How to use our Map

If you open the link to the map you will see the city of Amsterdam with an overlay of an early 18th century map. And you see a lot of markers in different colours. At the moment there are only two sorts but the number of colours will grow with the number of activities that are represented on the Map. Each marker represents a printer or a publisher. If you click on one a pop-up will give you the basic information on the person it represents: his name, address, years of activity and links to other websites like Wikipedia. You can zoom out to Europe - or even the world - but also zoom in until you are looking at a neighbourhood or even a street. On top of the screen you will notice a gray scale with red squares that shows how printing developed in time in different places - its form and the numbers shown depend on the years selected and the area you see on the screen.

How we created our Map of Amsterdam

Everything changes but there are things that tenaciously keep their old appearance. This old wisdom goes especially for cities where streets are renamed or disappear and even neighbourhoods may be destroyed by disasters or the whim of a civil servant.

We decided to recreate old Amsterdam in digital form, as a pilot to find out how this can be done. It is possible to superimpose one old map on the other and even to let the city grow in time, street by street. We decided against this. There are not many maps that fit exactly on a modern map. This becomes a problem when one wants to show who lived where. People who lived on a canal may suddenly show up in another street or a garden.

So we took one map, the best for our purpose, and started to define the streets. Superimposing a map on Google Earth is easy and then it becomes possible to use the Googlemaps API. If you look up a street a pin will be placed in the middle of it. Admirable as this system is, it is not usable for what we wanted to create: a program that places a person or a company automatically in the right place if you know the address. Before 1800 businesses had no exact address. Houses were not numbered and you lived on a street, under a sign or near a spot that everybody knew: a famous inn, a brewery, a theater or a bridge.

We have defined every street and lane, noting the beginning and the end. We have also tracked down all old names for these streets and lanes and we are still in the process of noting every landmark and sign that we can find. Thus a fine-grained structure has come into being that makes it possible to automatically place markers on the Map with great precision.

We hope that we can thus create a methodology that can be used elsewhere - for Paris for instance, or London, or any other town, anywhere.

A Brief Description of the content

Amsterdam - This Map started out with the Amsterdam printers and booksellers 1580-1720. Not all are represented here: about 500 publishers did not put their address on their publications, although more than 1200 did. Does this distort the information? Not really ...

Self-publishing was quite common in the 17th century and almost all publishers that cannot be found on the map are people who published just one book - most of them pamphlets. Their impact on the Amsterdam world of the book is of little importance - apart from the simple fact that they existed at all and could publish and sell what they wanted. All printers are on the Map. In 2014 we hope to publish all their typographical material: initials, ornaments and typefaces on the net. Accessible by their geographical location using a map; in time by using the sliding selectors and also by iconographical descriptors.

The 15th century - All printers and publishers mentioned by Haebler have been added to the Map. We are completing this list, using the ISTC and the website of the Gesamtkatalog. We have specimina of about 500 15th century printers and will show examples of their lay-out and type.

The 16th century - Currently we are working on France and Germany. Other countries will follow. We have started to build an extensive database of typographical material of the most important 16th century printers. This project will be finished in 2016 and accompanied by a publication in book form.

What are Cultural Industries

Cultural Industries are the industries that make money, using the creative drive that is innate in everyone. With culture we mean art but also objects that are the vessels of art although they are not art themselves - like a book or an orchestra.

Recent research has shown that cultural industries are the driving force of innovation and prosperity. They represent a positive force as it has to do with creativity - even when we consider that to create is also to destroy.

Cultural industries are made by and consist of individuals, who gather in intricate networks. These networks are born, undergo changes in time and place - and then they make place for new networks. We think that the best way to understand how these networks worked and to find out how and why they were created is to visualize them, using a map.

A Map for the Cultural Industries

Until the seventies of the last century maps were static entities that could take many forms but where mainly found in atlases or as sheets of paper. The computer changed all that.

Todays maps are dynamic - although they can only live in a secured environment under very specific conditions, in a computer and on the net. A digital map can be adapted to the type of information it shows, while the user moves in time and space looking for information.

Heterogeneous information can take different forms, depending on the content but also on the user. A map exhibits knowledge, facts, but it can also serve as a gateway to information elsewhere. This combination turns the map into an instrument for scholars, that not only visualizes information or gives quick access to information elsewhere, it also serves as a source to generate new ideas and new questions. It is in short a Serendipity Machine.

Getting information on the Map

This map is meant to be used by scholars. Not only as a machine to generate new ideas but also to share research. We use the simplest methods for this: forms and spreadsheets created by Google. With sophisticated scripts information that has been entered will show almost in realtime on the Map.

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In 2014 we hope to ...

  • Add information on book decoration from the middle ages to the 18th century.
  • Complete our survey of Dutch printers and publishers.
  • Add information on bookshops and printing houses in the former colonies.
  • Add information on American early modern publishing, French 16th century printers and publishers
  • Complete our survey of the printers of incunabula.
  • To have created an overview of medieval book decoration.

Although our main focus is on books, we will start to add information on other creatives - painters, architects and architecture and so on.

Who are we?

Two foundations form the base of this website. It was created by Etienne Posthumus from Arkyves and Paul Dijstelberge form A D & L. Etienne build the digital infrastructure while Paul is responsible for the content.

Arkyves is a collection of sources for the study of the History of Culture. It is an aggregated database, but it does much more than passively wait for your research questions. It actively stimulates knowledge discovery because it presents the items in its catalogue in ever-changing thematic combinations.

The A D & L foundation was created in 1993 by Paul Dijstelberge, Peter van der Lee and Wouter Abrahamse. It is active in the field the humanities where we support independent scholars to publish their work. We have published books and digital facsimiles of rare 17th century Dutch literature.