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Women in the book trade in Italy, 1475-1620.

In his 1569 Epistola qua ad multas multorum amicorum respondet de suae typographiae statu nominatimque de suo thesauro linguae graecae, the Parisian printer Henri II Estienne decries the participation of women in the book trade: "But beyond all those evils which have now been brought on by the ignorance of printers, male and female (for this only remains to add to the disgrace of the art, that even the little ladies have been practicing it), who will doubt that new evils are daily to be expected?"(1) As Estienne's comments testify, one of the most unusual features of the Renaissance and Counter Reformation book trade was the existence of several women printers and publishers. While their contemporaries were well aware of the presence of women in the printing profession, bibliographers and historians have largely neglected the history of their labors. Indeed, the tendency to discount the existence of women printers and publishers, in addition to precluding a fuller understanding of their labors, has produced some rather heavy-handed misuse of the evidence for these activities.(2) G.M. Mazzucchelli, in listing Michelangelo Biondo's works in Gli scrittori d'Italia (1753-63), corrects Girolama Cartolari's colophons, changing them from Hieronymam and Girolama to Hieronymum and Girolamo.(3) Given the disdain of many of their contemporaries and the denial of their existence by some critics, it comes as little surprise that women's work in this industry has gone largely unnoticed.

Revisions such as the above aside, our knowledge of women's work in the book trade is still riddled with misconceptions. To date there is only one study, Francesco Novati's 1907 "Donne tipografenel Cinquecento," that examines the activity of women printers in Italy. Novati's interest in the topic is largely antiquarian: he views women in the book trade as a quaint novelty -- the forays of "il sesso gentile" into a profession dominated by men.(4) Subsequent studies either provide a very general survey of the phenomenon or focus on women printers and publishers in France.(5) Despite the fact that since the turn of the century much work has been done on Italian printing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, scholars have not extended Novati's initial findings in the light of such studies.

The paucity of studies of women in the printing industry is due to a number of factors: women often did not sign their names to the works they produced, designating themselves simply as the heirs of the master printer; and letters and archival documents that might reveal something of their business activities are both scarce and difficult to locate. In fact, it is difficult to calculate the precise number of women in the business during this period, much less determine any indirect influence they may have had as the wives of printers. Traces of this activity would be entirely elusive were it not for the books that were the products of their labors. The subject merits attention, not only because it casts light on women in industry in the Renaissance, but because it illuminates more generally the means by which presses maintained their continuity. Women printers, publishers, and book sellers are not simply interesting aberrations in the field of Renaissance and Reformation book production but important contributors to our understanding of how the trade functioned.

One of the most interesting details to emerge from an examination of incunables and contemporary documents is the early role played by women in the new technology of the ars artificialiter scribendi. The much-studied diary of the Florentine press of the convent of San Jacopo di Ripoli reveals that the order's Dominican nuns worked as compositors under the direction of the press's managers, Brothers Domenico da Pistoia and Piero da Pisa. The press's first work was the Donatus of 1476. The nuns set the type for works by Plutarch, Suetonius, Augustine, and Petrarch. Two nuns, Sisters Marietta and Rosarietta, worked on Boccaccio's Decameron -- a fact that has struck more than one critic as "alquanto strano."(6) The nuns' involvement in the press is more comprehensible. As monasteries had long been centers for the copying of manuscripts, the establishment of a press provides evidence of the monks' effort to exploit the new technology. While monks did most of the copying, in some rare instances nuns also worked as copyists and miniaturists. Members of the Ripoli convent had copied manuscripts before the two Brothers' establishment of a press, when Sisters Angela Rucellai and Lucrezia Panciatichi, for example, had illuminated choral works for the convent of Santa Maria Novella.

A number of imprints also testify to women's early activity in the book trade. Estellina Conat, wife of the printer Abraham Conat in Mantua, reveals that she assisted with the typesetting of a Hebrew book, Bechinat Olam (Investigation of the World, c. 1476 or 1477). Anna Rugerin of Augsburg was the first woman to sign her name in a colophon -- in the Sachsenspiegel and Formulare und Teusch rhetorica, both published in 1484. But while the extant books bearing the names of women printers and publishers constitute an invaluable resource, they offer an incomplete and ultimately unsatisfactory view of women's activity in this profession.

There are several ways to approach the topic of women printers. One might produce a story of persistence and success in the face of oppression, or one might investigate the workings of a critical and historical tradition that consistently overlooks the existence of women printers. But I am more interested, for the moment, in examining the material conditions that enabled women to emerge in a profession that was, to say the least, an unusual one for them. Few scholars have attempted to clarify the business practices of these women or to treat their activities in terms of a more general social history. This examination will therefore address these oversights as it focuses on women who worked as printers, publishers, and booksellers in Italy between 1475 and 1620. Such women include the nuns who worked for the Ripoli press in Florence; Angela and Laura Bianzago, who managed Bernardino Benali's bookshop in Padua; Estellina Conat, who helped print a book in Mantua; Antonina Koln, who printed a book in Siena Elisabetta Rusconi, Luchina Ravani, and Veronica Sessa -- the first a printer and the latter two publishers in Venice; the Vicentine printer and bookseller Anna Giovanni; Paola Blado, Lucrezia Dorico, Cecilia Tramezzino, and Girolama Cartolari, who worked as publishers and booksellers in Rome; Agnoletta and Margherita Marescotti, who worked respectively as a bookseller and printer in Florence; Clara Giolito de' Ferrari, who printed books in Trino; and Caterina De Silvestro, a printer in Naples.(7) When relevant, I will refer to women indirectly involved in the printing business, such as the wives and daughters of Italian master printers, especially as such indirect means are themselves crucial to the emergence of women in the profession.

Given the paucity of biographical information on these women, we can provide a more historical account of their activities if we take into account a broader range of primary and secondary material than has been considered in the past. Recent work on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian printers has clarified the business and family connections of some of these women while uncovering more works published by women. As scholars have often not explored the social context of their labors, a consideration of studies on women in industry in the Renaissance and on the legal status of widows can further enhance our understanding of their stature in society. An examination of the activity of women in the book trade in France is also helpful, as the circumstances under which a woman came into the direction of a press are similar in both countries. Finally, attention to archival documents can shed light on the business practices of some of these women.

Before turning to the material conditions that facilitated women's entry into the printing trade, we might recall briefly the kind of work generally undertaken by women in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. While the data on women's employment before the seventeenth century is not extensive, neither is it as bleak as what one historian has recently characterized as the "three predominant life options open to medieval women," namely marriage, monasticism, and prostitution.(8) While the trades taken up by women do not reflect the diversity of those practiced by men, women worked in a variety of jobs in the areas of domestic service, textiles, and provisioning. Before the sixteenth century, women dominated the textile trades; they worked at such tasks as weaving, spinning, the combing of cloth, and lacemaking, as well as at more specialized jobs, including the making of wimples, silk ribbons, gloves, and buttons. According to Judith C. Brown and Jordan Goodman, by 1604 sixty-two percent of weavers and roughly forty percent of all wool workers in Florence were women.(9) The matriculation entries for the Arte dei Medici e Speziali in Florence -- the guild in which men in the book trade were enrolled -- include names of several women, the majority of whom worked as tavern keepers, combsellers, hatmakers, bread bakers, and candlemakers.(10) Many women, however, never entered the labor force, helping their families instead at home with domestic duties until their marriage.

Printing differed from these other professions in a number of ways. To begin with, printers had to be literate at least in the vernacular as well as in Latin if they wished to produce a range of texts.(11) They entered the trade through apprenticeships, which generally lasted three to four years. While apprenticeships were available to women in textile-related occupations, only men could be apprenticed as printers. Craftsmen's guilds usually allowed women to take over the business after the death of their husbands. For a woman to become a printer or publisher, the social equivalent of a harmonic convergence was necessary she had to have a father or husband who was willing to impart knowledge about the business to her; she had to be a widow with either no sons or minor children at the time of her husband's death; she had to be educated and possess managerial and business skills; and she had to have a network of family, scholarly, and business contacts. If we are to understand how a woman could assume the management of a press, it is important to clarify the conditions that contributed to her acquisition of the necessary expertise.

