Introductory remarks by Paul Gehl
Hendrik D. L. Vervliet is Professor and Library Director Emeritus of the University of Antwerp, and has been a leading researcher on the history of types in the early modern period for over forty years. His body of work is one of the largest and most important contributions by a single scholar to the history of Renaissance typography and the history of the book more generally.
Vervliet’s many studies of early type have led to precise identifications and descriptions of individual fonts and dates for their use by various printers in several European cities, thereby offering for the first time a clear understanding of the relationships between type founders and printers in a period of great design innovation. This kind of work has already changed our notions of originality and imitation in the field of type design, and it will enable future researchers and critics to even better assess the aesthetic history of Renaissance typography. Vervliet’s most recent book on Paris types and printers of the sixteenth century offers an outstanding, up-to-date model of bibliographical analysis, close type comparison, and historical judgment as applied to typography.
Vervliet has also edited numerous source documents and facsimiles relating to printing and type history. These range from annotated portfolios of type specimens to the correspondence of important publishers with the great intellectuals of their day. Most impressive in this latter regard is his edition of the correspondence of Justus Lipsius. Vervliet was the sole editor of the Annual Bibliography of the History of the Printed Book and Libraries from 1974 to 1990, when, upon his retirement, it was determined that this enormous international project could only be continued by a large team of editors. Under Vervliet, this indispensable reference work chronicled the progress of book history during the fertile period that saw the birth of the new history of the book. It remains a standard reference.