508)

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This article, in which the author describes a Brussels post-incunabulum in all its details and from all angles, complements the article to appear in the Liber amicorum Herman Liebaers (at press), in which the text and its author are discussed. The didactic moralizing poem Den Spieghel der behoudenessen by the Brussels rhetorician [rederijker] Jan Smeken - whose name appears in an acrostic in the text- was printed by Thomas vander Noot in Brussels in about 1508. Only one copy is known to have survived, and is now in the unversity library in Hamburg, but there the trail ends. The paper has no watermark and is of inferior quality. The text is abundantly decorated with woodcuts, which were not chosen at random but purposely made or selected for the job. The ten large ones are intended as illustration of the text, without which they are meaningless. The twenty smaller ones serve as a guide in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ; the illustrated episodes from the Passion generally go together with two prototypes from the Old Testament. The Speculum Humanae Salvationis, which was known in several Latin and Dutch editions at the beginning of the sixteenth century, was almost certainly known to the author of the Spieghel. The cutter of the large blocks took advantage of the circumstance that the same block could be used several times as a frame for a varying number of smaller blocks which could be fitted into the larger block as an insert and could later be removed. The repeated use of one block, sometimes on one sheet, sometimes at various places in a single gathering, was a factor which the printer had to allow for in the imposition of the pages. Some pages have too much or too little text, without any sign of a way of remedying the defect. These last two observations lead to the conclusion that the text was very probably set forme by forme.


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