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Pembroke College : Album Amicorum of Abraham Ortelius

Pembroke College

<p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Foreword</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This book, an early autograph or 'commonplace book', is one of Pembroke Library’s most valuable and beautiful treasures. It has been digitized to safeguard it for future generations and to make it more widely available. This superb album comprises contributions (signatures, inscriptions, poems, drawings, engravings, coats of arms) to the renowned Flemish cartographer, geographer and antiquary Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) from a distinguished and international group of his friends. The contributions were gathered over a number of years and more than 130 of his contemporaries are represented. The list of friends includes <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(234);return false;'>William Camden</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(236);return false;'>Gerhard Mercator</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(153);return false;'>Christopher Plantin</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(156);return false;'>Justus Lipsius</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(185);return false;'>John Dee</a> and many others. Some of the contributions appear to have been written into the album, often on pages prepared by an illustrator with elaborate and handsome decorative borders; others were separately prepared or sent and subsequently laid down. Some are on paper, others on vellum. The album has been solidly rebound and is now in modern full green morocco. It has a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(2);return false;'>bookplate</a> reading 'Ex Dono Ricardi Atwood AM' but Wren’s catalogue indicates that the donor was Thomas Stanley (1625-1678), the poet, classical scholar, and historian of philosophy.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This is a volume of pre-eminent national and international importance. Each individual contribution to the album is of interest. Taken together they comprise a rich and highly significant compendium of the scholarly, cultural and religious life of the Low Countries in the sixteenth century. A facsimile edition was published in 1969 (with translations into French, and reproducing the pages in black and white). In 2015 Dr Marcel van den Broecke published his book, <i>Abraham Ortelius 1527-1598: life, works, sources and friends</i> (Bilthoven: Cartographica Neerlandica, 2015), which contains a very useful description of the images.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The Album Amicorum, and its <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(30);return false;'>reference to Breughel</a> , formed part of the plot in Michael Frayn’s novel, <i>Headlong</i> , published in 1999. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Patricia Aske, Pembroke College, Cambridge</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Introduction</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>'Friendship Books' or 'Alba Amicorum' or 'Festschrifts' originate from Wittenberg in Germany in the early part of the 16th century. Dutch Alba Amicorum have been described in detail by Thomassen. They are still a popular way to honour academic professionals at the end of their career by offering them a collection of essays in their own or related fields.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Abraham Ortelius' friendship book was by no means the first in his own circle of friends. Although he never studied at university, he had many academically trained friends. His contacts also included artists such as Johannes Vivianius, with whom he would make a journey in 1575 described in the Itinerarium of 1584. Vivianus began collecting contributions for his own Album Amicorum in 1570 to which Ortelius made a contribution in 1571. When Ortelius was inscribed in the register of St. Luke, the guild of the artists, his profession was described as colourist of maps. The Album Amicorum of Abraham Ortelius is first referred to by Hessels (page liii-lvi) as follows:</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>'The Library of Pembroke College, Cambridge possesses the Album Amicorum of Ortelius, which in 1594 he seems to have presented to his nephew Jacobus Colius, but later additions occur. There is no record as to when and through whom Pembroke College finally obtained it. It has to all appearance been rebound in the last twenty of thirty years before its discovery and the binder has considerably damaged its margins.'</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In Hessels there then follows a very shorthand description of its contents, page by page. In the booklet this is followed by an index of 7 pages arranged according to the praenomina of the writers, and written by Jacobus Colius, who has added: 'Finis 26 Jan. 1596. Antwerpiae. hunc Ind[icem] scripsi Jac. Colius Ort[elianus]' (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(257);return false;'>126r</a>. This is followed by a page by page description, including those that have been left blank. Hessels concludes by observing that the final list of contributors has been composed by Jacobus Colius, and that some names were added afterwards between the lines or at the bottom of the page. At this time, the booklet had 247 pages of contributions on 124 sheets of paper, which at some probably early stage were bound as a booklet and to which the index written by Jacobus Colius was added. As Hessels also notes, at some point the booklet was rebound, the pagination disappeared mostly, and some contributions by authors mentioned in the index disappeared from the booklet, notably Jean Bodin, Joannes Woverius, Jan Moretus, Johann Georg von Werdenstein, Gerartus Hasselt, Joachim Margenrode and Theodor and Cornelis Galle.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The Album Amicorum first appeared as a facsimile with a translation in French, edited by Jean Puraye in 1967-1968 as issues 45 and 46 of 'De Gulden Passer', and later in 1969 as a book published by Van Gendt, Amsterdam. The quality of its transcriptions, translations and reproductions has generally been qualified as insufficient. Joost Depuydt in his excellent analysis notes that Colius numbered all pages of the Album except the first four sheets [p. I-VIII] and the index itself [pp. 254-260]. Both Hessels and Puraye disregarded this. The original pagination cannot be viewed in all places, but can be reconstructed on the basis of the index. Colius made some mistakes while paginating: after page 12, he forgot to paginate one page, so that a left page became page 13. He repaired his mistake by numbering two successive pages 103. In Puraye the next page is blank, but we cannot be sure of this, since blank pages have generally not been reproduced by Puraye. Depuydt was also the first to note that the table of contents of the Album Amicorum shows that a number of authors in the Album, alphabetised by their first name, as was usual at the time, are not included in the booklet itself, but only in the final table. Depuydt also noted that some contributions in the final table are mentioned for two pages, but in fact only occur on one page, so that one page was removed in each of such cases: viz. Joris Hoefnagel, Lucas Copus, Clemens Perret, Emmanuel van Meteren, Marcus Gheeraarts and Otto Vaenius. Clearly, these removals took place before Hessels first described the contents of the Album since Hessels’ description is the same as what is shown on the CDRom issued by Pembroke College, Cambridge. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Joan Winterkorn</p>

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