By Vanderkerckhove & Devos and The Plantin-Moretus Museum; Text edited by Francine de Nave
Though it can’t possibly compare with actually seeing and touching the treasures of sixteenth century printing, this CD is an excellent introduction to the legacy of Christopher Plantin [1520-1589]. Ably assisted by his son-in-law Jan Moretus I [1543-1610] and by friends and family members, Plantin established in Antwerp, Belgium, the “Golden Compass,” the world’s first industrial scale printing and publishing operation. During his 34 year career, Plantin oversaw the production of more than 2,400 publications, specializing in works on religion, science, humanism, and linguistics. Today, the Plantin-Moretus Museum’s library is home to 25,000 titles, including 154 incunabula.

Like most current edutainment software titles, The Plantin-Moretus Museum CD is replete with the usual bells and whistles. After a short install (you’ll need Apple’s Quicktime VR on your computer; it’s provided on the CD), the show begins smoothly. A lively instrumental musical score accompanies most of the presentations. A feature called “The Interactive Print Room” allows the user to compose a line of type, ink it, and print it (literally too, if you have a printer). Other stops on the virtual tour of the former Officina Plantiniana include: “From The Printing Works,” a series of compressed videos chronicling the processes of casting hot metal type, composing type, printing, and proofing; a 360-degree view of the courtyard; a selection of legendary titles (e.g., Biblia Polyglotta) available to browse in the bookshop; and “The Family Drawing Room,” which features an interactive timeline with brief biographies of those associated with The Golden Compass. There’s much more to the CD than I can cover here (there are even amusing Easter eggs* to be found). The software is easy to navigate, is informative, and is, most of all, fun, for anyone interested in the history of typography, printing, and bookmaking.

Keep in mind that, as with most software, performance varies depending on computer speed and resources. For this review, I tested the Windows version on Windows 95, 98, and NT4 without experiencing any problems.

—Delve Withrington

Cover, The Plantin-Moretus Museum © The Plantin-Moretus Museum
Click Here to buy this book Online!

Related Links
Plantin-Moretus Museum Website

Kathleen Tinkel’s review of this book at U&lc

The Virtual Printing Museum of Portugal

*Software developers often hide such things as credits or tricks in their software—these are known as ‘Easter eggs’.

Delve Withrington is the founder of Delve Media Arts and the Publisher of TypeBooks.

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Plantin-Moretus Museum, The on CD-ROM
Editor: Francine de Nave
Publisher: Vanderkerckhove & Devos Multimedia/Plantin-Moretus Museum [1997]
ISBN: nr:90-76083-02-9
Binding: Box set includes: 1 CD-ROM (Mac or PC) & Brochure

© Copyright 1997–2002 TypeBooks