Early Printed Book Culture in the Context of

Schedels’ Printing
Office Production

“Book culture” is a research category conceived as a basis for the narration concerning the origins, the projected role and the reception of book (manuscript and printed one). By using the term “book culture” occurring in some researches on early modern period we look at the segment of the history of civilization considering the importance and effect of printed texts and sometimes also the iconographical figures on the groups of readers, defined by relying on their educational background, social class, property qualification, job, confession and esthetic predilections. The books are explored through their material aspects, as well as their very content. Since the 15th century some can talk about the “print culture” in Europe which was animated by the printing houses which not only produced their prints, but also sold them, namely their editorial production. The term book culture has been popularized in the Polish bibliology mainly by Krzysztof Migoń. The presumption of the project is the social and communicational role of printing house, which was recalled by Stefan Żółkiewski while he was describing the 20th century literary production. This supposition is connected with the research method of Elisabeth Eisenstein who emphasized a social role of the book and the crucial role of the printing in scientific and confessional phenomena, launched in Europe by Gutenberg.

Early printed books considered both as the artifacts of the printing office and the media of the literary texts are investigated in the context of the social, political, and confessional transformations of the 17th and the beginnings of the 18th century, as exemplified by the editorial production of the famous Schedels’ printing house (which functioned in Cracow in the years 1639-ca 1708). The Schedels’ printing house began publishing books in Cracow in 1639. That was Krzysztof Schedel senior (Christophorus Schedelius, ca 1600-1653), the royal printer, who in that year issued, among others, some works of Polish polymath Simon Starowolski, as well as editions of Ovid and some occasional works. The successors of Krzysztof Schedel were his wife and sons, Jerzy Romuald (1635-ca 1705) and Mikołaj Aleksander (1644-1708) who ran the company together, at the beginning also with their brother, Krzysztof. Since 1683 the enterprise was conducted by Mikołaj Aleksander himself and at the beginning of the 18th century it was acquired by a sponsor and then, in 1712, sold to another printer, Ignacy Antoni Hebanowski.

In the context of Schedels’ printing office, there are examined such dimensions of book culture as follows: the genesis of the work; the institutional interferences in the final form of the publication; the early printed books in the editorial market; the circulation of the text in the form of a codex or a booklet; the role of the printer in forming readers’ predilections. Registering and analyzing the whole Schedels’ editorial production from a typographical, thematic and contextual perspective enables to define the range of mutual interference of the main intellectual ideas into the one of the most prominent centre in the Commonwealth of Poland of the 17th and the beginnings of the 18th century.

The project sponsored by the National Science Centre, Poland (contract no. UMO-2016/20/S/HS2/00078) takes 36 months, beginning from 1st May 2017 and is carried out at the Chair of Editing and Auxiliary Sciences at the Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University in Cracow, under the guidance of Professor Janusz Gruchała.



Michał Czerenkiewicz

Revised by Ewelina Gierłach

Select bibliography:

P. Buchwald-Pelcowa, Historia literatury i historia książki. Studia nad książką i literaturą od średniowiecza po wiek XVIII, Kraków 2005.
R. Chartier, The Printing Revolution. A Reappraisal, in: Agent of Change. Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, ed. by S. Alcorn Baron, E. D. Linquist, and E. F. Shevlin, Amherst, Boston, Massachusettes 2007, p. 397-408.
J. S. Gruchała, Iucunda familia librorum. Humaniści renesansowi w świecie książki, Kraków 2002.