The Plantin Press Online

Subject: History

The Plantin Press Online aims to provide in-depth bibliographical information on all editions printed and published by Christophe Plantin (c. 1520–1589) in Antwerp and by his printing office in Leiden until his death on 1 July 1589. It includes references to his typographical material, woodblocks, copperplates, his correspondence, and the Plantin archives in Antwerp, as well as existing copies, bibliographical works, links to digital reproductions, and recent research. Based on the extensive six-volume printed edition compiled by Leon Voet in collaboration with Jenny Voet-Grisolle (Amsterdam, 1980–1983), this open-access research tool incorporates the latest bibliographical findings as well as additions and corrections to the print edition.  

The dataset has been and will be continuously updated and complemented by scholars working on Christophe Plantin and his printed legacy by embedding citizen science, which means we actively encourage users to provide any additional information that would improve the records in the Plantin Press Online. If you have a correction, addition or adaption for the Plantin Press Online, you can fill in our contact form. 

This digital research tool is published in open access in collaboration with Museum Plantin-Moretus

More information: Brill.com

The Plantin Press Online is based on The Plantin Press (1555-1589), an extensive six-volume bibliography of the editions printed and published in the printing office of Christophe Plantin at Antwerp and Leiden, compiled by Leon Voet, former curator of the Museum Plantin-Moretus Museum. The printed introduction to this edition is available here

It contains detailed information on the editions printed during the lifetime of Plantin. During the months that followed after his death, the Officina Plantiniana continued to publish books with his imprint. These editions are included in the dataset, except for the works that clearly have been produced his passing. Between 1583 and 1585, Plantin had a press at Leiden. In 1586, his son-in-law Frans Raphelengius took over the business, which is why only the editions have been described until Frans Raphelengius came to own the printing office. 

The 6 volumes of Voet’s bibliography were published in 1981. In 2022, these volumes were scanned, ocr-ed and converted to xml to provide the basis for this online research tool. The dataset continues to be updated and complemented with information that has been retrieved since the publication in 1981 and links to other (digital) resources are and will be added. A work in progress, this makes the Plantin Press Online a continuously growing research resource for all editions by Christophe Plantin.

The record of each work follows the structure of the descriptions in the printed bibliography, but there are a number of differences. Each record of an edition either printed or published by Plantin starts with a unique record ID (cpxxxxxx), followed by the number originally assigned by Voet, if applicable. When available, we include the link to the catalogue record of a copy preserved in Museum Plantin-Moretus. The records then include (if applicable) the following: 

  • Short title 
  • Record ID 
  • Voet reference number 
  • Link to the online catalogue of Museum Plantin-Moretus 
  • Author/ uniform title 
  • Title page transcription 
  • Collation  
  • Fingerprint 
  • Number of sheets 
  • Pages 
  • Illustrations 
  • Edition information 
  • Copies 
  • Digital copies 
  • Bibliographical references 
  • Online bibliographical references 
  • Notes 
  • Further reading 

The Plantin Press Online thus expands on Voet’s bibliographical work by adding new sections, including the fingerprint, the number of sheets, edition information, digital copies, online bibliographical references, and further reading suggestions. 

Short title 

The short title is the heading of each record with the shortened title of the edition. It additionally mentions the name of the city if the work was printed in Leiden. Some editions consists of more than one title page: in those cases Antwerp and Plantin have been incorporated to distinguish the variants clearly. The names of the scholars responsible for the edition, the translation or the commentary of a given text are cited within square brackets, preceded by 'ed[ited], 'tr[anslated] ' 'comm [ented]'. 

In some cases, Plantin printed editions for colleagues or, he commissioned work from fellow printers. If so, this information is added to the short title.  

Author/uniform title 

Authors have been recorded under their latinized name, while in some cases their original names have been added as a reference. Each author or uniform title (Bible, Breviarium, etc.) is normally preceded by a biography or explanatory note (when possible with bibliographical references). 

Title page transcription 

The title page transcription reproduces the title page and includes the following elements: the type font(s) (roman, italic, gothic, civilité, Greek, Hebrew) in capital or lower case; the end of a line; the use of red by underlining the red parts; the printer's mark or 'vignette'; and the use of a typographical rule. 

The title page transcriptions often contain symbols that have the following meaning:  

⊕ Printer's mark. 

‖ End of a line (in a title-page). 

