Drafts of Letters Sent by Various Members of the Plantin-Moretus Family, 1597–1617


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 volume containing copies of the letters sent during the years 1576-1617 by Jan Moretus I (1543-1610), his heir Balthasar Moretus I (1574-1641), and Jan Moretus II (1576-1618). Jan Moretus I, the son-in-law of Plantin, inherited and ran the press after Plantin’s death. Descendants of the Moretus family continued the business until 1876. The letters are in French, Dutch, Latin, and Spanish. 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: May 24, 2017