The most notable difference between printing and trades commonly practiced by women was the level of education required. The literacy rate of printing families, by the very nature of the skills required for jobs such as the setting of type, proofreading, bookbinding, the selling of books, even the casting of type, was considerably above that of other members of the artisan class. While some Renaissance pedagogical theorists believed that learning led to the loss of chastity, Juan Luis Vives and Lodovico Dolce argued that teaching women to read was useful, but that the material itself ought to be carefully regulated. In his Dialogo della institutione delle donne (1545), Dolce stated that a girl should be taught the kind of vernacular reading and writing skills that would be helpful in her future roles as wife and mother.(12) Unless a woman was destined for a monastic life, she did not study Latin. Moreover, Leonardo Bruni and Lodovico Dolce in their respective De studiis et litteris (1423-26) and Dialogo della institutione delle donne linked the studia humanitatis to public roles. As women could not attend university, work as lawyers and civil servants, or enter the priesthood, there was little reason for them to become familiar with the Latin curriculum. Consequently, whether girls from the upper and middle classes attended schools of Christian doctrine and female monasteries, or studied at home with a tutor, they followed a vernacular curriculum which included authors like Dante, Petrarch, and Bembo. One might recall that only a small percentage of families in the artisan class, however, sent their children to schools. Many tradesmen and craftsmen preferred their daughters to remain at home until the time of their marriages. Since few printers could afford to hire a private tutor, much less forgo the invaluable free labor that a daughter's presence at home could provide, either one or both parents in a printing family would undertake the education of the children. In the event of the master printer's death, his wife invariably became the children's "tutrice." The Venetian publisher and bookseller Melchiorre Sessa, for example, specifically requests in his will (12 November 1566), that his wife Veronica "always be owner and mistress of her goods while alive, governing our children in charitable love."(13) If a daughter remained at home, she could help with domestic chores as well as perform such simple duties in the atelier as hanging up freshly punted sheets for drying or removing paper from the tympan.

The kind of education that a printer could impart to a daughter, however, should not be underestimated. Christophe Plantin, the distinguished Antwerp printer, taught his five daughters to read by the age of four or five, and his four eldest daughters worked for Plantin as proofreaders in his shop. The eldest daughter, Magdalene, carried the proofs of a folio Polygot Bible to the home of the scholar Montanus and read from the originals in Hebrew, Chaldean, Syriac, Greek, and Latin. When one scholar asked a friend of the Plantin family about Magdalene's astonishing linguistic abilities, he was told that she could read the works but did not understand their content.(14) Printers' wives, too, needed to be literate if they were to help their sons acquire the knowledge necessary to take over the father's business. Perrette Bade eldest daughter of the Parisian humanist/publisher Josse Bade and later wife of the printer Robert I Estienne, was also very accomplished. Perrette, having been brought up by her scholar-father, insisted that Latin be the language of her household, in order to communicate better with the humanists who frequented her husband's home and establishment. While the examples of Plantin's daughters and Perette Bade are exceptional, they offer some index of the kind of education that a printer might offer his children. Maria Torresani, the daughter of Andrea Torresani and wife of Aldus Manutius, arranged an Impressive education for her son Paolo, who eventually took over the family business: Paolo studied with the Greek scholar Johannes Baptista Egnatius, one of Poliziano's students.(15) On a more modest scale, Lucrezia Dorico, a member of the Roman-based Dorico family of printers, arranged an apprenticeship for her son Ottavio with Antonio Blado, the papal printer. Lucrezia could easily have arranged for Ottavio to be apprenticed in the family's own atelier, but in selecting Blado, one of Rome's most prolific and accomplished printers, Lucrezia secured Ottavio a superior training.

As Miriam Usher Chrisman has pointed out, printers' daughters occupied a special position in the trade. Often not only literate but familiar with the mechanics of the trade, a printer's daughter brought invaluable business and family connections into any marriage.(16) A printer's daughter or widow also brought to a marriage benefits of a more material nature. Her dowry often consisted of stock -- a press, books, or other related equipment -- in addition to money. The printer Nicolo Bevilacqua, for example, furnished his second daughter with a dowry worth 1,000 ducats in books and printing. Wealthier bookmen were in a position to provide their daughters with more substantial dowries: in 1592 the printer Giovanni Varisco provided a dowry of 3,000 ducats for his daughter, who married a merchant. Similarly, Pietro Brea, inherited a press from his wife, Margherita Bufalini, the widow of the Messinese printer Fausto Bufalini.

Historians and bibliographers have often characterized the world of bookmen as close-knit. Printers tended to marry within the industry. The matrimonial alliances of Paola, the daughter of the painter Antonello da Messina, exemplify, if somewhat spectacularly, this tendency. After the death of her first husband, Bartolomeo di Bonacio da Messina, she married Venice's first printer, John of Speyer. After his death in 1470 she married in succession two other printers, John of Cologne and Rinaldus of Nijmegen. In 1477 she arranged the marriage of her daughter Girolama to the bookseller Gaspar of Dinslaken. Paola may have been, as Martin Lowry estimates, an "astonishing lady," but financial rather than sentimental considerations may have governed her marriages.(17) Other notable marital alliances within the printing industry include Aldus Manutius's marriage to Maria Torresani, the daughter of his partner Andrea Torresani; Aldus Manutius the younger's marriage to one of Bernardo Giunti's daughters; the marriages of two of the three daughters of the printer Giorgio Rusconi to bookmen-his eldest daughter Daria to the printer Alessandro Paganino and another daughter, Giulia, to Niccolo Garanta, a bookseller and publisher; the union of Cristofano Marescotti's daughter Caterina with the printer Domenico Magliani; and the marriage of Antonio Blado's daughter Agnese to the printer Giovanni Osmarino Giliotti, as well as his son Stefano's marriage to Luigi Dorico's daughter Livia. As Lowry notes, such dynastic unions testify to "solidarity in the press-world."(18)

In addition to the frequency of marriages within the industry, the familial nature of the business contributed to the maintenance of close ties within the press world. A printer's familial and intellectual associations often determined his success. The guild itself encouraged close family ties. While presses generally devolved from father to son, brother partnerships and uncle/nephew associations were also common.(19) If the father was a native of the city in which he worked, his son usually did not have to pay a matriculation fee upon entering the guild.

Finally, a printer's actual living conditions helped familiarize his wife and daughters with the mechanics of the trade. Historians of the book trade have often noted that the boundary between a printer's atelier and his living quarters was often indistinguishable; in Gian Ludovico Masetti Zannini's words, there existed a "compenetrazione tra le due sfere."(20) In some respects the world of printing was a kind of enclave, as presses were clustered in neighborhoods. Many printing fimns in Rome were located around the Piazza Parione (now Piazza Pasquino). In Florence the presses were centered around the Badia, which housed the shops of the city's paper merchants. The Giunti, for example, rented space in that neighborhood. Among the other bookmen whose shops were in the same area during the latter half of the sixteenth century are the printer Giorgio Marescotti, the bookseller Lorenzo di Giovanni Barischi, and the printers Antonio di Stefano Guiducci and his son Alessandro, all four of whom lived on Via Condotta, one of the streets leading into the Badia (and still dominated today by stationers and engravers).

