From Gutenberg to Gregynog
Each century since the invention of printing has had its master printers and important presses. Beginning with Gutenberg and the Incunabular period, this exhibition will point out some of these significant printers and illustrate each with an example from his press. Items chosen are included not for their texts, although they too are important, but rather for their appearance or typography and as examples of printing. While other volumes printed may be of more importance we have resisted the temptation to include any facsimiles or reprints and have exhibited only original editions.
15th C E N T U R Y: The birth of printing or the Incunabular Age begins naturally with JOHANN GUTENBERG (one leaf from the 42 line Bible). Important in Germany was ANTON KOBERGER (Rationale divinorum officiorum of Drantis, 1494) and in Italy, NICHOLAS JENSON (Thomas Aquinas. Summa catholicae fidei contra Gentiles, 1480). In England the first printer was WILLIAM CAXTON (a leaf from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales of 1478) who was succeeded by WYNKYN DE WORDE (a leaf from The Golden legend of Jacobus de Varagine, 1498).
16th C E N T U R Y: Printing spread rapidly across Europe. ALDUS MANUTIUS printed his small editions in Venice (Juvenalis. Persuis, 1501). The ESTIENNE FAMILY in Paris became known for careful editing and accuracy (Jean Calvin. Defensio orthodoxae fidei, 1554). In Antwerp CHRISTOPHER PLANTIN established a press which was to continue in operation for over 300 years (Robert Doedens. De sphaera, 1584). CLAUDE GARAMOND as a type designer supplied type for both the Estiennes and Plantin. GEOFROY TORY was a typographer, bookseller, engraver and printer (Paolo Giovio. Vitae duodecim, 1549; with woodcuts by Tory).
17th C E N T U R Y: After the death of Plantin in 1589, JAN MORETUS and his descendents continued the press until 1871 (Justus Lipsius. Dissertativncvla apvd Ioannem Moreturn, 1600). The ELZEVIR FAMILY also provided many printers for its operation between the years 1583 and 1791: Louis Elzevir (Arnold Clapmar. De arcanis rerum publicarum, 1644); Daniel Elzevir (Thomas Hobbes. Elementa philosophica de cive, 1669); Jean Elzevir (Jean Balzac. Oevvres diverse, 1658); Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir (Stephen Stephanius. De regno Daniae et Norwegiae, 1629); Pierre Elzevir (Paul Hay. Traitte' de la politique de France, 1670).
18th C E N T U R Y: Two printers in America are of interest in this century. Boston's ISAIAH THOMAS published almanacs, religious works, and juveniles (Hannah Foster. The boarding school, 1798). BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, perhaps better known as a statesman, issued among others his Poor Richard's Almanac (David Hall. A mite into the Treasury, 1758). In Italy GIAMBATTISTA BODONI designed and used his modern roman type face (Horace Walpole. The Castle of Otranto, 1791). JOHN BASKERVILLE in England, an idealist and interested in quality printed 67 books (Quintus Horatus Flaccus, 1770). The STRAWBERRY HILL PRESS founded by Horace Walpole began printing in 1757. (The life of Edward lord Herbert of Cherbury, written by himself, 1764).
19th C E NT U R Y: This century saw the development of the modern private press in England. The KELMSCOTT PRESS founded by William Morris produced some 50 richly decorated volumes (William Morris. The well at the world's end, 1896). The ESSEX HOUSE PRESS founded by C. H. St. John Hornby in 1894 produced 40 titles (Sir Thomas Malory. Le morte Darthur, 1913). The ERAGNY PRESS was distinctive in that all the work in producing its books was done by only two people--the founder Lucien Pissarro and his wife. (Judith Gautier. Album de poemes tirés du livre de Jade, 1911). Although founded in the 19th century many presses continued their publishing into the 20th century also.
20th C E N T U R Y: The private press movement continues today to produce beautiful and noteworthy editions. In Italy the OFFICINA BODONI continues the tradition of the original Bodoni of the 18th century (Victor Hugo. The Toilers of the sea, 1960). Two German presses have produced examples of fine printing: BREMER PRESSE (Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, 1929) and ERNST LUDWIG PRESSE (Gedichte of Walther von der Vogelveide, 1926). In Wales, the Davies sisters operated the GREGYNOG PRESS until 1940 (The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, 1932). The GOLDEN COCKEREL PRESS, still operating, has been publishing since 1920 (Patrick Miller. The Green ship, 1936). Finally and certainly not least is included the DOVES PRESS of Mr. T. J. Cobden-Sanderson (The English Bible, 1903-1905).