Heinrich Eggestein

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Heinrich Eggestein (* around 1415/20 in Rosheim ( Alsace ); † 1488 or later; also: Eckstein or Eggesteyn ) is considered to be the earliest printer in Strasbourg , along with Johannes Mentelin .


Before he came to Strasbourg at the beginning of the 1440s, Heinrich Eggestein had already acquired the academic degree of Magister artium liberalium at a previously unknown university . Shortly after his arrival, he entered the service of Bishop Ruprecht von Pfalz-Simmern and held the office of seal keeper (also: Insiegler, seal bearer ) at the Strasbourg Propsteigericht , which he lost again in 1455. In 1461 this office was reassigned to him, three years later he lost it for good.

He acquired Strasbourg citizenship in 1442. It is assumed that Eggestein met Johannes Gutenberg , the later inventor of printing with movable metal letters , during his stay in Strasbourg in the 1440s and was able to establish lasting bonds with him.

It is very likely that Eggestein even traveled to Mainz himself in the 1450s to learn the art of printing from Gutenberg. However, the time and duration of this stay cannot be clearly clarified due to incomplete source material. Ferdinand Geldner is of the opinion that Eggestein was already present in Mainz in 1454 and perhaps because of this he lost his Strasbourg insiegler office in 1455. In this case he would have been able to experience the printing of the 42-line Gutenberg Bible up close. Geldner also suspects that Heinrich Eggestein was actively involved in the text design and printing of the Turkish calendar , which was completed around mid-December 1454 . However, he did not give up his Strasbourg citizenship until August 1457. Had he left Alsace so late, of course, he would not have arrived in Mainz until after the break between Gutenberg and Johannes Fust .

Heinrich Eggestein's return to Strasbourg is clearly documented, where he regained citizenship on August 9, 1459. However, it is not known whether and in what way Eggestein was involved in the printing workshop operated by Johannes Mentelin in Strasbourg . However, it is beyond dispute that both men knew each other and were closely related. It is even considered possible that Mentelin and Eggestein, in a contract that had not been received, mutually obliged each other to keep their knowledge of the art of printing secret.

Starting your own printing plant is expected to fall in the period around 1464 when Eggestein, possibly in connection with the establishment of Offizin , for the second time lost his Insiegleramt. On March 31, 1466, the printer received a letter of protection from Elector Friedrich I of the Palatinate . His first major work is a Latin Bible , which must have been written before May 24, 1466.

Although his printing company quickly established itself in the market, Heinrich Eggestein ran into financial difficulties towards the end of the 1470s. He owed the Basel paper dealer Anton Galliciani and was successfully sued by him in 1480 for immediate payment of all outstanding debts. On April 24th, 1483 Eggestein finally gave up his Strasbourg citizenship. The last prints made by him or with his types were single-sheet prints . After 1488 it is no longer mentioned. The time and details of his death remain unknown.


Heinrich Eggestein's activity as a printer can be documented from 1464 to 1488. During these 25 years he published a large number of publications with different contents. After his first work, the above-mentioned Bible from 1466, he printed two further Latin folio editions of the Holy Scriptures. In this context, the Strasbourg printer also made use of modern marketing methods. Eggestein's book ad published around 1468/70, which advertised his third edition of the Bible, is considered to be the oldest of its kind, along with the Mentelins and Schöffers ads.

At the beginning of the 1470s he began to expand his printing and publishing program. In addition to theological writings, Eggestein now increasingly printed legal writings of canonical and civil law , such as B. the Decretum Gratiani (1471) and the Decretales of Gregory IX. and the Constitutiones of Pope Clement V. This made him a direct competitor to Peter Schöffers, who also published legal titles on a larger scale. Heinrich Eggestein also printed ancient classics (e.g. Virgil's Bucolica , Ciceros De officiis or Julius Caesars De bello gallico ), but directed his particular interest to Latin works by medieval authors . So he published u. a. the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine , De miseria conditionis humanae by Pope Innocent III. as well as works by Bonaventura and Bernhard von Clairvaux . German-language titles were rather rare in his program. A significant exception is the second German Bible, based on the Mentelin Bible, which Eggestein published in 1470. Other vernacular titles were Lukians Goldener Esel ( translator : Niklas von Wyle ) and an edition of Belial .


Web links


  1. ^ Geldner: Incunabulum . P. 221
  2. ^ Eggestein Bible by Jörg von Sachsenheim: Sachsenheim Bibles .