New Acquisitions in Renaissance printing

The L. Tom Perry Special Collections has a long history of collecting the output of the major French humanist printers of the 16th century. Our vaults hold extensive collections of the work of the Estienne (Stephanus) family, Simon de Colines, Josse Badius Ascencius, and Christophe Plantin. These printers helped spread Renaissance and humanist learning throughout Europe, most often through the output of their printing presses, but sometimes through their own work as scholars and textual editors. They issued Greek and Latin texts in new, updated editions based on recently-discovered manuscripts. They also printed new works by scholars across Europe in many subjects, including Biblical studies, language and literature, medicine, and science. Special Collections actively acquires examples of these printers’ works with an eye to documenting their impact on European history and culture as well as the history of printing and typography.

This post features a few recent acquisitions: first, two examples printed by Simon de Colines (whose press was active in Paris, 1520-1546). Colines likely studied at the University of Paris and worked at the press of Henri Estienne. When Estienne died in 1520, Colines married his widow and assumed management of the press until the oldest Estienne son, Robert, could take over the family business. Colines then set up his own shop nearby and continued to establish his stepsons in the printing trade.

Colines’ “Satyr” pressmark on the title page of an edition of Lucan, 1528.

The 1528 edition of Lucan was the first book printed in Colines’ italic typeface.

Illustrated title page of Bovillus’ Liure singulier & vtile touchant l’art et pratique de geometrie (Colines, 1542).

Next, two new acquisitions from the press of Christophe Plantin (active 1545-1589). French-born Plantin apprenticed as a bookbinder, setting up shop in Paris in 1545. In 1548, he moved the major commercial center of Antwerp, and quickly gained acclaim as a binder. He expanded his business to publishing, printing, and typefounding. Plantin’s books found markets in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Title page to a Dutch-French-Latin dictionary edited and printed by Plantin between 1567 and 1573.

A page spread from Rembert Dodoens’ “Stirpium historiae” printed by Plantin in 1583. This botanical work features extensive woodcuts by Flemish artist Pieter van der Borcht.

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