‖-‖ Horizontal rule between two lines (in a title-page). 

/Equivalent in editions in the Dutch language of a comma (,) or semi-colon (;) (in a title-page). 

☐ Printed within central part of woodcut-compartment. 

† Printed within upper-slot of woodcut-compartment. 

‡ Printed within under-slot of woodcut-compartment. 

… Text not fully transcribed. 

Most of the printer's marks featuring in the editions are of Christophe Plantin himself. They are indicated by the sign ⊕ and a number. In ordinances issued by the Plantin Press the printer's mark is often replaced by a woodcut showing the coat of arms of either the acting sovereign, the duchy of Brabant (also used for the ordinances of the States-General), or the city of Antwerp. Some editions feature the printer's mark of other publishers. In the transcription they are recorded with the sign for printer's mark, the letters VH (Van Havre), the name of the publisher and a number.  

Most of Plantin’s title pages contain typographical tekst for the title, a printer's mark (or vignette), and the imprint. Some works consist of a title page with a more elaborate decoration, which is specified in the transcription by a short entry following the short title and before the transcription, within square brackets ([ ]), and includes one or two typographical rules or lines ([Within a single line:]; [Within two lines:]), or a frame or border of fleuron type-ornaments ([Within border [or frame] of fleuron-ornaments:]). When several woodcut engravings were used to form a frame or border, this is specified as: [Within woodcut-frame:]; when the border consists of a woodcut engraving in one piece or compartment, this is specified as: [Within wood-cut-compartment] . Ornamental woodcuts generally have a more or less large cut-out center part and two smaller cut-out slots, one above, and one under the central cut-out part, in which the typographically printed texts were printed. In the transcription this is indicated by † (= meaning that the following line or lines figure in the upper-slot above), □ (= meaning that the following lines are found in the central cut-out part), ‡ (= meaning that the following line or lines are in the under-slot). 

Some editions consist of a title page in intaglio (burin engraving or engraving), which is indicated by the [Engraved title-page:]. Also very often, as is the case with the woodcut-compartments, parts of the plate were cut-out to permit the printing of typographical type. In this case it is specified: [Engraved title-page; printed typographically within cut-out centerpart:] [… within cut-out medallions:]. 

Broadsides without a title page or other works start with some lines in a (generally larger) body, giving (or suggesting) a title. This is indicated with: [Heading:]. The transcription immediately following records the headlines (if not otherwise specified). 

Collation 

This section includes information on the bibliographical format, the quire structure, and the total number of pages or folios, recording according to bibliographical standards. Some additional information is given on the following specifications:  

  • ‘Printed in black and red’: parts of the text are printed in red. 
  • ‘Printed from back to front’: some non-Latin scripts required to be written, read and printed from right to left, such as Hebrew and Syriac.  
  • ‘Printed on two (or three . . .) columns’: the type area is divided into two or more columns. This is only recorded when the larger part of the edition has been printed this way. When it only concerns a relatively small part (e.g. table or indices), this is recorded the section titled ‘Pages’: e.g. 14-80: Text; 81-82: Table (on two columns); 83-114: Indices (on two and three columns). 
  • ‘Specific decorations’. Some luxurious editions consist of decorated pages. 
  • ‘Printed within a single line or rule (or double lines)’: on each page the text has been set within a frame of a typographically printed line (or two lines).  
  • ‘Printed within a single line (or double lines) on two columns’: each column separated by a single line (or two lines). 
  • ‘Printed within woodcut-border’: each page has been printed within a woodcut engraving consisting of one block. 
  • ‘Printed within woodcut-frame’: each page is printed within a woodcut engraving consisting of separate blocks. 

Fingerprint 

A work in progress, the Plantin Press Online aims to include the bibliographical fingerprint of the STCV and STCN databases in records that helps to identify a particular edition based on the copy one is consulting. The fingerprint is a set formula that consists of the following elements: 

  • Year and bibliographical format 
  • The position set text above the quire signatures in the first and last of each distinguishable bibliographical section in the book block. 

The manual of the STCV database explains the use and interpretation of the fingerprint in detail. 

Number of sheets 

Next to the collation formula, this section notes the number of sheets of paper used to print a copy of a particular edition. 

