Christoffel van Dijck

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Christoffel van Dijck (c. 1600-5, Dexheim - November 1669, Amsterdam) was a German-born Dutch engraver and punchcutter, who engraved, cast and sold metal type. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_0

Although his career is poorly documented, he is believed to have been influential in the history of printing and typefounding in the Netherlands. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_1

Life Christoffel van Dijck_section_0

Van Dijck was born in Dexheim, now in Germany, to a Dutch Protestant family. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_2

They came from Breberen (in the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg), and settled near Frankfurt. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_3

His father Gilbert Breberenus van den Dijck was a Calvinist minister, like his grandfather, uncle and his brother. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_4

Christoffel was trained as a goldsmith, perhaps in Frankenthal, where Walloon and Flemish refugees (Calvinists) set up small manufacturies. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_5

By 1640 he moved to Amsterdam as a journeyman. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_6

Van Dijck changed career to become an engraver of steel punches, the masters used to stamp moulds, or matrices, used to cast metal type. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_7

How he began this career change is not documented; Lane speculates that he may have begun engraving types for other typefounders. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_8

On 11 October 1642 he applied to marry Swaentje Harmens from Nordhorn, the widow of a former minister, giving his age as 36. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_9

He lived at Jodenbreestraat but in 1645 he moved to an area for labourers and crafsmen called the Jordaan. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_10

On 1 May 1647 he rented a house on the Bloemgracht in which he set up a type foundry. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_11

This was a more prestigious address (although the house was in poor condition) and close to the printing office of Joan Blaeu, who became a client. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_12

In 1664, a year of plague, he bought two houses in Elandsstraat, a former inn, barn and garden and borrowed money from two ministers. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_13

He died in November 1669 and was buried in the nearby Westerkerk. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_14

Career and legacy Christoffel van Dijck_section_1

Van Dijck became the most prominent type-founder of his time in the Netherlands, cutting type in roman, italic, blackletter, Armenian, music type and probably printers' flowers. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_15

In or shortly before 1655 he drew out lettering for rooms in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, then the city hall. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_16

Van Dijck worked extensively for Armenian printers in Amsterdam. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_17

On 27 November 1658 he contracted with the Armenian (Matheos van Tsar in Dutch) to make punches and matrices to print an Armenian bible, and continued to work on Armenian types for the rest of his life. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_18

On his death, his foundry was taken over by his son Abraham (1645-1672), who was also a punchcutter. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_19

Abraham van Dijck sold matrices to Thomas Marshall on behalf of Bishop John Fell in Oxford for Oxford University Press, many of which survive, as does Marshall's correspondence. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_20

Marshall wrote to Fell in April 1670 that "this last winter had sent van Dijck and [Bartholomeus] Voskens, the two best artists in this country, to their graves." Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_21

Abraham van Dijck suffered from poor health, documented in his and Marshall's correspondence, and died prematurely in February 1672. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_22

The following April the foundry was auctioned, and bought by Daniel Elzevir. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_23

In 1681 it was bought by Joseph Athias, the printer of books in Hebrew and who cooperated with the widow of Jan Jacobsz. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_24 Schipper printing English bibles. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_25

In 1702 his son Manuel Athias sold his part in the foundry to the heir Cornelia Schipper. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_26

In 1755 the family closed the business at Nieuwe Herengracht; the foundry was bought by Jan Roman the younger (1709-1770), bookseller in the Kalverstraat. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_27

In 1767 the foundry was auctioned again, and materials bought by both the Enschedé foundry in Haarlem and the Ploos van Amstel brothers in Amsterdam, the latter bought by Enschedé in 1799. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_28

Work Christoffel van Dijck_section_2

From a surviving 1681 specimen, historian Paul Shaw explains that van Dijck's aesthetic style is "closer in color and spirit to 16th-century French types such as those by Garamont than to those of his contemporaries, which tend to be darker, narrower, and have a taller x-height (a combination often described by type historians as le goût Hollandois)." Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_29

His blackletter types are ornate, with many teardrop terminals, especially on the capitals, apparently following the lead of types cut by Nicolaes Briot. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_30

Understanding of van Dijck's career has been limited by a lack of knowledge of what types he cut: as was common for pre-nineteenth century printing materials a large proportion of his punches and matrices were lost due to changing artistic tastes in favour of "modern face" typefaces, being destroyed from around 1808 by Enschedé at a time when it was also in financial difficulties, although some survive at Enschedé, and others in the collection of Oxford University Press. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_31

An impressive but jumbled specimen was issued by the widow of Daniel Elzevir in 1681 offering what had been his foundry for sale, of which a single copy survives in the Plantin-Moretus Museum of Antwerp. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_32

Fragments of an earlier specimen are also extant at Cambridge University Library. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_33

A specimen issued by van Dijck in 1668/1669 was found to exist in the National Archives in London by historian Justin Howes; according to John A. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_34 Lane as of 2013 it had yet to be published. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_35

Besides van Dijck's own types, his foundry apparently owned some older types: by the year after his death Abraham van Dijck owned matrices for a Greek type cut by Robert Granjon in Garmond size. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_36

Marshall bought matrices for this type which survive at Oxford University Press, probably from Abraham van Dijck, or possibly another source in the Netherlands; if they did come from van Dijck his foundry was apparently able to replace them with another set of matrices, since the type is advertised on the 1681 specimen. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_37

On the 1681 specimen a number of other types are also by Granjon, with one titling and one roman by Claude Garamond and another titling by Hendrik van den Keere. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_38

According to Marshall Amsterdam typefounders were able to buy earlier types from Frankfurt. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_39

Several digital fonts based on van Dijck's work have been published, including DTL Elzevir (1992) by Dutch Type Library. Christoffel van Dijck_sentence_40


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoffel van Dijck.