The Estiennes

One of the most distinguished families of printers in 16th century Europe was the Estiennes. Henri Estienne I was a printer and bookseller who was active in Paris from 1502-20.  His sons Robert and François carried on the family legacy, printing in Paris and Geneva, as did his grandsons. In fact, there were Estiennes printing books well into the mid-seventeenth century.

What makes the Estienne family stand out from other printers of the same period? Nicolas Barker notes that they united “qualities of scholarship and good printing with a determined and individual approach that did mark them out from their contemporaries in a way clearly visible” both in their own time and to modern observers (in Schreiber, The Estiennes: An annotated catalogue of 300 highlights of their various presses. New York, 1982, p. 2).

Special Collections owns over 500 books published by various generations of the Estienne family. This image is from a copy of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History printed by Robert Estienne I (1503-1559) in 1544. Robert I was a prominent classical and biblical scholar and also served as the royal Printer in Greek. The font of Greek type used in this book was cut by Claude Garamond.

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