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Uncovering Spinoza’s Printers by Means of Bibliographical Research

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This paper concerns the identification of the hitherto unknown printers of the works of Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-77). For centuries the identity of these printers has remained a mystery. The publisher Jan Rieuwertsz, or the printer Christoffel Cunradus, were often mistakenly mentioned as printer of the works of the seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher. These assumptions are incorrect. Despite several studies published in the last decades, the true identity of the printer was still unknown.In this paper we will describe how we were able to identify Spinoza’s anonymous printers by means of analytical bibliography. The identity of printers can be established by their usage of unique printing types, initials and ornaments. By comparing printing materials of known printers to unidentified samples, anonymous works can be ascribed to a certain printer. In seventeenth-century books a decorated initial is often used to start the text. This initial belongs to a certain printer and by comparing different prints of similar initials in detail, small differences may be found. These differences can be caused by damages of the initial concerned, such as small cracks. If these differences are consistent over different prints, one can ascribe certain works to the same printer.By such research the Amsterdam-based printers Daniel Bakkamude and Herman Aeltsz can be identified as the printers of the two earliest published works of Spinoza. His most famous works, Tractatus Theologico-politicus and Opera Posthuma (including the Ethica), were printed by another Amsterdam-based printer: Israël de Paull (1632-80).

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam

10.1163/15700690-12341282
/content/journals/10.1163/15700690-12341282
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/content/journals/10.1163/15700690-12341282
2013-06-27
2018-08-17

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