Johann and Wendelin of Speyer
They were among the first of those who came to Italy from Mainz, after 1462, to introduce printing. Knowledge of their lives is scanty. They came originally from Speyer. Early in 1460-61 Johann appears in Mainz as a goldsmith. In 1468, with his wife, children, and brother Wendelin, he set out for Italy, settling in Venice.
The Venetian Senate extended a cordial welcome to Johann, and granted him a monopoly of printing for five years. His first book, Cicero's Epistolae ad familiares, appeared in 1469. During the printing of Augustine's De Civitate Dei (1470) Johann died, and Wendelin completed it, assuming control of the business and carried it on until 1477. About 1472 he associated with him the German printer, Johann von Köln. Together they issued seven works. Before Johann died, four great works had been issued: two editions of Cicero; Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia; and one volume of Livy. The De Civitate Dei had been begun. Within seven months eight hundred volumes were printed.
From 1470 to 1477 Wendelin issued over seventy major works (Italian and Roman classics, Fathers of the Church, jurists, etc.). Johann printed in an antique type modelled after the best Italian manuscript writing, beautiful, and carefully cut. It is superior to the later antique type, which deteriorated through desire to save space, and it is almost equal to the beautiful type of Jenson. Johann's clear type and his entire technical execution are surprisingly perfect.
In addition to this first type, Wendelin used five newly cut types of exquisite workmanship, among them three slender Gothic models, probably reduced to save space. His work showed the same correctness of text, beauty of printing, and evenness that had characterized Johann's. The latter was the first printer to number the leaves with Arabic figures, and was also the first who used the colon and interrogation point. In Wendelin's books appeared for the first time the so-called catch-words (Kustoden), that is to say he printed on the lower margin of each page the first word of the page following.
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- Robinson, Anton Meredith Lewin (1979). "4. The spread of printing". From monolith to microfilm: the story of the recorded word. Cape Town: South African Library. p. 25. ISBN 0-86968-020-X.
The first printer [in Venice] was Johann de Speier
- Wallau, Heinrich Wilhelm. "Johann and Wendelin von Speyer". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007. Check date values in:
- Denis, Suffragium pro J. de Spira (Vienna, 1794)
- Brown, Venetian Printing Press (London, 1891)
- Ongania, Art de l'imprimerie a Venise (Venice, 1895-6)
- Hartwig et al., Festschrift zum 500 jahr. Geburstage von Johann Gutenberg (Mainz, 1900), 342.
- Example of Wendelin of Speyer printing