Ambix | 8 Aug 2017
The late Lode Van den Branden spend thirteen years systematically searching the archives for documents related to the Antwerp book trade of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, discovering new information on booksellers, printers, compositors, proof-readers, engravers, type cutters, type founders, and bookbinders. A great part of this material, now in the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels, has yet to be studied, including his work on Willem Silvius. Guided by Van den Branden’s findings, this article focuses on the period 1562-1567 in order to contextualise the collaboration between Silvius and John Dee in January 1564 which resulted in the Monas Hieroglyphica. Documents include Silvius’s requests to the Privy Counsel for privileges, not only for books he published but also for several that he did not. A detailed inventory of his holdings, made after his arrest in 1567, allows us to reconstruct the plan of his bookshop, The Golden Angel, and its stock, including unsold copies of the Monas. These documents show why Silvius was the ideal choice of printer for the Monas, and allow us to envisage the space within which it was printed and sold.
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