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Laurens Janszoon Koster (Coster), Printer

 
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Laurens Janszoon Coster or Laurens Jansz Koster, was one of the early European printers. He was an important citizen of Haarlem and held the position of sexton (Koster) of Sint-Bavokerk. He is mentioned in contemporary documents as an assessor (scabinus), and as the city treasurer. He probably perished in the plague that visited Haarlem in 1439-1440; his widow is mentioned in the latter year.

There are no works certainly printed by Laurens, however there is a tradition that, sometime in the 1420s, he was carving letters from bark for the amusement of his grandchildren, and observed that the letters left impressions on the sand. He is said to have printed several books including Speculum Humanae Salvationis with several assistants including Johann Fust, and it was Fust who, when Laurens was nearing death, stole his presses and type and took them to Mainz where he entered partnership with Johann Gutenberg.

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