1902 Encyclopedia > Johann Fust

Johann Fust
German printer and goldsmith
(died 1466)




JOHANN FUST, (?.... -1466), often considered as the inventor or one of the inventors of printing, belonged to a rich and respectable burgher family of Mainz, which is known to have flourished from 1423, and to have held many civil and religious offices, but was not related to the patrician family Fuss. The name was always written Fust, until in 1506 Johann Schôflér, in dedicating the German translation of Livy to the emperor Maximilian, called his grandfather Faust. After that the family called themselves Faust, and the Fausts of Aschaffenburg, an old and quite distinct family, placed John Fust in their pedigree as one of their most dis-tinguished ancestors. John's brother Jacob, a goldsmith, was appointed baumeister of the town in 1445, and was first burgomaster in 1462, when Mainz was stormed and sacked by the troops of Count Adolf of Nassau. There is no evidence that, as is commonly asserted, John Fust was him-self a goldsmith. He appears to have been a money-lender or banker and speculator, better known for prudence than for uprightness and disinterestedness. His connexion with Gutenberg, who is now generally, though not universally, admitted to be the real inventor of printing, has been very variously represented, and Fust has been put forward by some as the inventor of typography, and the instructor as well as the partner of Gutenberg, by others as his patron and benefactor, who saw the value of his discovery and had the eourage to supply him with means to carry it out. This view has been the most popular; but during the present century Fust has been frequently painted as a greedy and crafty speculator, who took advantage of Gutenberg's necessity and robbed him of the fruits of his' invention. Gutenberg, many years resident in Strasburg, where he was long engaged in the experiments and attempts which re-sulted in his discovery of typography, is not known to have been there after 1444. His uncle Henne (or Johann) Gutenberg, senior, on 28th October 1443 took the house in Mainz called Zum Jungen, where Gutenberg afterwards carried on printing. Having already exhausted his own resources in his long-continued and costly experiments, Gutenberg, through his cousin Albrecht Gelthuss zum Echtzeller, borrowed 150 florins in Mainz 6th October 1418. This sum was quite insufficient for his purposes, and on 22d August 1459, as appears from the amount of interest after-wards claimed, he made an agreement with Fust, who was to advance him 800 gold florins to make and procure his tools and materials, which were to be security for the loan. Fust was also to give him 300 florins a year for expenses, wages, house rent, parchment, paper, ink, &c. They were to divide the profits equally, and if they wished to separate, Gutenberg was to return the 800 florins, and the materials were to cease to be security. Fust was to have half the profits, being both holder of a mortgage and partner in the firm. Gutenberg carried on the business at Zum Jungen, where he lived. It is difficult to ascertain precisely what books were printed while the partnership lasted. They first printed, says Trithemius, a vocabulary called Catholicon. This was not the Catholicon of Johannes de Janua, a folio of 748 pages, 66 lines to a full page, printed in 1460, and now considered to be the work of Gutenberg alone, but was pro-bably a small glossary for children, now lost; they also printed Donatus de octo partibus orationis, 27 lines to a page, of which two leaves were discovered in Mainz in the original binding of an account book of 1451. Their greatest work was the Latin Bible known as the Bible of 42 lines, because a page contains 42 lines, and also as the Mazarin Bible, because the first copy described was found in the library of Cardinal Mazarin. It was finished at latest in 1455, and is a folio of 1282 printed pages, with spaces left for the illumination of initials, and is in much smaller type than the famous and much-disputed Bible of 36 lines, also called the Bamberg Bible, because nearly all the known copies were found in the neighbourhood of Bamberg. It is also called ScheUiorn's Bible, becauseSchelhorn described it in 1760 as the oldest printed Latin Bible, and Pfister's Bible, because ascribed to Albert Pfister, a printer of Bamberg, who used the same type for printing many small German books, the chief of which is Boner's Edelstein, 1461, 4to, 88 leaves, 85 woodcuts, a book of fables in German rhyme. But many eminent bibliographers believe this Bible to have been printed by Gutenberg, who used the safcne type in the Letters of Indulgence of 1454, and in the 27-line Donatus of 1451. The types used by Pfister are evidently old and worn, except those of the ad-ditional letters required for German, k, w, z, which are clear and sharp like the types used in the Bible. Ulric Zell states, in the Cologne Chronicle of 1499, that Gutenberg and Fust printed the Bible in large type like that used in missals. It has been said that this description applies to the 42-line Bible, as its type is as large as that of most missals earlier than 1500, and that the size now called missal type (double pica) was not used in missals until late in the 16th century. This is no doubt true of the smaller missals printed before 1500, some of which are in even much smaller type than the 42-line Bible. But many of the large folio missals, as that printed at Mainz by Peter Schoffer in 1483, the Carthusian missal printed at Spires by Peter Drach about 1490, and the Dominican missal printed by Andrea de Torresanis at Venice in 1496 are in as large type as the 36-line Bible. It required scarcely less than such a work, says Madden, to induce Fust to advance such large sums of money. Some other smaller works were printed by the partners, as the Papal Letters of Indulgence of 1454-5, granted 12th April 1451 by Nicolas V., in aid of John II., king of Cyprus, against the Turks, and probably many now lost. Peter Schoffer of Gernsheim, between Mainz and Mannheim, who was a copyist in Paris in 1449, and who is called by Fust his servant (famulus), is said by Trithemius to have discovered an easier way of founding characters. Lambinet and others have concluded from this that Schoffer invented the punch. Schoffer himself, in the colophon of the Psalter of 1457, a work which probably was planned and partly printed by Gutenberg, claims only the mode of printing rubrics and coloured capitals. Didot believes that Schoffer discovered the movable mould, and that Gutenberg alludes to this discovery and to SchSffer's youth when he says in the colophon of the Catholicon of 1460 that God reveals to babes what He hides from the wise. Fust, quite unexpectedly as it seems, and before the profits of the undertaking could be realized, brought a suit against Gutenberg to recover the money he had lent, claiming 2026 florins for principal and interest. He had made a second loan of 800 florins in 1452, but had not paid the 300 florins a year, and, according to Gutenberg, had said that he had no intention of accepting interest. The suit wat, decided in Fust's favour, 6th November 1455, in the great refectory of the Barefooted Friars of Mainz, when Fust made oath by all the saints that he had borrowed 155G florins and given them to Gutenberg. Fust removed the portion of the printing materials covered by his mortgage, which did not include the types of the 36-line Bible, to a house belonging to him called Zum Humbreicht, where he carried on printing with the aid of Peter Schoffer, to whom he gave his only daughter Dyna or Christina in marriage about 1465. Their first publication was the Psalter, 14th August 1457, a folio of 350 pages, the first printed book with a complete date, and remarkable for the beauty of the large initials printed each in two colours, red and blue, from types made in two pieces, a method patented in England by Solomon Henry in 1780, and by Sir William Congreve in 1819. The Psalter was reprinted with the same types, 1459 (August 29), 1490, 1502 (Schoffer's last publica-tion), and 1516. Fust and Schoffer's other works are given below.1 In 1464 Adolf of Nassau appointed for the church of St Quintin three baumeisters, who were to choose twelve chief parishioners as assistants for life. The first of these " Vorvaren," who were named on May-day 1464, was Johes Fust, and in 1467 Adam von Hochheim was chosen instead of Johannes Fust. Fust is said to have gone to Paris in 1466, and to have died of the plague, which raged there in August and September. He certainly was in Paris on 4th July, when he gave Louis de Lavernade, a distinguished gentleman of the province of Forez, then chancellor of the Due de Bourbon and first president of the parliament of Toulouse, a copy of his second edition of Cicero, as appears from a note in Lavernade's own hand at the end of the book, which is now in the library of Geneva. But Fust pro-bably did not die until 30th October, on which day, pro-bably in 1471, an annual mass was instituted for him by Peter Schoffer and Conrad Henlif in the church of St Victor of Paris, where he was buried.

