Het echte Oud-Hollandse ornaprentenboek
HET ECHTE OUD-HOLLANDSE ORNAPRENTENBOEK
The colophon contains a dialogue on the genesis of this exceptional book. ‘One day I opened a cabinet containing a large, little-used font and what did I see there? A man in a bowler hat.’
These are the words of Henk van Otterloo, at the time a notary public and private printer. In the colophon Van Otterloo addresses ‘his factotum’ Ton van Zuilen, a pseudonym of the Utrecht artist J.H. Moesman. ‘But Ton, this is not what these ornaments are for, is it? They are actually meant for making nice little borders!’
In old fonts there are usually various ornaments – decorative borders, little pointing hands, four-leaf clovers and so on – with which with a little bit of imagination you can make all kinds of small figures, such as ‘a man in a bowler hat.’ ‘Ton’ had been doing this, and he continued to do so at the request of Van Otterloo.
All in all, over a period of six years, they prepared and produced nine prints, the type matter of which is composed of dozens of ornaments. We see for instance a portrait of Laurens Jansz. Coster, a mermaid and an exhibition of paintings. The prints were collected into a little book entitled Het echte Oud-Hollandse ornaprentenboek tot lering ende vermaak voor margebedrukkers en andere knutselaars met afgedankt zetmateriaal gezet. [The genuine Old-Dutch ornapicturebook typeset from discarded type material for the education and enjoyment of private press printers and other hobbyists]. It was printed on 19th-century paper and published in 1982 by Van Otterloo’s Green Escape Press in an edition of 100 copies.
In the early eighties printing techniques changed drastically, and Moesman and Van Otterloo realized that ‘now that everything is done photo-mechanically’ their donkey-work might no longer be recognised as handmade. This is why they had their technique recorded in a legal deed, which was also signed by Dick Bruna.
Nevertheless, the typographic material has also been preserved. It was transferred to the Museum Meermanno in 2006. In order to be able to exhibit the fragile type and display it carefully, the museum had special wooden storage boxes made.