Exhibitions in the Embassy of the Free Mind




Hand bookbinder Geert van Daal (1941) has been making bookbindings and luxury cases since 1983 for the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica collection that has been brought together by Joost R. Ritman. The materials he uses are luxury leather types, parchment and marbled papers mainly made by himself. A renowned manual gilder, he exclusively uses 23 carat gold for the decorations. His work has won him awards at home and abroad. In the next few months we present some 100 magnificent bookbindings and cartonnages, made especially by Geert van Daal for the BPH, for other collectors and for himself. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue in Dutch.

The exhibition will run from 28 September until 24 November 2018.



More photos of the opening of the exhibition may be viewed on our Facebook page



During a special meeting in the monumental 17th-century town mansion the House with the Heads on 13 June, Esther Ritman, director of the Embassy of the Free Mind, and Bart Laming, chairman of the Stichting Boek van Oranje, opened an exhibition of an extraordinary book published in 1559 that once belonged to William of Orange, Father of the Fatherland. The binding bears the supralibros of the Prince. Long concealed in private collections, the book was discovered at an auction in 2006. This personal copy of William the Silent, as he was also known, is the only copy of this magnificent edition still in private hands. The well-preserved and pristine copy is of immeasurable value. The book will be on display in the museum on Keizersgracht 123 in Amsterdam through the end of August.

Bart Laming, chairman Stichting Boek van Oranje: “The Prince’s copy of the book was long hidden from view in private collections. The published translation and the exhibition make it accessible to a large public. Everyone can now experience the enchantment of the book, just as Stadholder William of Orange, Father of the Fatherland himself did.”

Facsimile edition with a new Dutch translation
The exhibition is organized to mark the launch of a facsimile edition with a new Dutch translation entitled De droom van Poliphile. The Prince of Orange owned a copy of the second edition in French, published in 1554, of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili originally published in a curious language in Venice in 1499.

Presentation of the first copy
The first copy was presented to Jelle Koopmans, Senior Lecturer in Romance Languages and Literature at the University of Amsterdam and chief editor of the translation project. A team of three Dutch and three Belgian translators have worked for two years on the translation, which is intended to be read, and above all appreciated, by a wide public. Stichting Boek van Oranje published the translation to fund with the proceeds of the edition the acquisition of this piece of Dutch heritage and permanently transfer it to a museum or cultural institution. The layout of the translation is based on the Poliphile font type and follows the original’s unique typography. The story is illustrated with prints from the original 181 woodcuts. The facsimile is printed in a large folio format and is bound in a faux leather binding that features the Orange coat of arms. The special edition is available in the museum shop and in bookshops at 99 Euro. (ISBN: 9789 08208 7307).

Books from the private library of Stadholder William of Orange have never before been exhibited in public. This book is now presented to the public for the first time in the Embassy of the Free Mind. The new facsimile edition in French and in Dutch can be browsed on the spot, offering visitors a window into the Prince’s reading.

Prime Minister of England
Twenty copies of this edition have been preserved, five of which are in the Netherlands, including this copy. The other fifteen copies are in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. This is the only privately owned copy, which in 1690 was still part of the library of Robert Harley, who rose to become Prime Minister under Queen Anne. It was sold in 1743 and later appeared at auction in London (1938), New York (1951) and Paris (2006). The present Dutch owner bought the book at this latter auction.

The Year of The Silent
The Prince of Orange bought Le Songe de Poliphile in Paris in 1559 at the age of 26 as he was briefly staying at the court of Henry II. As they were out hunting, the French King privately told him of a secret agreement with the Spanish King Philip II to crush the heresy in the Netherlands. William concealed his disgust at the news, which partly earned him his later epithet, ‘The Silent’.

The Eighty Years’ War
On the eve of the Eighty Years’ War in 1567 the Prince left his castle in Breda to continue his battle against the Spanish King from Dillenburg, taking with him his favourite book. After his assassination in 1584 his library was completely dispersed, among others by family members.

Dream Story
At the time it was published, Le Songe de Poliphile acquired a cult following, due also to the erotic descriptions. The anonymous author, whose name is concealed in an acrostic, demonstrates his knowledge of occult matters throughout the story. The protagonist of the book, Poliphile, dreams he is lost in a dark forest. He has a long road ahead of him, actually a complex path of initiation, which will eventually lead him to his beloved, Polia. Together with her he visits the palace and the fountain of Venus. Poliphile ponders at length on the pyramids, doors, columns and obelisks he encounters on his journey. He wanders through beautifully laid out gardens, takes his time admiring curious statues (such as an elephant carrying an obelisk on its back), fountains, and allegorical animals. He reads lengthy epitaphs and stops to study enigmatic hieroglyphs. On his way he encounters nymphs, satyrs, gods and mythological figures.

Esther Ritman, director of The Embassy of the Free Mind: “The book recounts a love story which still appeals today and at the same time derives vital lessons from an allegorical description of Classical Antiquity.”


The Embassy of the Free Mind
House with the Heads 
Keizersgracht 123 
1015 CJ Amsterdam 

Open Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00-17:00

For more information 
The Embassy of the Free Mind
Boris de Munnick, Press & Publicity 
06 22 978 444 
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Original title: Discours Du Songe De Poliphile
Translated under the editorship of Dr. Jelle Koopmans
Published by Stichting Boek van Oranje
Bound edition identical to the binding of William of Orange
Binding: sewn and bound
Font: Poliphile
Paper: Rives Laid Vergé (90gr/m2)
Original folio format: (335 x 222mm) 334 pages
First published June 2018 in a special limited edition
ISBN 9789 08208 7307 Price 99 Euro