Fust has been often confounded with the famous magician Dr Johann Faust, no doubt a real person, though the fables gradually gathered round his name have formed a regular mythical saga. Trithemius speaks in 1507 of Magister Georgius Sabellicus, who called himself Faustus Junior. Conradus Metianus Bufus (Conrad Mudt) in 1513 calls him " quidam chiromanticus Georgius Faustus." But Melanchthon (Manlius, Collectanea communium Locorum, 1568, p. 39) and the author of the oldest popular history of Faust call the magician John, which name has been adopted in the popular books and generally accepted. This change of name, which has been variously explained, allowed the confused traditional remembrance of the printer to be worked into the Faust saga, perhaps the more readily as in his colophons Fust said that his books were not made with pen or pencil, " seel arte quadam perpulchra." The confusion has been much assisted by the story of Fust's supposed prosecution for magic, which, widely credited, and frequently repeated as an authentic anecdote, seems to have been first mentioned by Johannes Walchius in his Decas fabularum humani generis, Argentorati, 1610, fol. 181. He states on the authority of Hendrik van Schore or Schorus, a Flemish author, then an old man and provost of Surburg, that when Fust sold his Bibles in Paris, the purchasers, surprised to find all the copies agree exactly in every letter, complained of deception (" a Fausto falsos ac deceptos se clamabant"), and bringing back their books demanded their money, and pursued him even in Mainz, so that to escape he removed to Strasburg. Johann Conrad Dürr, professor of theology at Alfdorf, wrote an Epistola cle Johanne Fausto, dated 18th July 1676, which Schelhorn printed in 1726, in his Amcenitates Literarice, vol v. pp. 50-80. Dürr (after relating from Emmanuel van Meteren the tale of Koster's types being stolen on Christmas eve by John Fust his workman, who fled to Amsterdam, then to Cologne, and lastly to Mainz) says that, on showing his books, Fust was suspected of magic, as he could print in one day as much as several men could write in a year, and as the monks and nuns, who had long made great pro-fits by copying, found their kitchens grow cold, and their bright fires extinguished, Fust incurred their hatred and calumny, and was transformed into a magician; and this opinion was confirmed by his printing the Doctrinale Alex-andri (i. e., Doctrinale Alexandri Galli, a most popular mediaeval Latin grammar), which gave rise to the story that Faust had caused Alexander the Great to appear to Charles V. Lacaille (Histoire de VImprimerie, Paris, 1689, p. 12) repeats the story of Fust selling his Bibles in Paris, and adds, as Marchand (Hist, de VImprimerie, La Haye, 1740, p. 27) says, out of his own head ("avance de son chef"), that the purchasers brought a suit against Fust accusing him of magic, so that he had to escape to Mainz, but the parliament of Paris made a decree discharging Fust of all prosecutions as to the sale of his Bibles. The whole story, as Bernard says, is very improbable and scarcely deserves a serious refutation. There is no proof that the monks were hostile to printing, or that it interfered with the profits of the copyists. On the contrary many books were printed by monks, the early printers often set up their presses in monasteries, and Gutenberg, Fust, and Schöffer were on friendly terms with many conventual houses. Dürr himself quotes from the Chronicle of Aventinus a statement that, if printing had not been discovered, the old books would have been lost, as they would no longer write in the monasteries. Printing did the mechanical work, and multiplied the material for calligraphy and illumina-tion, and therefore did not at first interfere with the profits of the scribes or excite their hostility. The learned men who bought books in 1463 cannot have been ignorant of the invention of printing, which the colophon of the Bible of 1462 expressly mentions. No trace of a suit against Fust has been found in the registers of the parliament of Paris. Shortly before his death Fust was known in Paris to Louis de Lavernade, a magistrate of the highest rank, who could have had no intercourse with a man accused of magic. The confusion is especially seen in the German puppet plays even now placing Dr Faust in Mainz, while the popular histories make him dwell in Wittenberg, the birthplace of Protestantism, where Marlowe's Tragical History of Dr Faustus, founded on the prose history, places him. Many writers have accepted Diirr's error (see Bistelhuber, Faust dans I'histoire et la legende, Paris, 1863, p. 173); thus Chasles (Etudes sur le moyen age, p. 398) calls Fust " magicien a barbe blanche," and Victor Hugo's introduc-tion to Marlowe's play is based on this error, which, says Heine (Ueber Deutschland), "is widely spread among the people. Theyidentify the two Fausts because they perceived indistinctly that the mode of thought represented by the magicians found its most formidable means of diffusion in the discovery of printing. This mode, however, is thought itself as opposed to the blind Credo of the Middle Ages."





