The Jesuit College press was the second typography founded by an Archbishop of Esztergom. The first, the Archiepiscopal press, was established by Ferenc Forgách (1609), however, by 1621 the Hungarian Catholic church was without a press, again.
Archbishop Péter Pázmány realizing the loss of the press and aware of its importance in the success of recatholization, founded a new press in Pozsony, in 1623. When this press began to work, five years had passed in Pozsony without a catholic press and two years in Nagyszombat.
Contemporary sources refer to the press donated by Pázmány az "archiepiscopal", although from the very beginning it was under the care and supervision of the Jesuits. The Jesuit college in Pozsony was similarly founded by Pázmány and by 1628 their new building was also ready housing the printing shop as well.
This press was working continuously for almost three decades, between 1623–1652. It was directed by the Jesuits from the Pozsony College (with the title "praefectus typogaphiae") who employed secular, learned printer sas factors. It was the Jesuit Jakab Némethi who was the most active in organizing, maintaining and technically directing the printing shop. The names of some of the secular printers are also known from their printings and from other sources: György Zavari, György Beretzki and Zacharias Dominik Aksamítek. It should be noted that the latter was a printer of Czech origin later in charge of the famous Press of Propaganda Fide in Rome.
It was this catholic press in Pozsony where some of the finest books of the period were issued. In the very first year the second edition of Kalauz by Péter Pázmány was printed with a copper-plate title page (1623) in folio format (the artist was Tobias Bidenharter). The books pritned here were characteristically fine, richly illustrated and carefully printed. The press was well supplied not only with type-faces and ornaments but also with wood-cut illustrations.
Some of these constitute whole series, like the emblems of the the Pozsony edition of Szíves könyvecske [Bok of hearts] by Mátyás Hajnal. In 1624 another richly illustrated book appeared, the Képes katekizmus [Picture Catechism] with 103 wood-cut illustrations. Here, however, the wooden blocks of the illustrations were not their own: the series was lent to the Jesuit College Press in Pozsony, as it was a general practice to exchange copper plates or wooden blocks among Jesuit Collecge presses over Europe.
Some years after the foundation, in 1631, it was necessary to clear the property-relations of the press. According to the other Jesuit College, the one in Nagyszombat, Pázmány's intention was to donate the press to Hungarian Jesuits in general, and not specially to the Pozsony College. From the time the Nagyszombat College was raised to the rank of Academy (University) they made effort to gain the press. On the other hand, the Jesuit College of Pozsony insisted to keep it in Pozsony as long as possible.
Wood-cut ornaments with Maria and IHS-monograms
After a delay of about 15 years, from 1645 on, the equipment of the Pozsony Jesuit press was gradually transported to Nagyszombat. Finally, by 1662 the entire press went over to the Nagyszombat Jesuits although not the ownership, which remained with the Pozsony Jesuits even after the rooms of the former typography were occupied by the newly-established pharmacy of the Jesuit order.
Mostly, although not entirely with the equipment of Pozsony origins the printing shop in Nagyszombat began to work in 1648, and soon the Academy (University) press became the most well equipped and most productive workshop of Hungary. Some of the ornaments once in Pozsony were still in use in Nagyszombat several decades later, as one of the head-pieces with the IHS monogram and kneeling angels (Nagyszombat 1683).
Head-piece from the Pozsony press - it was in use in Nagyszombat even half a century later, in 1683
During the 29 years of activity of the Jesuit College press in Pozsony (1623-1652) it has issued 87 works, amounting to 1940 sheets of paper: this rate being exceedingly high among contemporary Hungarian printing shops. Among the books produced first the works by Pázmány were dominating, some of the published anonymously, mostly pieces of militant counterreformation. This press was the earliest workshop of Hungarian baroque art and literature.
In the later course of the 17th century there was no new catholic press founded in Pozsony: this role was completely taken over by Nagyszombat.
TYPE FACES AND PRINTERS' FLOWERS
<<back to the top<<
Régi magyarországi nyomtatványok 2, 1601-1635. Szerk.: Borsa Gedeon és Hervay Ferenc. Budapest 1983.
HOLL Béla: Forrásszövegek a pozsonyi nyomdászat történetéhez a 17. század első feléből. In: Magyar Könyvszemle 1973. 377-385.
V. ECSEDY Judit: A pozsonyi jezsuita kollégiumi nyomda (1623-1652). In: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár Évkönyve 1994/1998. 371-403.
V. ECSEDY Judit: A régi magyarországi nyomdák betűi és díszei XVII. sz. . 1. köt.: Nyugat- és észak-magyarországi nyomdák. Budapest 2010.