Le Manuel des Marchans moult utile a trestous. Ghent: Pierre Cesar pour Victor le Dayn, 1545.
16o (109 x 72 mm). 64 leaves, Gothic letter, printed in red and black. Title with large woodcut printer's device, numerous woodcuts of coins. Contents: Title-page, Calendar, Golden Rule, and a complete list of Annual Fairs, with the towns where they are held occupy the first 11 leaves, followed by 52 leaves containing woodcuts of large and small coins (2 to 8 on a page), final leaf with colophon on verso. This copy is bound with additional material as follows: front flyleaf of vellum CONTAINING A FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATED COAT-OF-ARMS OF THE DUTCH NOBEL FAMILY DE BRUYN, followed by a quire of six paper leaves, CONTAINING THREE FINE FULL-PAGE LATE 16TH-CENTURY FLEMISH WATERCOLORS: two of ships in full sail, the other a pastoral scene of a bridge above a river, the remainder blank. Following this quire are 12 leaves of heavily coated paper for the purposes of memoranda using a silver stylus, which would presumably hold closed the clasps on the binding (not present). Following the printed text at end is another quire of six leaves EACH CONTAINING A FINE WATERCOLOR DRAWING OF FLOWERS OR INSECTS, the first shows an ear of wheat surrounded by a scroll bearing a Dutch motto, dated 1599.
Binding: Late-16th century, purple velvet over bevelled wooden boards, silver and niello cornerpieces, clasps and catches, and centerpieces (each containing the De Bruyn coat-of-arms and motto: "in via virtute nulla est via"), THE FRONT PASTEDOWN CONTAINS AN INSET GOLD COMPASS AND DIAL, SIGNED ON THE FRAME BY THE GOLDSMITH B.V. DER CLOESEN. Below the compass is an empty oval gold-framed inset panel, which may have contained a miniature portrait of the owner. The pastedown is hand-painted in colors and embellished with six inset semi-precious stones. The rear pastedown is similarly decorated and with inset panels WHICH CONTAIN A PAIR OF HANDSCALES IN STERLING SILVER FOR WEIGHING SMALL PRECIOUS MATERIALS (with hallmark). Holding the scales in place in their receptacles is A LARGE ENGRAVED GOLD PLATE, FINELY DECORATED ON THE OUTSIDE WITH AN ALLEGORICAL SCENE SHOWING PEACE AND JUSTICE, SIGNED BY THE ENGRAVER "F.B.", and on the other side a table of weights and measures in Dutch. Inlaid morocco folding case.
Provenance: The De Bruyn family in Holland (binding, illuminated coat-of-arms on front flyleaf, and various inscriptions recording deaths in the De Bruyn and Boot families from 1609-1813 on notation leaves preceding printed text). The volume came into the Boot family through the marriage of Catherine De Bruyn to Dutch merchant, Johan Boot -- purchased from Emil Offenbacher, 15 November 1954.
A REMARKABLE 16TH-CENTURY MERCHANT'S HANDBOOK, BOUND AND ELABORATELY ENHANCED FOR THE USE OF A MEMBER OF THE DUTCH NOBLE FAMILY DE BRUYN. Bibles, Books of Hours, and similar devotional works prepared for wealthy individuals are a comparatively common occurance; but manuals for practical use are of much greater rarity, particularly when they are so richly designed. The De Bruyn merchant manual reflects the heights of the Dutch merchant-banker class of the late-16th century.