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 VIII.
FROBEN OF BASEL. 1460-1528.

JOHANN FROBEN, who achieved a well-deserved reputation as one of the most enlightened and enterprising publishers of the sixteenth century, and who will be remembered as having been honoured with the friendship and confidence of Erasmus, was born in 1460, in Hammelburg, a village in Franconia. He studied in the University of Basel (which had been founded the year before his birth), and achieved distinction as a scholar in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He was trained as type- setter and press-corrector by the famous printer Amerbach, and thus equipped, he secured citizenship in Basel in 1490, and in the following year began business in his own name as a master printer and publisher. Gutenberg had been dead for twenty years, but the business established by Fust and Schöffer with the original Gutenberg plant (representing the earliest printing concern in Europe) was still being carried on by the son of Schöffer. The work of Caxton, which had been begun in Bruges in 1470, had, in 1474, been transferred to London, and closed with his death in 1492, the year in which Aldus Manutius began his printing operations in Venice. In Paris the leading typographer of the town was Badius, the predecessor of the more famous Estiennes.

At the time Froben began his work, the methods of

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