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Kristof Selleslach MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Digital Humanities, Early Modern History, History of Books, Material Culture, Museums & Collections

Cohort/Start PhD: 2023-2024

The Officina Plantiniana in transition: Intergenerational succession and transformation at the Antwerp printing and publishing house in the seventeenth century

(De Officina Plantiniana in transitie: Intergenerationele opvolging en transformatie bij de Antwerpse drukkerij-uitgeverij in de zeventiende eeuw)

University of Amsterdam
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Lisa Kuitert (University of Amsterdam); Prof. dr. Pierre Delsaerdt (University of Antwerp)
Start PhD: 2023-2024

A major weakness in the continuation of any family business is the succession of the next generation. The Officina Plantiniana was one of the few in the Low Countries to overcome the ‘third-generation curse’. The printing and publishing house established in Antwerp by Christophe Plantin in the mid-sixteenth century continued for nine generations.

This research project addresses the question how early modern printers and publishers prepared and implemented intergenerational transfer. To this end, the project will focus on fourth generation owner and manager Balthasar Moretus II (1615–1674). During his lifetime, he wrote three elaborate instructions to his wife Anna Goos (1627–1691) and his children regarding the continuation of the Officina Plantiniana. The instructions shed light on how he prepared for the succession of his future widow and sons. In correlation with other records of the Plantin-Moretus Archives, they explain in detail how Moretus managed the Plantin Press and what strategic decisions he made.

The objectives are threefold. Firstly, the project aims to investigate the grounds behind the Officina Plantiniana’s repositioning as a niche player, a pivotal point in the continuation of the family business. Secondly, the project aspires to obtain inside information about the day-to-day functioning of the Officina that previous research has not yet uncovered. Thirdly, the project aims to identify the different options the widows and heirs of early modern printers had between an association and a complete takeover.