Craftsmen's houses of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries usually consisted of two- and three-story buildings, ten to twelve feet fronting on the street, twenty feet deep, and a household garden in the back.(21) In Italian towns these were often row houses constructed of stone. The shop was generally situated on the ground floor, and the family's living quarters on the second floor. If the artisan was well-off, his living quarters might include a third floor, which afforded private space for himself and his wife. Apprentices and servants occupied the top floor. A printer's shop, however -- which required good lighting for the setting of type and presswork -- might have been located on the top floor of the dwelling. Even if the duties of a printer's wife were limited to the management of the household, she could not avoid some contact with the business, as journeymen often lived with the master craftsman. For example, Erasmus, in writing about his experiences as a guest in the Aldus/Torresani establishment, reported that the firm employed fifteen workers.(22) Antonio Blado's employees included the "tirator" ("puller") Nicolaus de Supino, the "battitor" ("beater") Bartholomeus, the compositor Franciscus Mediolanensis, "Il Romanesco che sta in bottega et vende libri," Antonius Bononiensis (whose occupation is not specified), and the "intagliator" ("engraver") Leonardus Venetus. With the exception of Leonardus, "all these men work and stay continually with the aforementioned master printer Antonio."(23)

If we progress now from a consideration of the exterior of a printer's establishment and its location to an examination of the home's interior, we can see even more clearly the "compenetrazione" between atelier and home. Even the furnishing of her home contributed to a woman's familiarity with the trade. Inventories of a printer's estate and shop offer an unusual glimpse into the family's living conditions. As Giorgio Marescotti died intestate, the Magistrato de'Pupilli in Florence ordered a number of inventories of the home and shop to be taken. In an inventory of 14 February 1602 in one "stanzino" the estimators recorded "un paio di bilancie" ("a couple of balances"), "sei compositori)" ("six composing sticks"), "un martello per battere libri" ("a hammer for beating books"), and "una canna da misurare" ("a measuring stick") alongside domestic items such as "un cassone di albero" ("a wooden chest"), "un telaio da nastri" ("a loom"), and "un assito che tramezza la cucina" ("a screen that divides the kitchen"). Similarly, the estimators found "cinquanta due punzoni et sessantuna madre della musica di parigi" ("fifty-two punches and sixty-one Parisian music matrices") interspersed among "dua guanciali," "una materassa di lane," and "un paio di lenzuola" ("two pillows, a wool mattress, and a pair of sheets") in Giorgio's and Agnoletta's bedroom.(24) One might well ask how a printer's wife and children could not become familiar with the tools of the trade when they lived among the very instruments themselves.

Thus the comparatively high literacy rate of printing families, the continuity fostered by marriage within the trade, the close-knit world of bookmen, the presence of the guild, the familial aspect of the business, and the proximity of household to atelier, all contributed to a woman's acquisition of the knowledge necessary to operate a press. Certainly any direct involvement on her part in the production of books would further enhance her expertise, as would the general experience she -- or her children -- would gain by offering the master invaluable free labor. We have seen that Plantin's daughters helped with proofreading and that printers' daughters could perform such simple tasks as hanging up freshly printed sheets for drying. Firsthand testimonies of the actual jobs women performed in the trade, however, are scarce. Estellina Conat was one of the few wives to help her husband print a work while he was still alive. In the Hebrew colophon of Bechinat Olam, Estellina writes: "I, Estellina, wife of my master my husband the honored Rabbi Abraham Conat -- may he be blessed with children and may his days be prolonged, Amen! -- wrote this book, Bechinat Olam, with the aid of the youth Jacob Levi of Provence of Tarascon, may he live." This book was "written," explains Estellina, "with many pens without the aid of miracle" -- in other words with many fonts.(25) From this testimony it would appear that Estellina helped set the type for this book. Unfortunately, we know nothing of the circumstances that led to her involvement in the work's production.

In rare instances women received payment for their work. The diary entry of the Ripoli press for 23 February 1481 press shows that "suor Marietta" was paid "two large florins for part of the composition of the Morgante."(26) In his will (17 September 1517) Bernardino Benali, who worked as a bookseller and printer in Venice in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, left twenty-four ducats to each of his wife's two nieces, the sisters Laura and Angela Bianzago, for their assistance in his business. The two sisters helped Benali "by painting figures, binding books, bathing and preparing paper for printing."(27) The family network, at least in this case, provided an invaluable labor force capable of executing work of both a meticulous nature, for example, illumination, and that of more simple tasks, such as the preparation of sheets for printing.

We have seen how a woman might become familiar with the operation of a press through proximity to printers and their equipment and through learning tasks such as the setting of type, the binding of books, the preparation of sheets for printing, and proofreading. Such a firsthand knowledge of the mechanics of the trade was essential if she was to take on greater responsibilities. The event which invariably caused her to assume a more prominent role was the death of the master printer. Antonina Koln, Caterina De Silvestro, Luchina Ravani, Anna Giovanni, Paola Blado, Lucrezia Dorico, Girolama Cartolari, Agnoletta Marescotti, and Margherita Marescotti began publishing and printing books only after the death of their husbands. Widows in this sense had considerably more independence than other women in the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries. "No wife," as one historian has observed, "could attain the social freedom available to some widows."(28) As the matriarch, a widow had a certain position in both the family and the community, which facilitated her entry into the trade, since guilds often allowed a master craftsman's heirs to continue the family business. Indeed, financial considerations often forced a printer's widow to take over the business, as the death of a husband plunged many widows into poverty. Many craftsman had outstanding debts at the time of their deaths. While the widow of a wealthy merchant or aristocrat could return to her paternal home, or if she had children remain in the house of her marital family, a craftsman's widow often had to work to maintain her family. Widows, whether acting in concert with their husband's wishes or out of necessity, assumed numerous familial and business responsibilities. Most importantly a widow could draw up a will, sell or rent property, arrange apprenticeships for her sons, hire journeymen, provide dowries, and engage in the traffic of goods. Such rights gave widows of printers access to capital -- if not capital itself -- at a time when agency was largely determined by the acquisition of capital.

It is difficult to overestimate the disruption caused by the death of the master printer; the drop in production after his death was often drastic. Printers' widows, if they decided to continue the trade, undertook a variety of measures to insure the continuity of the press. Remarriage to another printer was one common expedient. Margherita Bufalini, wife of the Messinese printer, Fausto Bufalini, married one of her husband's earlier associates, Pietro Brea, within one year of Fausto's death in 1592. After managing her husband's shop on her own for eight years, Caterina De Silvestro, widow of the printer Sigismondo Mayr, married Evangelista da Pavia, one of her husband's apprentices, in 1525.(29) Anna Giovanni, widow of Perin Libraro, while she herself did not remarry, arranged the marriage of her daughter Sabina to the bookseller Francesco Grossi, an alliance that assured Anna a competent heir to the family business. In her will (29 May 1596) Anna names Francesco Grossi, "her son-in-law, practiced in business and always known by this testator to be a trustworthy person," as guardian of her son Zampiero.(30)

Some printers' widows, however, did not choose to remarry but instead took over the management of the press themselves, enlisted the aid of relations, or hired journeymen. Nicolo Bevilacqua's son and universal heir, Giovanni Battista, was only eight years old at the time of his father's death in August 1573. His widow, Teodosia, asked her son-in-law Francesco Ziletti to help her run the press; Ziletti managed the business until Giovanni Battista reached maturity in 1584. Similarly, Luchina Ravani, widow of the printer Pietro Ravani, continued her husband's business with the aid of other printers, among them Giovanni Varisco, until her son Vittorio came of age. As one notarial document of 19 January 1540 makes clear, Luchina was free to run "a suo conto la stamperia."(31) After Melchiorre Sessa's death, Veronica Sessa was able to draw upon an extensive network of family connections. Her brothers Ottaviano and Giacomo ran the publishing and bookselling business until her sons Giovanni Battista, Bernardino, and Melchiorre came of age. The business flourished under Veronica's efficient management; she expanded the family's holdings and the firm's production. Notarial documents in the Venetian archives show that Veronica engaged in a number of business activities: she negotiated agreements with printers, arranged dowries, and bestowed power of attorney on others to act on behalf of the Sessa firm. Veronica frequently engaged Benedetto De Bollis, her foreman, to recover debts and to transact business at book fairs.(32) Perhaps out of gratitude for the many services he rendered to the firm, Veronica provided a dowry of three hundred ducats for De Bollis's wife, Letizia.

