Isaac Elsevier

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Isaac Elsevier , more correctly: El z evier (* 1596 ; † 1651 ) was a Dutch publisher and printer and a lesser-known member of the Elsevier family of publishers and booksellers . He was the first family member to set up his own print shop and dedicate himself to typography . He also introduced the company logo Nonsolus-Imprint .

Family and background

The founder of the Elsevier family of publishers and booksellers, Louis Elsevier , left behind seven sons on his death on February 4, 1617, all of whom followed in their father's professional footsteps and worked as bookbinders , booksellers or publishers in the family business. The firstborn, Matthys Elsevier, in turn, had three sons when he died on December 6, 1640: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They also learned the bookbinding trade and all joined the family business.

life and work

Isaac, the middle son, was the first in the family to also learn the printing trade and dedicate himself to typography in order to improve the legibility of the printed works with the stylistic devices of fonts, font sizes and types of markings. He was also the one who designed and introduced the company logo, which is still used today: an elm tree with a grapevine hanging around its trunk. The grapes are harvested by a scholar who is contrasted with the reference non solus (“not alone”). The picture elements are now interpreted as symbols: the elm, the tree of life, stands for experience , the grape for knowledge , the scholar is wisdom personified . Experience, knowledge and wisdom along with the motto not alone are the cornerstones of Elsevier's self-image as a publisher to this day.

In 1616 Isaac bought a printing company in Leiden , where he printed the books of his family members and their contemporaries. In 1620 his company was appointed to the Leiden university printing works, in 1625 he acquired the printing works from Thomas Erpenius , who had specialized in the printing of oriental works - including Syriac, Arabic, Chaldean and Hebrew scripts. In the same year, Isaac Elzevier sold his entire business to his grandfather's successor for 9,000 guilders. His printing house formed the basis of the printing activities of the following generations of the Elsevier family. Isaac left Leiden for unknown reasons and ran a tavern in Rotterdam.


  1. ^ Friedrich Kapp: History of the German book trade up to the seventeenth century [1] .


  • Friedrich Kapp: History of the German book trade up to the seventeenth century . 1884. Available online from Wikisource

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