Elzevier Press


Elzevier Press
   One of the greatest publishing firms of the late Renaissance. Founded in 1583 by Louis Elzevier (1546-1617), a Protestant refugee from Louvain who settled in Leiden after working for the press of Christophe Plantin at Antwerp, the firm benefitted from its location in Leiden, home of a new university founded in 1575. By 1592 Elzevier was fully engaged in publishing, though he always contracted the printing to other firms. Almost all of his publications were in Latin, and his production of editions of classical literature was one of the foundations of his success. The other was his introduction of printed catalogs of books offered for sale by auction. After Louis' death in 1617, his sons Matthias and Bonaventura continued the firm, and his grandson Isaac became official printer to the university in 1620.
   The golden age of the Elzevier press occurred under the partnership between Bonaventura and Abraham Elzevier, a son of Matthias, especially after they purchased Isaac's company in 1625. In addition to classical editions and academic dissertations, the new partnership became the publisher of choice for prominent scholars not only from the Dutch Republic (Gerardus Johannes Vossius, Hugo Grotius, and Daniel Heinsius, for example) but also for foreign scholars, including Galileo Galilei. The press continued until 1713. An offshoot of the Leiden firm was founded by Louis II Elzevier at Amsterdam; it concentrated on the publication of contemporary authors including Thomas Hobbes, Francis Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, John Milton, and René Descartes. There were also branches at The Hague and Utrecht, founded by other descendants of the original Louis Elzevier. The elegant products of the Amsterdam press in the 17th century, particularly its beautifully printed small-format editions of classical authors, had already become collectors' items by the 18th century.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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