Popular literature for Scherpenheuvel's pilgrims at the turn of the nineteenth century: a successful but underestimated component of P.J. Brepols's early career

In: Quaerendo
Author: Karen Lee Bowen
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P.J. Brepols (ca. 1778-1845), the founder of the Brepols publishing house, which is still active today, succeeded in establishing himself as a printer-publisher by focusing on the production of popular literature and prints and continually building up his clientele in the Netherlands. One lesser-known, but nonetheless important component of this initial publishing strategy and success are his editions pertaining to the devotion of the Virgin of Scherpenheuvel. In this article, I will focus on the popular devotional texts the Manier om godtvruchtelyk, en met profyt der zielen, te lezen het Heylig Roosen-kransken van Maria ... and Het nieuw Scherpenheuvels Trompetjen, editions of which were regularly printed by both Brepols and his contemporaries. Drawing upon an examination of extant copies of these books, as well as records of Brepols's business operations from ca. 1811 to ca. 1820, I will document the extent to which Brepols dominated the market for devotional publications for Scherpenheuvel, discuss his sales of these publications, and provide a detailed description of Brepols's editions of these texts in the concluding appendix. Although primarily a study of Brepols's publications, his approach to the printing and sale of these works offers an instructive example of how other printers in this period may have organized their operations.

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