Books and Their Makers during the Middle Ages: A Study of the Conditions of the Production and Distribution of Literature from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Close of the Seventeenth Century - Vol. 2

By George Haven Putnam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI.
THE HOUSE OF PLANTIN. 1555-1650.

THE House established in Antwerp, in 1555, by Christophe Plantin secured for itself high distinction among the printer-publishers of the century, and, as well for the beauty and importance of the productions of its presses, as by reason of the exceptional length of its history as a business concern, it must always hold an honourable place in the record of the great publishers of the world. Plantin's work as a pioneer was, however, not so difficult, so distinctive, or so important as that of several of his great predecessors, such as Aldus, Badius, Estienne, or Froben. At the time Plantin printed his first book, in 1555, a century had elapsed since the Press of Gutenberg had begun its work, and the technical difficulties which had beset the earlier printers had been very largely overcome; publishing machinery had been created, and methods for the distribution of books had been arrived at; while the scholars of the universities had learned to utilise their attainments for editorial work, and fairly trustworthy texts of the greater number of the world's classics were already available in printed form for the use of the compositors in the preparation of later and possibly improved editions.

Unlike many of his famous predecessors and contemporaries among the publishers, Plantin laid no claim to

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