Women publishers and booksellers in Rome, among them Paola Blado, Lucrezia Dorico, and Cecilia Tramezzino, also performed a wide range of business transactions. In the beginning of 1567 Paolo Manuzio enlisted the aid of a number of Roman typographers, including Giulio Bolani Accolti, Lucrezia Dorico, Paola Blado, Bartolomeo Toso, Domenico Giglio, and Giuseppe Dell'Angioli, to help print the post-Tridentine Breviarium romanum. This massive undertaking engaged the Aldine firm for two years.(33) Paolo had initially invited two prominent publishers, Christophe Plantin and Nicolo Bevilacqua, to collaborate on the printing of the breviary, but since both printers were occupied with other productions, Paolo decided to turn to local printers. Paolo Manuzio's account books show payments to both Lucrezia Dorico and Paola Blado for their assistance. The entry regarding Lucrezia Dorico states: "Lucrezia Dorico, printer at the Coronari, must pay 50 scudi on 19 February 1569. Orazio Fosco paid them as it is written in his journal 129 and Lucrezia promised to print the Breviary well and accurately according to the copies that messer Paolo Manuzio will provide, 14 scudi for the bale (balla) and all the expenses from the paper on, as messer Giulio Bolano does."(34) In c. 1567-69 Paola Blado participated in another lucrative publication when she printed an edition of Saint Bonaventure's works. Paola's partner in this production was Fabrizio Galletti, who paid for the paper while the Blado firm undertook the printing of the work.(35) Cecilia Tramezzino undertook many business dealings as well: after the death of her father, Francesco Tramezzino, she settled his debts, took over his bookselling business, and engaged Giacomo Torneri to manage the Tramezzino bookshop in Rome while she was absent from the city.(36) Anna Giovanni also proved a competent successor to her husband Perin Libraro, a printer and bookseller in Vicenza. Anna's decision on to purchase a paper mill in 1593 reflects her entrepreneurial instincts in assuring the Perin establishment a steady supply of paper -- always the most expensive part of any publication. Anna eventually sold her share of the mill to her co-purchaser, one Francesco Belloni, perhaps because its operation required too specialized an expertise.(37) Despite the failure of this particular venture, Anna's activities as a bookseller and printer proceeded smoothly until her death in 1596.

A printer's heirs were in a better position to succeed if the press was established. The majority of women who continued their husband's or father's activities as printers took over businesses that had been in the family for at least one generation. The value of such continuity should not be underestimated: publishers and authors preferred working with printers with a proven record of reliability and quality, and authorities tended to grant privileges to a press which had already been in business for a number of years. Clara Giolito de' Ferrari, for example, was a member of one of the most important printing dynasties of the Italian Renaissance. Before Clara's assumption of duties around 1585, Giovanni Giolito de'Ferrari, his son Giovanni Francesco, and Bernardino Stagnino had worked in Trino as printers and publishers. (It is not known if Clara was Giovanni Francesco's daughter or widow.) Clara operated the press, the only one in Trino, from 1579 to 1595, printing official edicts for the Gonzaga dukes.

In requests for privileges printers typically noted how long they had been in business. Both Giorgio Marescotti, who took over Lorenzo Torrentino's establishment in Florence, and his heirs referred in their various appeals to the family's long service to the Grand Duke.(38) In some rare instances authorities rewarded faithful service. After Antonio Blado's death in 1567, first Pius V and then Gregory XIII conferred on Paola Blado and her sons the title of papal printer, along with a token annual salary of four ducats.(39) This privilege enabled Blado's heirs to maintain the firm throughout the sixteenth century.

An examination of the works women printed provides further insight into their business and scholarly associations. Generally women did not depart from the editorial programs established by their husbands. However, women printers occasionally introduced innovations of a technical nature. Caterina De Silvestro, for example, added italic type and ornamental letters to Sigismondo Mayr's stock of gothic and beautiful roman types after his death in 1517. Caterina's acquisition of italic stock reveals both an awareness of innovation elsewhere -- Aldus Manutius introduced italic type in Venice in 1501 -- and a willingness to invest. Evangelista da Pavia, who succeeded Caterina as the firm's manager in 1526, also employed these new types. Caterina also introduced the use of a device, a large circle containing two rings with a Christian monogram in the middle surrounded by a corona.(40) Clara Giolito de' Ferrari's entry into the trade is signaled by her modification of one of Giovanni Francesco Giolito de' Ferrari's devices -- a heraldic shield bearing his initials F.G.F. supported by either two soldiers or two angels. When she took over Clara changed the initials to C.G.F.(41)

The majority of women printers, however, did not sign their names to the works they produced, preferring to designate themselves simply as the heirs of the master printer. Such a practice is by no means confined to female heirs; sons also frequently signed their works in this way. Among the few women in this period to sign their names in colophons are Caterina De Silvestro, Elisabetta Rusconi, Girolama Cartolari, and Clara Giolito de' Ferrari. Elisabetta Rusconi, widow of the Venetian-based printer Giorgio Rusconi, printed books briefly after her two sons, Giovanni Francesco and Giovanni Antonio, ceased printing for unknown reasons. After Giorgio's death in 1521, the sons printed works from 1521-26. Elisabetta then printed books between 1526-27.(42) The colophon of her 1527 edition of Ariosto's Orlando furioso reads: "Stampato in l'inclita Citta di Venetia per Madonna Helisabetta de Rusconi." At the beginning of their activity as printers both Caterina De Silvestro and Girolama Cartolari identify themselves as their husbands' heirs. In the works she printed from 30 December 1517 to 12 June 1522 Caterina's colophons underline her association with Sigismondo Mayr. The colophon in her 1517 edition of Giacomo Maza's Tractato nominato amatorium reads "Impresso in Napoli per Madona Caterina qual fo mogliere de magistro Sigismondo Mayr." After June 1522, however, Caterina seldom identified herself as Mayr's widow, preferring to state that her works were printed "in aedibvs d[ominae] Catherinae de Silvestro." Perhaps by then Caterina was known locally as a printer.(43)

One of the most productive women printers of this period was Girolama Cartolari. After working as a printer in Perugia and Pesaro, her husband, Baldassare Cartolari, settled in Rome in 1540. Girolama assumed direction of the family business after Baldassare's death in June 1543 and published her first work, Enea Falconi's Tractatus reservationum papalium ac legatorum, in June 1543. Generally, Girolama did not deviate from Baldassare's editorial program: the couple printed ecclesiastical announcements, papal bulls [fig. 1], regulations issued by the Apostolic chamber, orations, anti-Lutheran tracts, authors who frequented the court of Paul III (Michelangelo Biondo, Andrea Turini, and Luca Guarico), and Umbrian writers (Gaspare da Perugia, Matteo Spinelli, and Mambrino Roseo). Girolama maintained the press for sixteen years; her output from 1543 to 1547 remained fairly steady, ranging from eight to twenty-six works a year. From June 1548, however, the number of publications plummeted, with Girolama printing no more than three works a year and often only one. The last work to bear her name was a 1559 pamphlet, Di Roma et di Milano le alegrezze per la pace tra il catholico Re di Spagna et il christianissimo Re di Francia.


Scholars have noted the decline of the Cartolari press after 1547. In his discussion of the place of publication of an announcement, Il viaggio et li grandiss trionfi . . . fatti in la Citta d'Urbino per la entrata della S. Vittoria Farnese, which Girolama published in January 1548, Francesco Barberi notes that the press had changed its location from the piazza di Parione "a mezzo Borgho di Santo Pietro." "Who knows," speculates Barberi, "whether this later and perhaps last, transfer of the press might not be the cause or effect of its diminished activity of which we know only sixteen productions in eleven years."(44) Financial problems may have occasioned the firm's relocation, though given the paucity of documentation on Girolama's life and professional activities, the reasons for the decline of the press cannot ultimately be known. However, scholars have overlooked another possible cause for the demise of the firm -- Girolama's loss of important business associates, namely the Venetian bookseller and publisher Michele Tramezzino and the writer Michelangelo Biondo, both of whom had regularly employed Girolama to print works. Biondo had works printed by Girolama until his departure from Rome in 1545, but upon his return to Venice he established a press in his home where he printed his works himself; Michele Tramezzino was her publisher between 1543 and 1547.

Tramezzino had eight works printed by Girolama Cartolari in 1544, the majority of which were anti-Lutheran treatises by Lancellotto Politi. The location of Tramezzino's and Cartolari's respective businesses on Via del Pellegrino were conducive to collaboration. But while Michele Tramezzino published numerous books in Rome up to 1547, from 1547-58 he worked largely in Venice, his place of residence.(45) The last collaboration between Girolama and Michele Tramezzino was an edition of Martin Ravault's Flosculi beneficiales et alii tractatus ad practicam Romanae Curiae attinentes (1547). Michele Tramezzino did not publish another work in Rome until 1558, when he brought out the second volume of Quintiliano Mandosio's In regulis cancelleriae Apostolicae, printed by Antonio Blado, with whom he had also worked regularly in the past.