Pages 

This section gives an overview of the structure of the book block, including information on: 

  • The title page 
  • French title 
  • The internal title page 
  • Headings 
  • Other text parts: including paratextual elements (indicated by a transcription of their heading, or summarised in English), tables, approbations, privileges, colophons etc. 
  • Additional explanation of the contents: used type, use of marginals, and music. 

Illustrations 

If the edition contains illustrations, including vignettes on title pages other than printer’s marks, they are recorded with the techniques used (woodcut; intaglio (copper engraving)), the dimensions (height x width in millimetres), the name(s) of the designers and/or illustrators ((woodcut) engravers). 

Illustrations often have been reproduced in several editions, which is also recorded here or in the section ‘Notes’, except for liturgical works.  

Edition information 

This section incorporates the information printers added to title pages or within the book block on the edition. 

Copies 

Each record lists existing copies and their preserving institution, potentially including varying and copy-specific information (e.g. printed on vellum, manuscript annotations by the author etc.). The basis is Leon Voet’s work: he first of all attempted to locate a copy of every edition, and while doing so added copies he found in libraries and reference works, or by consulting colleagues. Most bibliographical descriptions are based on copies preserved in the following institutions: 

  • Museum Plantin-Moretus 
  • KBR Royal Library in Brussels 
  • In libraries of the University of Cambridge 
  • The University library of Ghent 
  • The British Library in London 
  • The Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris 
  • The Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial 
  • The Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid 
  • The Biblioteca Vaticana 
  • The Biblioteca Nazionale in Rome 

Digital copies 

Whenever available, we list links to digital reproductions of copies we have checked. 

Bibliographical references 

This section includes relevant bibliographies and reference works that mention a particular edition or author in detail. The references are included in an abbreviated citation form. 

Online bibliographical references 

This section includes relevant online bibliographies that mention a particular edition or author in detail. The references include a link to the bibliographical record of the respective bibliography. 

Notes 

This section includes additional information and details on the editions with references to relevant source material. Leon Voet has done a tremendous job going through Christophe Plantin’s correspondence and archive to elaborate on the production, publishing, sale, and distribution of a particular edition. The Plantin Press Online builds on his work, adding new information found in archival documents or based on scholarly research. 

Further reading 

Since the publication of Leon Voet’s bibliography, scholars have carried out research on Christophe Plantin’s editions in a wide range of disciplines. This section includes, whenever available, references to articles, book chapters, monographs, and edited volumes dedicated to scholarship on a particular publication. 

Volume VI of Voet’s The Plantin Press (1555-1589) contains different indices of lists he compiled. Some of these, such as used language(s) or subject information, are added to the separate entries. Other indexes have been converted into separate entries in this online edition and can be accessed through the links below. The Plantin Press Online continues to expand these lists based on the latest (scholarly) findings. 

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z 


Remarks with the Alphabetical indexes of persons:

Between brackets the record IDs of the editions are added (with only a few exceptions in which case this is duly noted: p. . . .).  

The IDs referring to authors recorded as such (and normally introduced by a biographical note) are displayed in bold type.  

Titles and qualifications have only been given in a limited number of cases: saints and popes; kings and princes; clerks (having signed the privileges); publishers, printers and booksellers; designers, woodcutters and engravers who worked for Plantin; pressmen and compositors of the Plantin Press.  

Persons mentioned in the introductory chapter of an edition are listed in the first record ID referring to the author or edition (e.g. 'Orange, William of: cp013390' may be a reference either in the work of Divaeus, De Galliae Belgicae antiquitatibus liber I, or in the biographical note on Divaeus preceding immediately this edition).  

This list does not include: biblical personages mentioned incidentally in descriptions and notes; Gods of Antiquity likewise mentioned incidentally; characters of novels (cf. cp010885); modern scholars.  

As Plantin is practically listed in each entry and on each page, his name has only been noted when he wrote the publication or part of it (dedicatory, note to the reader, etc.), or when he was addressed directly in the edition (in a dedicatory or similar introductory part). 

The Plantin Press Online is a constant work in progress. Researchers continue to devote their attention to Christophe Plantin and his printed legacy to learn more about the editions he published, his business organization, the production process, and the dissemination of his publications. This is why we actively encourage anyone who wants to add, correct, or adapt information in existing records or wants to inform us about an edition that is not yet included in the research tool by sending us an e-mail to the address:

To:  [email protected]

Subject:  Record ID [cp....] or general subject 

Message text:   Your suggestion. Please add your name and contact details to the message text.