Edmund Spenser


No publisher stated, Brussels, 1981


Designed and printed by Sem Hartz at De Tuinwijkpers, Haarlem, Netherlands, as a commission, it seems, from the Royal Court of Belgium.

Published in an unknown number of copies.


This little treasure, which I got at the same time as another item printed by Sem Hartz that I was desperately after (the Tuinwijkpers/Gruffyground The Phoenix and Turtle) is here for purely aesthetic reasons. The text – an extract from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, with a translation by Christine DHaen – is enjoyable enough, but what really makes this shine is its visual beauty. I guess this would have been the point, as it was commissioned for the occasion of Queen Beatrix’s 1981 visit to Belgium. As far as I have been able to find out, this seems to have been printed at the request of Dr Herman Liebaers, director general of the central Belgian Royal Library and Marshal of the Royal Household of the Royal Court of Belgium, with the Belgian Court requesting that Hartz present copies to both the Dutch and Belgian queens during Queen Beatrix’s visit. As such it clearly needed to be an attractive piece!

The printer, Sem Hartz, was, in addition to being a very fine typographer, printer and engraver, also a very talented type designer, as is shown here with the main text set in Emergo, his own proprietary typeface. It really is a most handsome font that sits well within the rich heritage of Dutch type design. The exquisite initials used inside are also particularly stunning, and their use alongside Emergo really make the pages shine.

Despite being a miniature with only a handful of pages, this is one of those items that I keep pulling from the shelf to gaze at, as each time I do I am taken by how much of a printed jewel it is.

Although the number of copies printed is unknown, I don’t suppose that there are that many given the circumstances of it’s printing!



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Test plano poem Edmund Spencer at the request of dr.Herman Liebaers translated by Christine d'Haen, printed by Sem Hartz on the occasion of Queen Beatrix's visit to her official visit to Belgium in 1981


It is not surprising that Hartz was given the honor to be invited to make a luxury book during a number of state visits, such as in 1954 for the French president René Coty. In 1981, at the request of the Belgian Court, he presented a printed printed matter to the Dutch and Belgian queens (**) at the state visit of Queen Beatrix to Belgium. For stamps, he portrayed Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana, the Princesses and President Soekarno in Jakarta.


(**) Dr.Herman Liebaers wrote about this in his autobiography 'Generally commissioned' (1982): 'The friendly association of Clark Stillman, Christine d'Haen, Sem Hartz and me led Sem Hartz to print Christine d. 'Haens has offered Dutch translation of the commission to Queen Elisabeth in Edmund Spencers' Fairie Queene 'in Brussels on the occasion of Queen Beatrix's visit to Belgium in 1981'. (p.147).