Unfortunately there is little indication of the reasons for which Michele Tramezzino ceased collaborating with Girolama Cartolari. The books themselves do not reveal anything substantial. The Cartolari press, whether under the direction of Baldassare or Girolama, was a modest operation, one not especially known for the quality of its productions. Perhaps collaboration with the Cartolari press was less feasible after the departure of Tramezzino. It is possibly more than a coincidence that Michele Tramezzino's diminished activities as a publisher in Rome coincide with the decline of the Cartolari press. We have seen the importance of such business relations in the printing of the Breviarium romanum,where Paolo Manuzio acted as publisher to many Roman printers. Barberi speculates that Paolo Manuzio's later financial difficulties were largely due to the printer's lack of any "senso pratico degli affari."(46) Whereas Aldus Manutius had a shrewd business partner in Andrea Torresani, Paolo did not have any such collaborator. Partnerships between publishers and printers were essential, as they enabled each party to divide the financial responsibility and libility. Roman printers, as one anonymous contemporary observed, "are so very poor that no one can print even one book on his own."(47)

The financial difficulties that beset smaller operations are also evident in the travails experienced by Giorgio Marescotti's heirs. The printer died intestate at the beginning of April 1602, after which Giorgio's widow, Agnoletta di Benedetto Bati, and his oldest son, Cristofano, subsequently became embroiled in a protracted disagreement over the division of the estate. The stages of the litigation are amply documented in the files of the Magistrato de' Pupilli in Florence. The magistrates ordered a number of inventories and valuations of the shop before effecting a division of the goods. At his death Giorgio had many outstanding debts, the majority of which consisted of unpaid dowries. To pay these debts and others, the family had to sell much of the firm's equipment.

This extended litigation over the estate was not conducive to business. Between 1602-04 Giorgio's heirs published only a smattering of titles. Cristofano did not acquire control of the firm until late 1604. During this period Agnoletta worked as a bookseller, for after Giorgio's death the magistrates had given her license "to sell the said books in the best way that she can with the greatest advantage possible."(48) The fate of one manuscript in Agnoletta's possession, however, indicates the difficulties she had plying her trade. In a letter of 18 December 1603 to Belisario Vinta, the court auditore, Agnoletta describes a work which she would like shown to the Grand Duke: "In the past days I gave that Arabic manuscript to your Excellency which your Excellency promised in his extreme kindness to show to the most Serene Grand Duke. I now beg your Excellency to recall this service because I have need of it. And I place everything again in your Excellency's hands, begging you to excuse me for assuming such familiarity with you. I do this because you have always borne and bear great affection for our family."(49) Three years later this "libro moresco," a manuscript of the Koran, was still in Agnoletta's possession.(50) Having failed to sell the work in Florence, the family enlisted the aid of Pietropagolo Bizzari, Margherita's brother, to sell the book, along with a chest of fonts in Venice. They seem to have respected Bizzari's previous business connections: "The said Signor Colonello Pietropagolo Bizzari has corresponded with and competed with more and different Turks from the Levant and with other Muslims."(51)

On Cristofano's death in September 1611, his widow Margherita di Simone Pugliani assumed management of the firm until 1617. The Marescotti name does not appear in any publications after this date [fig. 2].(52) A brief examination of Margherita's requests for privileges shows the difficulties under which a printer's heirs -- especially female ones -- operated. Significantly, Modesto di Filippo di Bernardo Giunta anticipates Margherita's problems in a letter to Belisario Vinta. In the letter (ante 15 September 1611, date of Vinta's reply) Modesto seeks the title, by no means for the first time, of granducal printer. Modesto begins by briefly relaying the history of the title -- to date held only by Lorenzo Torrentino -- and of the printing of official edicts, laws, and announcements in Florence. After Torrentino's death, Giorgio Marescotti took over his premises and began printing this material. Cristofano Marescotti then took over the printing of these pamphlets. After Cristofano's death, however, Modesto pointedly observes, his heirs are in a poor position to continue the business -- "[Cristofano] not having male children, and having little means of being able to continue the press."(53) Modesto is not mistaken in his assessment of the Marescotti heirs' predicament. Who better than a descendent of one of Italy's most successful and flourishing printing dynasties could be more aware of the importance of "figlioli masti" (i.e., maschi) for the continuity of a press?


Accounts of financial hardship pervade Margherita's various applications for the privilege of printing laws and edicts. Margherita first obtained this privilege on 21 September 1611 in order to support her daughter Caterina after Cristofano's death (see appendices 1 and 2).(54) By 22 May 1613 Caterina had married the printer Domenico Magliani. Nevertheless, Margherita sought a renewal of the privilege in order to make the dowry payments (see appendix 3). A final request of September 1616 also alludes to financial difficulties: Margherita needed the money that the enterprise would bring in order to support Caterina and her two children, who had returned home after Domenico Magilani was forced to go into exile for the murder of one of his workmen (see appendix 4). In addition to these family problems, Margherita's difficulties were exacerbated by her dependence on outside workers. Unlike Paola Blado and Veronica Sessa, Margherita was not able to draw on a family network to help run the business.(55)

As Margherita Marescotti's difficulties reveal, financial and familial obligations often forced a printer's heirs to assume the management of the press. Few women managed to effect a successful transition. As the examples of Paola Blado, Anna Giovanni, and Veronica Sessa show, women were more likely to succeed if they took control within well established family networks. Success also depended on the renewal of preexisting privileges: Clara Giolito de' Ferrari, Paola Blado, and Margherita Marescotti kept their businesses intact-if only briefly -- largely through printing official edicts and pamphlets for the Gonzaga dukes, the papacy, and the Florentine government respectively. Finally, business contacts were crucial as Girolama Cartolari's collaboration with Michele Tramezzino and Michelangelo Biondo suggests. Failure, however, was more common. Few firms could continue printing without a break. Each generation had to begin again to accumulate its capital and to acquire the contracts and titles that would bring business to the firm.(56) Both male and female heirs found it difficult to maintain the master printer's level of production.

Margherita Marescotti's travails testify to a contradiction in the careers of women printers whose status, even as they acted as heads of the firm, was provisional. Women could not aspire to be printers; their participation in this craft was borne of necessity. It is for the sake of family concerns -- maintaining the business for a male heir too young to take over, making dowry payments, supporting one's family -- that women could print books. Their careers are supplemental: they transpire, for the most part, between the death of a husband or father and the coming of age of a son or a remarriage. Women gain entry into the industry by affirming values which ultimately prevent further progress. They are allowed to work as printers and publishers under certain conditions, but these circumstances are generally seen as exceptional. Society did not easily envision female entrepreneurs entrusted with the control of large amounts of capital. The activities of women printers and publishers were defined by an array of contingencies of which it is indispensable to know the social and economic structure.

Appendix I(a)

Reg. Dir. 15, f. 642. Margherita Marescotti seeks a privilege for the printing of edicts and other official material.

Madonna Margherita vedova donna, fu di Cristofano di Giorgio NIarescotti franzese libraio, et stampatore di V.A. gli espone, come sendosi stampati li Bandi dalli sopradetti sue consorte, et suocero anni 45, nel qual tempo hanno fedelmente servito L.A.A.V.V. desidera, per benefitio massime d'una fanciulla rimasta da marito di detto defunto, perserverare in tale avviamento, che consiste specialmente nelli Bandi , patenti, polize, et bullettini , con aiuto di periti nell'arte; percio ricorre genuflessa all'A.V. supplicandola, che degni commettere, che li sue Magistrati si vaglino, mentre saranno teen serviti, della medesima Bottega del Marescotti, che si trove piena delli gia fatti band), perche altrimenti seguirebbe danno evident), a detta case, et di tutto potra L.A.V. sperare da nostro Signore ogni maggior felicita.

l'auditore Antella informi\Belisario Vinta 21 settembre 1611.

Appendix II

Reg. Dir. 15, f. 646-47v. Niccolo dell'Antella summarizes three recent petitions for the printing of official material and offers an overview of their printing after the death of Lorenzo Torrentino.

Essendo morto alle settimane passate Christofano di Giorgio Marescotti franzese libraio nella bottega del quale si stampavano Bandi patent), et Bullettini attenenti ai Magistrati et luoghi public) sono ricorsi gl'infrascritti tre per ottenere grazia di stampare loro detti Bandi et altro quali song.

Madonna Margherita vedova moglie del detto Christofano quale si offerisce far seguitare da periti detta stamperia, allegando il bisogno per sostentar se, et una figliuola rimastali di detto suo marito.

