Elzevir, Louis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Elzevir, Louis

Louis Elzevir (ĕl´zəvər, –vēr), 1540–1617, Dutch printer and bookseller, whose name also appeared as Elsevier or Elzevier. He produced his first book at Leiden in 1583. Under his descendants, the business was continued until 1791. In its best years it was easily the greatest publishing business in the world. The Elzevirs were typically neither printers nor scholars but businessmen. They owned presses and type and employed good editors and printers. Their books were legible and inexpensive. Many of the Elzevir books were printed by family members in their establishments at Leiden, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague, but many books were printed for the Elzevirs by other printers. Family owned and operated agencies were established in numerous cities, from Denmark to Italy. The Elzevir types are typically legible and sturdy, rather than elegant, and the books tended to be of small size with narrow margins. The texts were usually in Latin, though the family printed and published books in Greek, French, and other languages. Louis's son Bonaventure Elzevir, 1583–1652, and his grandson Abraham Elzevir, 1592–1652, continued and expanded the business. A famous designer of types employed by the Elzevirs was Christopher van Dyck. Roman type such as he designed, known in England and America as "old style" type, is known in Europe as "Elzevir" type.

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