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The Collation

An argent lion rampant: coats of arms in 17th-c. books

In recent months, the Folger Shakespeare Library added a rare emblem book to its holdings, a thin quarto bound in pasteboards holding 24 unnumbered leaves . The emblem book presents itself as a “new year’s gift” containing 13 engravings: one coat of arms and twelve emblems executed by the prolific engraver Frederik Bouttats. 1 The author of the text is a Jesuit who remains anonymous.

Title page of the 1658 emblem book. The printer’s device of printer Cornelis Woons, the “golden star”, is hand-coloured. Folger 267921, fol. π1 recto.

Title page of the 1658 emblem book. The printer’s device of printer Cornelis Woons, the “golden star,” is hand-colored. (fol. π1r)

The book was produced in 1658 by the Antwerp printer Cornelis Woons, who was active in that city between 1645 and 1673, the year of his death. Woons was a productive printer: the Short Title Catalogue Flanders currently lists 147 titles that refer to him. At least one of those titles is a false imprint: a 1686 edition mentioning his name appeared 13 years after his death and probably has a northern origin, as it discusses the reasons why the reformed faith should be—“according to its own foundations”—untrue to God. 2 The fact that Woons’s name became a method of obfuscation for works with sensitive content can be considered an indirect marker for his success. 

  1. It is not clear whether this series should be ascribed to Frederik I or Frederik II, both of whom were active in this period.
  2. See
  3. In this copy, (part of?) the first unsigned gathering π4 seems to be lacking; see Charles Matagne, Répertoire des ouvrages du XVIIe siècle de la bibliothèque du C.D.R.R. (1651–1700), tome 1. A–L. Namur: Centre de Documentation et de Recherche Religieuses, 1992, p. 781, no. T316.
  4. See Catalogue d’une belle et très-remarquable collection de livres […] délaissés par M. Luc-Joseph van Crombrugghe, en son vivant vice-curé de l’église de S. Michel à Gand. Dont la vente publique aura lieu dans la maison mortuaire […] le 25 avril 1825. Gand (1825).
  5. See the annotated copy of the auction catalog, digitized by the Google Books project. Call number: Ghent University Library, G.15863.
  6. See Jaerboeken van het souvereine gilde der kolveniers, busschieteres en kanonniers gezegd hoofdgilde van Sint Antone, te Gent, ed. Ferd. Vanderhaeghen, Gent 1867, vol. 2, p. 237, where he is mentioned as a member of the guild from 1805 until, at least, 1816, when he was treasurer of the guild. The Jaerboeken are also available through the DBNL website.
  7. The color of the lion is rather dark, but it is confirmed by the lack of hatching, indicating the metal argent (silver in heraldic terms). The field is vertically hatched, thus confirming the color gules (or red) in the system developed by the Louvain engraver and printer Jan Baptist Zangrius. For an overview of the different hatching systems used in the 17th century, see:
  8. Because some editions combine two or three features, the percentages do not add up.


The first thing to be said about the coat of arms on a lozenge depending from a ribbon is that it belonged to a woman. The semee of 5-foils field would be appropriate to a British coat, and it is worth looking in Papworth’s Ordinary of Arms where the only corresponding coat is

Gules semy of 5-foils and a lion rampant Argent Grace of London

John Blatchly — June 25, 2014


Dear John,


I knew that the lozenge form refers to a woman, but not being a specialist of coats of arms, I did not dare to go into any further identification at this stage. Thanks for the suggestion!

Best wishes,


Goran Proot — June 25, 2014


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