Antonio di Stefano Guiducci et Alessandro suo figliuoli i quali da certi anni in qua hanno aperto un poco di stamperia, et vorrebbano havere questo Privilegio.

Modesto di Filippo Giunti che e uno de' principal) librari di questa Citta, il quale oltre alla detta faculta, domanda il titolo di stampatore Ducale come gia hebbe Lorenzo Torrentino, allegando che egli et sue Antenati hanno continuato la stamperia in questa Citta piu di anni 150 et oltre all'havere stampati molti libri, et tenuta sempre bottega grossa, et fattine venire molti delli stampati altrove hanno ancor loro continuato di stampare parte delle leggi et bandi attenenti a' Magistrati e trovarsene di presente piu di 20 balle.

Per Informazione dell 'A .V.S. Con questa occasione gli referisco come fino sotto di 5 d'aprile 1547 per instrumento rogato messer Giovambattista Lionardi notaio fiorentino fu convenuto da messer Lelio Torelli in nome del Serenissimo Gran Duca Cosimo con Lorenzo Torrentino che fino all'hora haveva riseduto in Bologna, che aprissi una stamperia in Firenze per stampare libri cosi latini come greci, et volgari, et per cio li furono fatti molti privilegi parte per piu lungo, et parte per piu breve tempo, in virtu del quale Privilegio acquisto il titolo di stampatore Ducale, et come tale venne ad havere la faculta di stampare li bandi patenti et Bullettini attenenti a' Magistrati et luoghi publici della Citta.

Mori detto Lorenzo Torrentino, et la sua bottega fu continuata da Giorgio Marescotti suo allievo nella quale seguito di stampare detti bandi patenti, et bullettini et cosi si ando seguitando mentre visse, ma senza titolo et Privilegio alcuno, et per cio da i Giunti; et da qualunque altro libraio si potevano ristampare i bandi non ci sendo proibizione alcuna, et nella medesima forma si e seguitato di poi in tempo di Christofano suo figliuolo fino alla sua morte seguita come e detto alle settimane passate.

Trovo che gli heredi di Filippo Giunti, che e il medesimo Modesto uno de' sopradetti supplicanti doppo la morte di detto Giorgio fece la medesima instanzia in tempo del Cancelliere messer Giovanni Battista Concino, il quale sotto di 22 di Gennaio 1603 ne dette all'Altezza Serenissima una piena Informazione per la quale si vede che la medesima pretentione haveva ancora Michelagnolo di Bartolomeo Sermatelli di ottenere il nome, et titolo di stampatore Ducale con la medesima faculta di stampare bandi, et altro come sopra, et quanto alli altri Privilegi, che si contengono nell'istrumento fatto con il Torrentino perche si risguardavano cose et promesse particolari, non furono domandate da alcuno di loro. Et havendo voluto sentire ancora li heredi di Giorgio Marescotti referi che piu volte detto Giorgio haveva fatto instanzia d'ottenere detto titolo et privilegio di stampatore Ducale in tempo dell'Altezza Serenissima la quale non si era mai risoluta di volerlo concedere ad alcuno. Si come non lo volse concedere il Serenissimo Gran Duca Francesco et parve che fusse meglio lasciare ciascuno nella sua liberta di stampare et ristampare come meglio giudicassi. Et non trovo che alla detta Relatione di detto Cancelliere Concino venisse mai risoluzione alcuna, et in questo grado e termine resta pendente detto Negozio, che pero viene a restare in faculta dell'Alt. Vostra di risolvere in che maniera si deva procedere. Et quando all'Altezza Vostra paia che non sia bene dare detto titolo ad alcuno di stampatore Ducale, ma che si seguiti come in passato reputo che in ogni modo sia a proposito che si elegga qualchuno, che habbia la faculta di stampare detti bandi patenti et bullettini riservata la medesima faculta alli altri di ristamparli per non dare occasione di monopolio, et di vendere a prezzi ingordi gli stampati come di presente et fino a qui si e osservato senza innovazione alcuna.

Quanto alle persone di tre supplicant). Senza dubbio la stamperia di Modesto e la meglio, anzi non vi e comparatione. Et quanto a Antonio et Alessandro Guiducci non hanno stampa di considerazione et fino a qui non ho visto che stamping altro che certe laudi et cose simili et sono molto poveri si come e povera ancora detta Madonna Margherita vedova moglie di detto Christofano la quale dovendosi servire di mercennarii difficilmente si puo sperare che habbia a poser dare sodisfazione si come con difficolta grande la dava per la poverta il marito. Et quanto a Sermatelli che potrebbono servire al pari di Modesto Giunti et non punto manco non sento che habbino supplicato, et che lo domandino. Et all'Altezza Vostra sta il comandare quanto sia di sue volonta. Et faccendo li umilissima reverenza prego il Signore per la lunghissima et felice sue vita. Di Firenze il di 10 d'ottobre 1611. Di Vostra Altezza Serenissima Humilissimo et devotissimo servitore Niccolo dell'Antella. [Belisario Vinta's decree:] Diasi alla Margarita con l'obbligo da lei proposta per fare questo bene alla figliuola da maritarsi per due anni. Belisario Vinta 21 ottobre 1611.

Appendix III

Reg. Dir. 16, f. 930. Margherita Marescotti seeks a renewal of the privilege of printing edicts in order to make the dowry payments for her daughter Caterina.

Margherita vedova donna fu di Cristofano di Giorgio Marescotti franzese libraio e stampatore di V.A.S. Ia ringrazia dell'elemosina, che un anno fa gli concesse quando li piacque farli grazia che altrui stampatori in Firenze, non potessero stampare per due anni Bandi, legge, lettere, Patenti, bullettini, et altro che occorre a suoi magistrati, fuori della bottega e stamperia solita, accio potessi sgravarsi dal peso d'una fanciulla lasciatali da detto suo marito. Hoggi si truova haverla accasata a un Domenico Magliani libraio parimente, ma perche non puo senza l'aiuto di V.A.S. rispondere a' pagamenti, della dote, ritrovandosi haver tutto 'I suo in Bandi Vecchi, La Supplica che si voglia contentare, di prorogarli, per quel tempo che piacera a V.A.S. Ia medesima faculta di fare stampare in quella bottega e sito solito lei e non altri detti Bandi e altro per servizio de' sue magistrati, che del tutto, ne terra obbligo perpetuo, con obbligo di pregarli dalla maesta di Dio continua felicita.

L'Auditore Antella dice quelche gli occorre Belisario Vinta 22 maggio 1613. [Niccolo dell'Antella's response to Margherita's petition follows.] Per Informatione del sopradetto memoriale della Margherita moglie fu di Christofano di Giorgio Marescotti libraio referisco esser vero che sotto di 21 di ottobre 1611 per benigno et gratioso rescritto di V.A. ottenne per due anni di stampare i band), et che altri che lei non potessi stamparli et questo per carita per allogare una figliuola la quale la medesima supplicante confessa havere maritata ma non havere il comodo di rispondere a pagamenti di quel che ha promesso per dote se da V.A. non viene sollevata con una proroga per quel tempo che piu a V.A. parra il che deve dependere dalla mere grazia di V.A. et a me solo sovviene di poser dire che non si sono sentite doglienze in questo tempo per tal cagione. Et facendoli humilissima reverenza prego il Signore per la lunghissima et felice sue vita. Di case il di 3 di luglio 1613. [Belisario Vinta's decree:] Prorogarsili per altri due anni. Belisario Vinta 7 luglio 1613

Appendix IV

Reg. Dir.18, f. 790. Margherita Marescotti seeks the privilege of printing edicts in order to support Caterina and her two children, who have returned home after Domenico Magliani was forced to go into exile for the murder of one of his workmen.

