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The oldest Dutch commercial œuvre lists in print

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Book lists in early books are a well-known phenomenon. Yet they have still received little scholarly attention. In this article, one particular type is named, classified, and its origins and early history investigated: the commercial oeuvre list. This is a list of all available books written, translated, or edited by the author of the publication in which the list appears, and commercially issued by the relevant publisher. As a result of this last attribute, the list also came to function as an announcement of forthcoming publications. Properly considered, the commercial oeuvre list formed an entirely new development in the advertising technique of the book trade: the reader elevated from purchaser to a determining factor for the advertisement. The first to make use of such a list was the Amsterdam publisher Marten Jansz Brandt. In 1622, he issued the earliest known commercial oeuvre list. It concerned the popular and prolific writer, Willem Teellinck, father of the Dutch Reformed pietist movement, the Further Reformation. Given the concordance between the anthropological leanings of Teellinck's writings and the user-friendliness of the new form of advertising, it is no surprise to find them linked. At any rate, Brandt aimed at a specific reading-public: that of the pietist readers. Over a period of more than forty years, no less than fifteen lists appeared concerned with Teellinck's works. The longest contained 53 items. This long duration and large number of lists and items make it possible to study the various developments of the commercial oeuvre list in the first period of its existence. It turns out that the content was regularly updated up to and including the tenth list (1647) in accordance with what was in stock, and a reprint was introduced as soon as an edition was sold out. Brandt was responsible for eight of the fifteen known lists. The publishers Anthony de Later in Vlissingen and Theunis Jacobszoon Lootsman in Amsterdam followed his example in 1632 and 1647 respectively. For all three, when they first introduced commercial lists of Teellinck's works, it was a case of wanting to become his regular publisher. In other words, behind such lists were not only booksellers' but also publishers' interests. Oeuvre lists serve as trustworthy evidence to identify an author, translator, or editor of anonymous or pseudonymous publications. They therefore demand an intensive and far-reaching study. The register of book lists in books at the STCN office of the Royal Library, The Hague, recently made accessible, can therefore be of great service. That three of the fifteen lists examined - including the oldest! - are known only from copies in private hands, indicates in addition that these locations can't be left out of consideration in future research.


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