In Kassa (Košice, SK) in this significant Upper-Hungarian town printing can be considered continuous since 1610, i.e. the founding of the Fischer-press (there was already a short time when Kassa was a printing place in 1560 when the protestant Gál Huszár was temporarily printing here).
Johann Fischer was the son-in-law of Jakob Klöss the printing shop-owner in Bártfa. The city council of Kassa supported the settling of Fischer, who, in return, dedicated his first product, the Hungarian calendar for 1611 to them. This was the first calendar published in Kassa. Although Fischer's workshop was a private enterprise, he continued to enjoy the support of the town, they commissioned the printer with different works. Fischer could lead his press only for four years, as he died in 1614and his widow married – according to contemporary custom – Johann Fest, the eldest printer, factor of the workshop, thus ensuring continuous work. Johann Fest was, similarly to his predecessor Fischher, a book-binder, too. Fest carried on the issuing of Hungarian calendars, he was working not only for the city of Kassa, but also for the Scepusian Chamber and the Transylvanian Prince Gábor Bethlen. The printing shop of Fest was active between 1615–1622, when he, together with his whole family, died of plague.
Kassa was one of those few Hungarain towns where, at least for a short time, there were two printing shops working parallelly. It was in 1621–1622 that the press of the Transylvanian Printe Gábor Bethlen with its printer Nicolaus Müller (Mollerus) was also staying in Kassa and was leading an independent workshop with and equipment different from that of Fest and his predecessor Fischer. The press of prince Gábor Bethlen (originally the Archiepiscopal press of Pozsony, confiscated by Bethlen) moved in 1623 to his princely seat Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia), in Transylvania.
The press set up by Fischer and continued by Fest was among the smaller ones. Its production was altogether 56 works in the years 1610–1622, amounting to 321 sheets of paper. More voluminous books were issued in the time of the printer Fest. The majority of their books were the regularly published calendars and occasional pritnings. Among the authors the humanist Joannes Bocatius should be mentioned while among the patrons financing the eeditions Zsigmond Báthory, the Forgách-family and Prince Maximilian should be noted. It was here that the first itinerary in Hungarian language was printed, the Europica varietas by Márton Szepsi Csombor (1620).
Reconstructing the equipment of the Fischer-Fest printing shop the books issued by them display 15 sorts of type–faces, four series of decorated initials, 23 diffferent printer's flowers, ten tail- and head-pieces and 4 illustrations. Its basic equipment, namely the printing types, originate from Fischer's father-in-law, Jakob Klöss printer in Bártfa. Apart from these, there were also ornaments once in the possession of David Gutgesell the other printer in Bártfa who had died at the end of the previous century.
Arabesque tail-piece int he Fischer-Fest press originating from the Gutgesell –press of Bártfa
Hungary's coat-of arms with lion, from the Fest-press (1619) used later by several generations of the Brewer-family in Lőcse
After the death of Fest the whole equipment disappeared for some time, due to the desinficiation process following plague. Later however, certain ornaments re-appeared in Kassa where Daniel Schultz used some of them, but the majority including type faces were purchased by Lorenz Brewer when establishing his new printing shop in Lőcse.
Due to the newly arriving printer Daniel Schultz, printing was continuous in Kassa even after the death of Johann Fest.
HEAD- AND TAIL-PIECES
(Johannes Bocatius' coat of arms)
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Régi magyarországi nyomtatványok 2, 1601–1635. Szerk.: Borsa Gedeon és Hervay Ferenc. Budapest 1983.
KEMÉNY Lajos. Kassai könyvnyomtatók életrajzához. = MKsz 1902. 535-536.
FARKAS Ágnes–V. ECSEDY Judit: A kassai nyomda 1610–1622 közötti munkássága = Országos Széchényi Könyvtár Évkönyve 1986-1990. 351-393