Margherita vedova donna fu di Cristofano di Giorgio Marescotti franzese devotissima serve di V.A.S. con reverenza gli espone come sono gia anni sessanta et piu che essi Marescotti servono per gratia speciale d' V.A.S. tutti li magistrati di Firenze a stampare li bandi bullettini comandamenti et altro che alla stampa gli occorre mettere. Et dopo la morte di Cristofano marito gia dell'oratrice V.A.S gli confermo il medesimo privilegio, atteso si trovava una figlia da marito, a fine di poterla condurre, la quale essa marito, ma stante l'homicidio commesso detto suo genero essa esponente ha havuto a ripigliarsi in case la figliuola con due nipotini, et va vivendo con il guadagno della stamperia. Hora essendo passato il tempo del privilegio, di nuovo ella ricorre a' piedi di V.A.S. che per sue gratia voglia restare servita confermarli il medesimo privilegio per anni dieci a fine che ella posse tirare innanzi et allevare detta sue famiglia, et non habbino ad andare dispersi obbligandosi diligentemente et fedelmente servire sicome per tanto lungo tempo hanno fatto e sue antenati, del che sempre sara tenuta con detti sue nipotini et figliuola pregare nostro Signore per ogni sue maggiore grandezza et felicita.

(*) Research for this article was made possible by grants from the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti, Florence, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the University of Virginia and University of Rome Scholar Exchange Program. I am grateful to the staffs of the Archivio di Stato, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Biblioteca Riccardiana, and Biblioteca Moreniana in Florence; the Biblioteca Angelica, Biblioteca Casanatense, and Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Vittorio Emanuele in Rome; and the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice for their courtesy and assistance. I would like to thank Conor Fahy, Paul Grendler, and Martin Lowry for their comments on an earlier draft of this study. I am also indebted to Gino Corti for his advice on the transcription of these documents. All translations are mine.

(1) Estienne, 26: "Sea praeter illa omnia quae ignorantia typographorum ac typographarum (hoc enim ad cumulandam huius artis ignominiam restabat, ut etiam mulierculae eam profiterentur) iam invexit male, quis non in dies nova expectanda putet?" I am indebted to James Hankins for this reference.

(2) During the Renaissance the terms printer and publisher designated two separate functions: the publisher was the person who paid for the expenses incurred in printing a work; the printer was the person who did the actual presswork. Most women who worked in the printing industry were either publishers or booksellers. There is some evidence that women worked as compositors. Both the Ripoli nuns and Estellina Conat worked as compositors. To my knowledge women did not work as pressmen, that is, as pullers and beaters.

(3) Mazzuchelli, 2:1251-52. Subsequently G.B. Vermiglioli committed the same error with respect to Girolama Cartolari. Vermiglioli identified Girolama as one of the male members of the Cartolari family of printers in his Biografia degli scrittori perugini e notizie delle opere loro (1829). Vermiglioli's error is reported in Novati, 44.

(4) Novati, 41. See also De Marinis, 101-03.

(5) On women in the book trade, see Lone; Gies; Hamill; Lenkey; and Hudak. On women printers in France, see Postel-Lecocq; Davis; and Beech.

(6) Bologna, 365. On the Ripoli press, see Nesi; Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century Now in the British Museum (hereinafter, BMC) 6:xiii-xiv; Galli; Ridolfi; Noakes; and Rouse.

(7) I compiled my list of women printers and publishers from the indexes of Italian printers found in Brown; Fumagalli; BMC; Indice generale degli incunaboli delle biblioteche d'ltalia; Johnson; Norton; Index Aureliensis; Adams; Borsa; Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Italian Books in the British Library, Ascarelli and Menato, and Le edizioni italiane del XVI secolo.

(8) Cohen, 170.

(9) Brown and Goodman, 78. On women in industry before 1700, see Clark; Vann; and Anderson and Zinsser.

(10) See Archivio di Stato, Florence (hereinafter, ASF) Med. Spez. 14, f. 2, 14v, 33, 52, 54, 56v, 58v, 100, 127v, 131, 133, 142v, 166v, 183, 191, 206, 226v, 230, 246v, 254v, 272v, and 281 for matriculation entries of women in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali.

(11) If a printer did not have a reading knowledge of Latin, he could hire local scholars, schoolteachers, or a priest to help with proofreading. Printers were frequently paid by the author or by the author's patron to publish a book, especially a Latin scholarly work. See Grendler, 1988, 31-33.

(12) On the education of women in the artisan class, see Grendler, 1989, 87-108, and King, 164-72. My remarks on the education of women are adapted from Grendler, 1989, 89.

(13) Cited in Marciani, 521: "sia sempre padrona e madona de la robe in vita sua, et governando li nostri fioli in amor carita." On the Sessa publishing firm, see Norton, 151-52; Vianello and Curi-Nicolardi.

(14) Chrisman, 22.

(15) Lenkey, 331-32, discusses the role of Maria Torresani in the Aldus/Torresani household.

(16) Chrisman, 22.

(17) Lowry, 18. On Paola's various marriages, see Gerulaitis, 21, 24, 29.

(18) Lowry, 153. For more examples of marriages within the industry in Italy, see Marciani, 468-69; and Grendler, 1977, 18.

(19) See Grendler, 1977, 17, on the familial nature of the printing industry. On the guild's encouragement of family ties, see Brown, 88, 253-54.

(20) Zannini, 61. The importance of the proximity of house to shop should not be underestimated. A woman could not become familiar with her husband's trade if it was practiced outside the home. The wives of journeymen or builders, for example, were not in a position to become intimately acquainted with their husband's trade.

(21) Anderson and Zinsser, 355.

(22) Lowry, 76-77

(23) Fumagalli, 1983, 58: "Omnes isti laborant et manent continue apud magistrum Antonium impressorem predictum."

(24) ASF Mag. Pup. 2715, f. 71.

(25) Estellina Conat's remarks are translated from Hebrew to English in Amram, 32. On Abraham Conat's press, see Simonsohn, 681, Colorni, and Dizionario bio grafzeo degli italiarzi (hereinafter, DBI) 7:693-96. See Simonsohn, 680, for a photographic reproduction of Estellina Conat's colophon.

(26) Nesi, 63: "fiorini due larghi per parse della componitura del morgante."

(27) Cited in Cecchetti, 538-39: "pingendo figures ligando libros balneando et aptando cartes ex cause stampandi."

(28) Vann, 195. See also Anderson and Zinsser, 424; and King, 57.

(29) Antonina, wife of Heinrich von Koln, took up with one Giovanni Pollio Lappoli, also known as Andrea Piacentino, after her husband's death in 1505. It is not clear whether the two ever married. Antonina and Andrea Piacentino are known to have printed one work after May 1505 -- Opera della diva Catharina da Siena in rima the colophon is signed "per Donna Antonina de maestro Errigh de Colonia e Andrea Piacentino." Antonina Koln's colophon is cited in BMC, 6:31, n.1.

(30) Cited in Mantese, 11: "suo genero, pratico nel negocio et conosciuto sempre da essa testatrice per persona fedele."

(31) Cited in Curi-Nicolardi, 11.

(32) Marciani, 500-06, lists the business activities of Melchiorre and Veronica Sessa recorded in notarial documents in the Archivio di Stato, Venice.

(33) While it is not known how many breviaries Paolo Manuzio printed, a letter of Mariano Vittori to Pietro Capelletti, gives some idea of the numbers involved: "S. Santita ha chiarito che vole che using questo breviario tutti li preti, e quanti frati che usano il breviario romano, che e la religione di S. Francesco, e S. Agostino. Il Manutio ne stampa adesso solo 2 mile e 50 e saranno quest) fra un mese e mezo finiti, ma non usciranno fore, se non ne sono stampati degli altri in bona quantita de migliara." Vittori's letter is cited in Barberi, 1985, 157.

(34) Cited in ibid., 75, n. 1: "Lucretia Dorica stampatrice alli Coronari deve dare a di 19 febbraio [1569] scudi 50 li ha pagati orazio fosco come nel suo g(iornal)le 129 et ha promesso de stampare il breviario bene fidelmente secondo le copie che li dare m(esse)r. paulo manutio a ragione de scudi XIIII la balla a tutte sue spese da la carte in pod, come fa m(esse)r. Giulio Bolano." Lucrezia's exact relation to Luigi and Valerio Dorico has not been established. She was the mother of Ottavio and Vincenzo Dorico. On the Dorico press, see Barberi, 1983,99-146; and Cusick.

(35) See Zannini, 199-200, for a description of Paola Blado's and Fabrizio Galletti's business association.

