2.2.6: 1585 - 1725 - Guilds

With the growth of publishing and bookselling from the end of the sixteenth century, demand grew for new organisations which could promote the interests of local entrepreneurs in this branch. This meant that printers and booksellers had to move away from the existing craft guilds, usually the guild of St Luke. The first Dutch town with its own printers' and booksellers' guild was Middelburg. Due to the influx of people from, particularly, the Southern Netherlands, the numbers employed in the book trade grew at such a rate that an application for a separate guild was made in 1590 to the city council. This was approved and a guild statute, probably based on a model from the Southern Netherlands, was drawn up in which the production of printed matter, the binding of books and the trade in books, paper and stationary was regulated. Requirements relating to professional expertise were also laid down.

In 1599, the printers and booksellers of Utrecht obtained their own guild, followed in 1616 by their colleagues in Haarlem. There were 24 provisions in the Haarlem guild regulations. Typical is the attempt to regulate the local book trade and to protect it against competition from outside the profession and from outside the city. Thus the sons of members were favoured, teachers were no longer allowed to sell schoolbooks and trading by pedlars was curbed.

It is remarkable that booksellers' guilds were only set up fairly late in the larger cities. In Leiden, the guild evolved in 1651 from a board of book auctioneers which had been set up twelve years previously. Pieter de la Court, a local merchant, had already at that time expressed his fears that internal regulation and protection would in time be more harmful than beneficial to the book trade. In Amsterdam the printers' and booksellers' guild was established in 1662 after much discussion with the city council and resistance from the guild of St Luke which did not like to see the prosperous printers and booksellers leave. A guild was only set up in Rotterdam in 1699 and in The Hague in 1702. In other towns, such as Delft, the printers and booksellers stayed within the existing guild of St. Luke.

The provisions of the guild statutes differed from place to place. The obligation to produce a masterpiece did not exist in Leiden or Amsterdam but did elsewhere. The mandatory entrance fee or 'income' could vary greatly. In Rotterdam non-citizens paid 36 guilders (about € 16.-), citizens 18 guilders (about € 8.-) and sons of guild members 9 guilders (about € 4.-), twice as much as in Amsterdam. The annual contribution usually amounted to 1 guilder (about € 0.45). The length of an apprenticeship also varied, from four years in Amsterdam to six years in Leiden. Sons of masters were exempt from this because they received in-house training. Although women were normally not allowed to run their own businesses in those days, the widows of printers and booksellers had the right to continue the trade of their deceased husbands until a successor was found. The guilds in the larger cities, incidentally, allowed much more freedom than those in the smaller towns; in Amsterdam and Rotterdam some entrepreneurs even operated completely outside the guild.

The management of the guilds was in the hands of a board of three or four prominent and experienced members, called 'vinders' or 'hoofdlieden' chaired by a 'deken'. They negotiated with the city council, supervised book auctions, mediated in conflicts and gave advice on the application for privileges. Although the guilds in the seventeenth century no longer had a religious background, they did, however, still have an important social function, illustrated by, for instance, the banquets and the obligation to be present at the funeral of a member of the guild. Those not appearing paid a heavy fine.

author: P.G. Hoftijzer


marbled paper

Definition: decorated paper with a marbling effect produced by placing drops of colour on a liquid surface (the marbling size), using a marbling trough.

brocade paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper: hand-made paper, coloured with a brush on one side on which a (imitation) gold leaf decorative pattern or picture is printed.

laid paper

Definition: hand-made paper or (mostly) imitation hand-made paper with a fine screen of water lines.

glossy coated paper

Definition: highly-glossed paper.

hand-made paper

Definition: hand-made paper, laid or not, made with a mould, usually with watermark and deckle edges.

wood-pulp paper

Definition: paper containing ground wood-pulp with many small impurities, usually easily torn; cheap but not durable.

wood-free paper

Definition: paper that does not contain wood-pulp, but which is made from pure cellulose and/or cotton or linen rags. It has a beautiful colour and is durable.

paper boys

Definition: person who daily delivers a paper in the letterbox of readers with a subscription.

lignin-rich paper

Definition: kind of ligneous paper: lignin is an element of wood. It causes a rapid ageing of paper whose fibrous composition consists partly of lignin.

Lombardy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of Italian origin, common until the end of the 17th century.

rag paper

Definition: kinds of paper that have been made entirely of rags. As soon as rags are only partly used in a kind of paper, then this is rag-content paper.

machine-made paper

Definition: paper made using a paper machine

marbled paper

Definition: kind of paper used inter alia for bindings: paper on which - by a special process - a decorative pattern, which sometimes resembles marble, is created by applying a thin layer of paint of two or more colours, or paper printed with an imitation resemblingit.

bulky paper

Definition: paper which combines great thickness with a relatively light weight (used by publishers to make small books look more voluminous).


Definition: general term for a material produced in the form of reels or sheets, formed by draining a suspension of vegetable fibres (rags, straw, wood, etc.) on a sieve and usually used, after sizing, for writing, drawing or printing; the name 'paper' is used for aweight of up to about 165 g/m2, 'cardboard' or 'board' for a higher weight.

permanent paper

Definition: alkaline paper which satisfies international standards as regards composition and physical properties, so that a durability of at least 150 years is guaranteed.

Troy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of French origin, used until the end of the 17th century.

acid-free paper

Definition: paper with a neutral pH value (about pH 7), mainly used in conservation and restoration.

paper finishers

Definition: workmen in a printing office who hang the damp paper up to dry on a line after it has been printed.

paper conservation

Definition: the restoring, stopping or preventing paper decay caused by acidification and wear and tear.

paper mills

Definition: industrial concern in which paper is produced on a large scale.

paper manufacturers

Definition: 1. owner, employer of a papermill. 2. producer of hand-made paper.

paper formats

Definition: dimensions of a sheet of paper.

paper wholesale businesses

Definition: company that resells large quantities of paper, supplied by producers, to printing offices and other businesses.

paper trade

Definition: economic activity of trading paper, i.e. the buying and selling of paper, as intermediary between production and consumption.

paper traders

Definition: someone whose profession is trading paper.

paper industry

Definition: collective name for all branches of industry concerned with the production of paper.

paper machines

Definition: machine with which paper is formed, pressed, dried and smoothed, from cellulose fibres and other paper ingredients. The result is turned into rolls or cut into sheets.

paper mills

Definition: water mills or windmills where the production of handmade rag paper took place. The drive mechanism of the mill was used to move the beaters loosening the rag fibres.

paper research

Definition: 1. testing paper to judge its appropriateness for a certain use. 2. analysis of paper to determine age or origin.

paper production

Definition: 1. the total of paper produced. 2. paper making.

kinds of paper

Definition: collective name for variants in paper, originating in the use of different raw materials, sizes and production methods.

paper splitting

Definition: in book restoration: the splitting of paper into two layers which are pasted together again after a support layer has been placed in between.

paper treaters

Definition: labourers in a printing office who wet the paper before printing, so that the ink is absorbed better.

decorated paper

Definition: collective name for all sorts of decorated paper whose decoration has come into being either during the manufacturing process or by graphic or other final processing of the sheet of paper.

woodblock paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper printed by means of wooden blocks, which are frequentlyderived from cotton print-works, with a decorative pattern in one or more colours; used especially in the 18th and 19th centuries for covers, endpapers and as pasting materialfor the boards of books.

wove paper

Definition: non-laid hand-made paper, sometimes with a watermark in the bottom edge of the paper