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Printer's device of Johann Froben, by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1523

Johann Froben, in Latin: Johannes Frobenius (and combinations), (Hammelburg, Franconia, circa 1460 — Basel, 27 October 1527) was a famous printer and publisher in Basel.



After completing his university career at Basel, where he made the acquaintance of the famous printer Johann Amerbach (circa 1440 — 1513), Froben established a printing house in that city about 1491, and this soon attained a European reputation for accuracy and taste. In 1500 he married the daughter of the bookseller Wolfgang Lachner, who entered into a partnership with him.

He was friends with Erasmus, who lived in his house when in Basel, and not only had his own works printed by him from 1514, but superintended Froben's editions of Jerome, Cyprian, Tertullian, Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose. His printing of Erasmus' Novum Testamentum (1519) was used by Martin Luther for his translation.

Portrait of Johann Froben after Hans Holbein the Younger, 1520–26. Froben commissioned many book illustrations from Holbein.

Froben employed Hans Holbein the Younger to illustrate his texts, as well as the formschneiders Jakob Faber (the "Master IF") and Hans Lützelburger. Holbein painted a portrait of him, c. 1522-23, probably as a pair with one of Erasmus; the original has not survived but a number of copies have.

It was part of Froben's plan to print editions of the Greek Fathers. He did not, however, live to carry out this project, but it was very creditably executed by his son Hieronymus Froben and his son-in-law Nikolaus Episcopius. Froben died in October 1527 in Basel.


Froben's work in Basel made that city in the 16th century the leading center of the Swiss book trade. An existing letter of Erasmus, written in the year of Froben's death, gives an idea of his life and an estimate of his character; and in it Erasmus mentions that his grief for the death of his friend was far more distressing than that which he had felt for the loss of his own brother, adding that all the apostles of science ought to wear mourning. The epistle concludes with an epitaph in Greek and Latin.


See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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