Authorities.—Scliaab, Die Geschichte tier Erfindung der Buck-druckerkunst, Mainz, 1830-31, 8vo, 3 vols.; De Vinne, The Inven-tion of Printing, New York, 1876, Svo; Bernard, De Vorigine etdes debuts de VImprimerie en Europe, Paris, 1853, Svo, 2 vols.; Madden, Lettres d'unBibliographe, Versailles, 1868-75, 8vo, 2 vols.; Falken-stein, Geschichte der Buchdruckerkunst, Leipzig, 1840, 4to; Van der Linde, The Haarlem Legend, translated by J. H. Hessels, London, 1871, 8vo; Kohler, Hochverdiente und aus bewahrten UrTcunden wohlbeglaubte Ehrenrettung Johann Gutenbergs, Leipzig, 1743, 4to; Wnrdtwein, Bibliotheca Moguntina, August. Vindelicorum, 1787, 4to; Schwartz, Primaria qucedam documenta de origine typographic?, Altorf, 1740, 8vo; Schelhorn, De antiquissima Latinor. Bibliorum editione, UlniEe, l760, 4to; Beitrdge zur Geschichte des Buchhandels, Leipzig, 1864, 4to; Trithemius, Annates Hirsaugienses, Typis Monasterii S. Galli, 1690, fob, 2 vols.; Oronica van der Hilliger Stat, van Coellen, Cologne, 1499, fol.; Joannis, Iierum Moguntia-carum, Francofurti ad Moenum, 1722-27, fob, 3 vols. (P. A. L.)


Footnote

3 3. Durandus, Rationale clivinorum ojiciorum, 1459, folio, 160 leaves ; 4. the Clementine Constitutions, with the gloss of Johannes Andrea?, 1460, 51 leaves ; 5. Biblia Sacra Latina, 1462, fol., 2 vols., 242 and 239 leaves, 48 lines to a full page ; 6. the Sixth Book of Decretals, with Andrew's gloss, 17th December 1465, fob, 141 leaves ; 7. Cicero De Officiis, 1465, 4to, 88 leaves, the first edition of a Latin classic, the first book containing Greek characters, while in the colo-phon Fust first calls Schoffer "puerum suum"; 8. the same, 4th February 1466 ; 9. Grammatica rhytmica, 1466, fob, 11 leaves. They also printed in 1461-2 several papal bulls, proclamations of Adolf of Nassau, &c. Nothing is known to have appeared for three years after the storming of Mainz, 8th October 1465








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