IMPOSITION BOOK -- VANDERSTRAELEN, Joannes Josephus Balthazar (fl. 1794-1831). Overslag-Boek, zeer nuttig voor alle liefhebbers der edele boekdruk-konste. [Antwerp], 1794-95.
4o (235 x 185 mm). AUTOGRAPH ILLUSTRATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER. Collation: A6 B-S4 T4(-4 blank) V6(-5 blank) text and diagrams of the format book; X-Z AA4 + 2 folded half-sheets (navigation tables) Eeuwig-duerenden Almanach, tables for determining Easter and other Holidays 1756-1903 by G.D. Pauw; BB4 (-4 blank) CC4 Almanach according to the French revolutionary calendar and Tafel of contents to the whole manuscript; DD4 (2-4 blank) Bemerking on the invention of printing, 2-page account of the Coster legend, also in Vanderstraelen's hand and dated 1831. Only the first two works are paginated: 162, 32 pp. Engraving of a printing press mounted on A1r, portrait of the Belgian typefounder Jacobus Franciscus Rosart mounted on A3v, woodcut of Zodiac Man and another astrological diagram mounted on CC2v, 1823 broadsheet Programma for the Coster quadricentenary (printed by Johannes Enschedé and sons in Haarlem) inserted with the final quire.
Binding: contemporary half vellum and sprinkled paper boards. Provenance: the author (typographical bookplate) -- Augustinus Cornelius Antonius Goossens (19th-century inscription) -- Antwerp, Capuchin Franciscans (stamps, library label) -- Bought from Offenbacher's stock in 1965, $475.
UNRECORDED MANUSCRIPT 'FORMAT BOOK', a specialized printer's manual of imposing type-pages for plano broadsides, 64o miniature books and all formats in between. The 122 full-page and 13 smaller diagrams treat inner and outer formes, full- and half-sheet imposition, divided sheets, oblong formats, multiple-sheet quiring, inserted leaves and the numerous complications with which the 18th-century journeyman may be confronted behind the imposing stone. The Dutch term "overslag" refers to the skipping in imposition of consecutive pages in order to obtain the correct sequence after the folding and/or cutting of the worked-off sheet. The half-title, general title and divisional titles are framed with watercolor borders, the chases locked around the formes of arranged pages are represented in brown and grey wash. The frontispiece diagram shows the lay of the type-case. The diagrams and explanatory text are occasionally interspersed with pages of arithmetic calculations and notes on current events such as French troop movements (occupation of Antwerp) and Revolutionary events (guillotining of the Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and the death in prison of Louis XVII).
The practical almanacs and Revolutionary calendar tables, as well as the author's bookplate, seem to indicate that the manual was written by Vanderstraelen for his own use, while his note on Coster added in 1831 shows that it remained in his possession throughout his working life. He was no doubt a practising typographer in Antwerp. His relation Johannes Baptista van der Straelen published on the history of typography in two historical works: Jaerboek der vermaerde Gilde van Sint Lucas binnen Antwerpen (1855) and Geslagt-lyste der nakomelingen van Christoffel Plantin (1858).
The Hauck manuscript is an important discovery, as no other Dutch printer's manual or imposition-book from before the 19th century has survived. J.W. Enschedé saw a manuscript imposition-book, Letterzetters Luywagen 1761, by the Middelburg typographer Sigismund Matthaeus, but it is now presumed lost. In 1982 (2nd ed. 1986) Frans Janssen, the leading authority on the subject, published the earliest known comprehensive Dutch manual, by David Wardenaar (1801), and in 1986 Zweijgardt's De Boekdrukkerij (1822), then thought to be the oldest surviving Dutch imposition-book. The earliest format manuals were German, dating from the early 17th century onwards, and they have twice formed the subject of study: Elisabeth Geck, "Deutsche Formatbücher des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts" in: Refugium, Festschrift for Albert Kolb (Wiesbaden 1969) pp. 256-267; and Martin Boghardt, "Typographische Lehrbücher" in: Philobiblon 27 (1983) pp. 5-57.