General Ledger, 1590–1599


The Officina Plantiniana, also known as the Plantin Press or Plantijnse Drukkerij, was established in Antwerp in 1555 by Christopher Plantin (1520–89), the greatest typographer and printer-publisher of his day. The Officina grew to become the largest printing and publishing house in Europe and helped to make Antwerp, along with Venice and Paris, one of the most important centers of printing in the West. Shown here is a ledger that provides a summary of the daily journaux (account books) of the activities of the press in the years 1590–99, when Jan Moretus I (1543–1610) was its head. Moretus, Plantin’s son-in-law, inherited and ran the press after Plantin’s death. On the left side of each page is noted what every client owed to the press; on the right side is what each person supplied or paid. These account books offer a unique source for the study of the history of the book in Europe around 1600. The ledger is mainly in French, with parts in Latin and Dutch. The business archives of the Officina are an important source for the study of the book trade in Europe, economic and socioeconomic history, and intellectual developments at an especially turbulent time in the history of Europe and the West. The archives were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2001.

Last updated: July 3, 2014