Aldine Press
Aldine Press was the printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 office started by Aldus Manutius
Aldus Manutius
Aldus Pius Manutius , the Latinised name of Aldo Manuzio —sometimes called Aldus Manutius, the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Aldus Manutius, the Younger—was an Italian humanist who became a printer and publisher when he founded the Aldine Press at Venice.His publishing legacy includes...

 in 1494 in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, from which were issued the celebrated Aldine editions of the classics (Latin and Greek masterpieces plus a few more modern works). The Aldine Press is famous in the history of typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

, among other things, for the introduction of italics. The press was the first to issue printed books in the small octavo
Octavo (book)
Octavo is a technical term describing the format of a book, which refers to the size of leaves produced from folding a full sheet of paper on which multiple pages of text were printed to form the individual sections of a book...

 size, similar to that of a modern paperback, and like that intended for portability and ease of reading. The press issued 127 editions during the lifetime of Aldus. The press was continued after Aldus’s death in 1515 by his wife and her father until his son Paolo (1512–1574) took over. His grandson Aldo then ran the firm until his death in 1597. Due to the firm's commercial success many pirated editions were also produced in Lyons and elsewhere. Today, antique books printed by the Aldine Press in Venice are referred to as Aldines.

Initial innovations

The press was started by Aldus based on his love of classics, and at first printed new copies of Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek and Latin classics. He also printed dictionaries and grammars to help people interpret the books. While scholars wanting to learn Greek used to employ learned Greeks to teach them directly, the Aldine editions, edited by Greek scholars, allowed many scholars across Europe to study Greek. Historian Elizabeth Eisenstein
Elizabeth Eisenstein
Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein is an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She is well-known for her work on the history of early printing, writing on the transition in media between the era of 'manuscript culture' and that of 'print culture', as well as the role...

 claimed that the fall of Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in 1453 had threatened the importance and survival of Greek scholarship, but publications such as those by the Aldine Press secured it. Erasmus was one of the scholars learned in Greek that the Aldine Press employed.

When the press expanded to current titles, they wrote some books themselves and employed other writers, including Erasmus. As this expansion into current languages (mainly Italian and French) and current topics continued, the press took on another role and made perhaps even more important contributions. Beyond the preservation of Hellenic studies, Aldus's contributions are also respected in the development of a smaller type than others in use. His contemporaries called it Aldine Type; today we call it italics. Their logo of the anchor and dolphin is represented today in the symbols and names used by some modern publishers such as Doubleday.

Selected Aldine editions

  • 1495-1498 Aristotle
    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

  • 1499 Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
    Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
    Hypnerotomachia Poliphili , called in English Poliphilo's Strife of Love in a Dream, is a romance said to be by Francesco Colonna and a famous example of early printing...

  • 1501 Francesco Petrarca, Le cose volgari
  • 1502 Dante
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

  • 1502 Herodotus
    Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

  • 1502 Sophocles
    Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

  • 1503 Florilegium diversorum epigrammatum in septem libros
  • 1504 and 1517 Homer
    In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

  • 1513 Plato
    Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

  • 1513 Pindar
    Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

     (editio princeps
    Editio princeps
    In classical scholarship, editio princeps is a term of art. It means, roughly, the first printed edition of a work that previously had existed only in manuscripts, which could be circulated only after being copied by hand....

    ), Callimachus
    Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria and enjoyed the patronage of the Egyptian–Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes...

    ' Hymns, Dionysius Periegetes
    Dionysius Periegetes
    Dionysius Periegetes was the author of a description of the habitable world in Greek hexameter verse written in a terse and elegant style...

    , Lycophron
    Lycophron was a Hellenistic Greek tragic poet, grammarian, and commentator on comedy, to whom the poem Alexandra is attributed .-Life and miscellaneous works:...

     (editio princeps)
  • 1514 Institutionum grammaticarum libri quatuor
  • 1514 Virgil
    Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

     (the first of the italic type pocket octavo editions)
  • 1528 Baldassare Castiglione
    Baldassare Castiglione
    Baldassare Castiglione, count of was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.-Biography:Castiglione was born into an illustrious Lombard family at Casatico, near Mantua, where his family had constructed an impressive palazzo...

    , The Book of the Courtier
    The Book of the Courtier
    The Book of the Courtier is a courtesy book. It was written by Baldassare Castiglione over the course of many years, beginning in 1508, and published in 1528 by the Aldine Press just before his death...

     (first printing)


The most nearly complete collection of Aldine editions ever brought together was in the Althorp library of the 2nd Earl Spencer
George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer
George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer KG PC FRS FSA , styled Viscount Althorp from 1765 to 1783, was a British Whig politician...

, now in the John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library
The John Rylands Library is a Victorian Gothic building on Deansgate in Manchester, England. The library, which opened to the public in 1900, was founded by Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands...

, Manchester.

One of the more substantial collections of Aldine Press books and Aldine imitations in North America is at the Harold B. Lee library on the campus of Brigham Young Univeristy in Provo, Utah.

Further reading

  • Renouard, A. A. (1834) Annales de l'imprimerie des Aldes, ou l'histoire des trois Manuce et de leurs éditions; 3ème édition. Paris (the standard bibliography)
  • Fletcher, H. G., III (1988) New Aldine Studies: documentary essays on the life and work of Aldus Manutius. San Francisco
  • Lowry, Martin (1984) Il mondo di Aldo Manuzio – Affari e cultura della Venezia del Rinascimento. Roma: Il Veltro, pp. 441 (Translated from: The World of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1979). II edizione, con aggiornamento bibliografico, Roma 2000.
  • Soave, Fiammetta (1991) Bibliotheca Aldina: a collection of one hundred publications of Aldus Pius Manutius and the Aldine Press, including some valuable Aldine conterfeits [sic]. Rome: F. Soave
  • Davies, Martin (1995) Aldus Manutius: printer and publisher of Renaissance Venice. London: British Library
  • Febvre, L. & Martin, H. (2001) La nascita del libro. Roma-Bari: Laterza
  • Braida, L. (2003) Stampa e cultura in Europa. Roma-Bari: Laterza

External links

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