(36) See ibid., 150,163,185, for descriptions of Cecilia's business activities. Cecilia's will, which contains numerous donations to religious institutions, reveals her prosperity at the time of her death. See ibid., 37, for details of Cecilia Tramezzino's bequests. Tinto, xiv-xv, describes the Tramezzino's financial condition as "florida." The Tramezzino owned 16 houses in Venice. Cecilia Tramezzino and Michele Tramezzino the younger became involved in a lawsuit over the ownership of these houses after the deaths of Michele and Francesco Tramezzino. See ibid., xxxi-xxxiii, for an account of the lawsuit. On Michele Tramezzino's activities as a publisher, see Leicht. Paul Grendler's observation that the Tramezzino firm "declined" in Venice and Rome after the deaths of the firm's two founders bears reconsideration. See Grendler, 1977, 17. Hypotheses concerning the demise of a printing establishment based on bibliographic evidence alone can be misleading. A decrease in production is not necessarily a sign of failure. A printer might also close his establishment because he had been prosperous. Moreover, booksellers were often involved in other businesses. Cusik, 5, notes that one bookseller in Rome also traded cushions and paper for notaries in the Chancellor's office. While the Tramezzino firm published fewer works after the deaths of Michele and Francesco Tramezzino, Cecilia retired from the business after her husband Venturino's death because she was no longer in need of revenue. By 1583 she had sold the bookshop in via del Pellegrino to Marco Antonio Moretti, a bookseller from Perugia, for 3500 scud).

Anna Giovanni also died fairly well off. As Mantese, 10, points out, while Perin Libraro did not have a tomb, at her death Anna had had one constructed for herself in the church of San Biagio Nuovo in Vicenza.

(37) Mantese, 13.

(38) Giorgio Marescotti notes his long service to the Grand Duke in ASF Aud. Rif. 16, f. 40 and Aud. Rif. 11, f. 199. Margherita Pugliani, Gistofano Marescotti's widow, makes the same point in Reg. Dir. 15, f. 642. On the title of granducal printer in Florence, see Biagiarelli.

(39) see Fumagalli, 1893, 39-41, for the text of these documents. On Antonio Blado's press, see Vaccaro-Sofia, 1950; Fumagalli, sell), and vaccaro; and zannini, 61157.

(40) See Manzi, 23, 25, on Caterina's technical innovations.

(41) On the Giolito press in Trino, see Valerani. See Begey, 298-99, for a list of works printed by Clara Giolito de' Ferrari.

(42) Novati, 42-43, speculates that Elisabetta began printing works on her own as a result of a disagreement with Giorgio's sons. Ibid., 46, lists some of the works printed by Elisabetta Rusconi.

(43) It is worth noting that Evangelista da Pavia, in his first productions after his marriage to Caterina, also records his association with Sigismondo Mayr's press. In his 1525 edition of Girolamo Perez's Sacri Ordinis militaris Sancte Marie de Mercede Redemptionis Captivorum, Evangelista's colophon reads: "Fuit hec Quaestio Impressa Neapoli per M. Evangelistam Papiensem: Et eius uxorem heredem M. quondam Sigismundi Mayr Calcographi." See Manzi, 80-96, for a list of the works printed by Caterina De Silvestro.

(44) Barberi' 1983, 152-53: "Chissa che questo ulteriore, e forse ultimo, trasloco della tipografia non fosse cause, o effetto, della sue scemata attivita, della quale si conoscono, per hen undici anni, appena 16 prodotti." This was by no means the firm's only change in location. Until August 1540 the press was located in the campo di Fiore; from March 1542 to September 1544 it was situated in Vico Peregrini; from January 1545 to the end of 1547 in the Piazza di Parione, and from January 1548 the press was situated "a mezzo sorgho di santo Pietro." On the Cartolari press, see Vermiglioli; Martorelli; and Veneziani.

(45) On Girolama Cartolari's and Michele Tramezzino's business association, see Leicht, 359; and Tinto, xxiii.

(46) Barberi, 1985, 80.

(47) Ibid., 73: "son tanto poveretti, che nessuno puo stampare per conto suo pur un libro."

(48) ASF Mag. Pup. 33, f. 81: "di vendere detti libri nel miglior modo che potra con piu vantaggio che sia possibile."

(49) ASF MdP. 920, f. 687: "Alli giorni passati detti a v.s. quello libro moresco che v.s. mi promese per sue amorevolezza di moserare al Gran Duca. Hora pregho v.s. a ricordarsi di tal servitio, perche ho di bisogno et il tutto rimetto a v.s., con pregarla a perdonarmi, se io piglio tal sicurta seco, che questo lo fo perche sempre lei a portato et porta affettione alla nostra casa."

(50) ASF Mag. Pup. 715, f. 1037. In my view the "libro moresco,, to which Agnoletta alludes in her letter to selisario vinta is a manuscript of the Koran. The same Arabic work in the inventory of 11 July 1608 is described as one "libro moresco scritto in Arabico legato in quoio che lasc[i]o Giorgio Mariscotti che lo stimava scudi cento." The work's value -- 100 scudi -- far exceeds the price of a printed book. In a petition of May 1607 this work is further identified as "un libro scritto in lingua Araba, che si dice essere Alcorano." see ASF Mag. Pup. 715, f. 304.

(51) ASF Mag. Pup. 715, f. 304: "Il detto Signor Colonello Pietropagalo Bizzari ha scritto, et cimentato con piu, e divers) levantini Turchi et altri Maomettani." Pietropagolo Bizzari sold the fonts to the venetian branch of the Giunti press.

(52) For a list of the edicts and laws printed by the Marescotti firm, see Bertoli, 223-24.

(53) ASF Reg. Dir. 15, f. 644 "ne avendo avuto figlioli mast), et haver poco il modo da poser continuare questa stamperia sua."

(54) ASF Reg. Dir. 15, f. 642. Margherita Marescotti was not the only printer in Florence to request this privilege. Modesto Giunti and Antonio di Stefano Guiducci and his son Alessandro also petitioned for the privilege of printing official edicts and laws. In his summary of these three petitions, Niccolo dell' Antella offers an informative account of both the history of this privilege and of printing in Florence in the latter half of the sixteenth century.

(55) Margherita Pugliani's problems were further exacerbated by a falling out with one of her workmen, Zanobi di Francesco Pignoni. By 1613 Margherita and Gistofano's daughter caterina and her husband Domenico Magliani were running the Marescotti firm. It is not clear whether Zanobi was already working for the Marescotti during Magliani's management of the press. After Domenico's disappearance, Margherita formed a partnership with Zanobi. However, by the middle of 1614 Margherita had left the Marescotti shop and established another press across the street. She continued to print edicts until 1617. After this date Zanobi took over much of the printing of official material in Florence; he also adopted the Marescotti device and motto "vult et potest." Margherita Marescotti's allusions to her family's economic problems are by no means singular. Both Lorenzo Torrentino and Giorgio Marescotti made similar allusions in their requests for privileges. In one undated letter, for example, Torrentino laments: "Ma come si sia, fra il temperal duro, che quali per tutto il tempo del mio servitu habbiamo mangiato, pane doloris, cargo di famiglia iovanile, ancora non atto da guadagnare, le faccende stateci impedite mediante la guerra vicina, e nel haver patito danno non piccolo, nel passare l'esercito di Pier Strozza a Pestia." See ASF Misc. Med. 314, ins. 3, no. 2. Carter, 32, believes Torrentino's letter was written in 1560. Similarly, Giorgio Marescotti, in one of his petitions, alludes to his need to maintain his "sconia famiglia." See ASF Aud. Rif. 16, f. 40. On the Marescotti press, see Delfiol; and Carter. See Delfiol, 183-204, for a list of the works printed by Giorgio Marescotti, Cristofano Marescotti, and Margherita Marescotti. See Bertoli, 223-24, for a list of the official edicts printed by the Marescotti press; Delfiol overlooked many of the pamphlets listed in this work.

(56) Chrisman, 21.

(a) The following abbreviations are used to identify fondi in the Archivio di Stato Florence Aud. Rif., Auditore delle Riformagioni, Mag. Pup., Magistrato de' Pupilli MdP., Mediceo del Principato; Med. Spez., Arte dei Medici e Speziali; Misc. Med. Miscellanea Medicea; Reg. Dir., Regio Diretto. I have, in the interest of readability modernized slightly the spelling, introduced accent marks, separated words, and expanded the majority of the abbreviations.
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Author:Parker, Deborah
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Date:Sep 22, 1996
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