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Wednesday 18 April 2018

Crispijn de Passe the Elder’s engraving (with etching), “Ball Game”, 1617

Crispijn de Passe the Elder (aka Crispin Van de Passe; Crispin De Passe) (1564–1637) 

“Ball Game”, 1617, plate 14 from the series of 50 plates (including the frontispiece) published in “Nieuwen ieucht spieghel” (1617) by an unidentified author (see to download the publication).

Engraving with etching on fine laid paper with small margins, backed and remargined with a support sheet.
Size: (remargined support sheet) 29.8 x 31.5 cm; (sheet) 11.7 x 16.1 cm; (plate) 10.1 x 14.5 cm; (image borderline) 8.8 x 14.3 cm

Veldman (2001) 16 (Ilja M Veldman 2001, “Crispijn de Passe and his Progeny (1564-1670): A century of Print Production”, Sound & Vision Publ., Rotterdam, p. 167, n. 16, fig. 53);
See also the online discussion about this print at Emblem Project Utrecht:
See also the frontispiece to the series at the Rijksmuseum:

Inscribed on plate below the image borderline in two lines of Latin text in two columns: “Cursitat manusque pedesque iuuenta fatigat, / Spheram percutiens atque reprecutiens. // Sanguinis est ea vis nempe in iuuenilibus annis: /’Gratior atque isthac fit ratione cibus.
(Google transl. “Youth and runs a hand and foot troubles, / The sphere will, and he smote the reprecutiens. // The force of the blood in young years; / Be more pleasing, and looks ahead occur by reason of the food.”)

Condition: richly inked and well-printed impression (undoubtedly a lifetime impression based on the strength of the printed lines and the still visible guidelines for the lettered text) with small margins, remargined with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, stains or foxing, but there is minor age toning and light handling marks).

I am selling this small and rare print showing a 17th century game with a balloon for AU$175 in total (currently US$136.26/EUR109.93/GBP95.83 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing superb print of an early sporting event, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

When I began my research into this remarkable engraving, I was misguided by the title given by a website selling reproductions of it: “Spectators watch a game of football” (see I soon discovered that the game illustrated was not about football at all but rather a game with a balloon … although I must admit the balloon shown here must be a ruggedly strong one as the participants in the game all have protective covering on their right hands!

Thanks to the links provided by the online website, “Emblem Project Utrecht” ( I found that balloons held emblematic meanings at the time that this print was executed. For example, balloons may be an object for play to be battered around from one person to the next as shown here, but “they may also be emblematic for the spirit of prevailing against external forces (i.e. “standing one’s ground”). In Daniel de la Feuille’s (1691) emblem book, “Devises and Emblems”, for instance, the illustration, “Un Balon” is captioned (in translation):  “The more I am beaten, the more I rise.”

Regarding the meanings underpinning this particular balloon being battered around, the symbolism takes de la Feuille’s noble virtues of resistance and perseverance a step forward—or at least a step into everyday reality. What I mean by this is that from my reading of the inscribed text beneath the image, the chaps shown engaged in the game are ignoring the dangers of what is described as “hand and foot troubles” by “the force of the blood [of their] young years” sensing that after the game they can look “ahead … [to] food.”

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