Printing: Renaissance & Reformation

An Exhibit for History 101: European Civlization I

Introduction | Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4 | Island 5 | Island 6

Island 3 - The Early Printing Shop and German Printing

From Jan Commenius
Orbis Sensualium Pictus

A page from a little seventeenth-century encyclopaedia by the Czechoslovakian theologian and educator Commenius, describing the printing process for children, in English and Latin.

Johannes and Phillipus Stradanus
Nova Reperta

A late 16th-century engraving entitled "The Printing of Books," done by two brothers from Bruges in Belgium, demonstrates the specialist trades associated with early book production. These four woodcuts illustrate:

Hartman Schedel
Liber cronicarum ["The Nuremberg Chronicle"]
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1492.

The Nuremberg Chronicle, a history of the world from the creation to the early 1490's, is the first great illustrated printed book. Koberger, active as a printer from 1473 until his death in 1513, was one of the most prolific of early German printers. This work contains 645 different portraits and illustrations printed from woodblocks, among them accurate representations of major European cities. Many of the portraits were reprinted at several points in the book to represent different people. The great artist, Albrecht Durer, is known to have worked as a youth on some of these illustrations. The main text ends with the coming of the Anti-Christ and the Last Judgment, then expected in 1500. Note the use of the manuscript-like blackletter or Gothic typeface, standard for German till this century.

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