Paper-makers, punch-cutters and type founders in Paris

The first links in the book publishing chain were the paper-makers and type founders who supplied the raw materials. The lion's share of a printing shop's budget went for paper. Because their needs were so specific, printers often commissioned the creation of the paper required for an edition.

Most paper-makers were located outside of Paris, although there were a few workshops along the banks of the Bièvre. Most printers placed their orders further afield, mostly at Troyes, but also at Coulommiers, Corbeil and Étampes. A few booksellers operated as wholesalers – Guillaume Godard supplied a number of his colleagues, including Oudin Petit, Ambroise Giraud, Yolande Bonhomme, Jean Loys and Charlotte Guillard.

Type founders were dependent on printers, and they were generally poor, living from hand to mouth.

In addition to paper, printers routinely needed new characters. There were very few punch-cutters, such as Garamont, who worked exclusively on lead type. Some of them were also type founders or printers, but most had other metal-related activities. Thus, Philippe Danfrie also worked as a royal gun-founder, a punch-cutter of mathematical instruments, a maker of book binding stamps and a minter of coins.

Type founders were more numerous. Some had their own collections of punches, but they also worked with material loaned by printers, who also supplied raw materials by recycling worn-out lead type. Type founders were dependent on printers; they were generally poor and lived from hand to mouth.

They were sometimes housed by booksellers, such as Jean de La Roche, who hired Pierre Le Fèvre in 1544 to "maintain the letters required for his two presses as often as requested." To achieve a more stable footing, type founders often became printers themselves, like Jacques Marc: after his death in 1564, two printing presses were found among his effects. In the second half of the 16th century, small type founders tended to disappear in Paris; their livelihood was threatened by a small number of powerful firms that supplied printing workshops throughout Europe. This was the case with Christophe Plantin's foundry in Antwerp, and with that of Guillaume Le Bé in Paris.

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