Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets
- Anonymous Printing House
- Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets
- Successors of Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets
Ivan Fedorov's printing shop in Moscow was very short-lived: in 1563-1564, the pioneer printers were engaged in publishing the Apostle, in 1565, they released two editions of the Book of Hours. Then Fedorov and Mstislavets left Moscow to apply their skills in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: in Zabłudów, Lvov, Vilna and Ostrog. Meanwhile, the Moscow period of their activity gave a powerful spur to the development of book publishing in Russia: it became a separate and self-sufficient. Printers began to disposed of the manuscript style. Handwritten books lost their former status and unquestioned authority and had only an advisory role in resolving disputable questions, mainly related to text.
The first book to be printed by Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets was an Apostle, and they had every reason to choose that very book. Prior to this, some liturgical works, including the Psalter, Lenten and Festal Trioditions had already been issued in Moscow. The Acts and Epistles of the Apostles, however, continued to spread without the help of the printing press, although, readings of fragments from this text, along with the Gospel, occupied a large place in the church service. So it is quite natural that the pioneer printers decided to publish exactly the Apostle.
While preparing the book for publication, Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets faced a number of essencial tasks. The ways they found to cope with these problems determined the further development of printing in Moscow.
They began with designing a typeface for the publication. The medium size font which could only be used for printing the Apostle, had been applied twice in Moscow before. These two sets of carved letters differed markedly: one type of the anonymous Triodion for the Lent was smaller in size, the other type of the anonymous Festal Triodion for the Easter period was larger. The printers opted for a smaller font, but they significantly simplified it, reducing the variety in lettering.
In addition, Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets had to dealt with the questions of rubrication of the text. Inspired by Russian manuscripts, they applied similar techniques and tools to mark sections of text. The printers successively added large headpieces, interwoven ornaments and engraved initial letters to show the beginning of epistles of the apostles; narrower headpieces and lombards (simple initials printed in red) were used to emphasize prefaces to them.
The printers apparently had great difficulty with preparing text for printing. There are serious grounds to say that the Apostle was the first book to be printed in Moscow, the text of which was specially arranged for printing, although, how it was done, we can only guess. Unusual was the fact that the book had a colophon. This turned it from one of the editions of the Apostle into the very specific book. It is noteworthy that the imprint given in the Apostle, its location in the book, its form and even some of contents became traditional for Moscow publishers.
In September and October 1565, Ivan Fedorov and Petr Timofeev Mstislavets issued the Books of Hours which were the first printed books of a smaller size in Moscow. Previously to that, books used to be published in the large format editions or folios, made by printing two pages of text on each side of a sheet of paper which was then folded once to form two leaves. The Books of Hours were twice smaller, the fourth size of the original sheet. The study of the publications shows that the first printers did not understand properly how to produce books in the smaller size; they printed Book of Hours as the large format editions: two pages on a sheet which they had to cut into strips of paper.
The decoration of the Book of Hours was far less rich than that of the Apostle, but its style was equally clear and consistent: each section of the book usually started with a headpiece and an interwoven ornament, the beginnings of psalms and prayers were marked by lombards - initials with a simple design, printed in red cinnabar. Like the Apostle, Books of Hours included an imprint, though less extensive.
Ivan Fedorov and Petr Timofeev Mstislavets did not work long as printers in Moscow, but their activities had a decisive influence on the further development of the printing industry there, as can be judged from the publications printed by their successors.