Tornasius, John

, the first of a family of eminent printers and booksellers, called in French Detournes, was born at Lyons in 1504, and learned printing first in the house of Sebastian Gryphius. He appears to have established another house about 1540, and printed many books in the name and on account of Gryphius; but from 1544 we find his own name to a number of very correct editions. Among others may be mentioned, an edition of “Petrarch,” in Italian, 1545, 16mo, with a letter from him to Maurice Sceva, of Lyons, in which he gives a curious account of the discovery of Laura’s tomb, in 1533, in the chapel of the Cordeliers’ church at Avignon a “Dante,1547, 16mo “Les Marguerites des Marguerites de la reine de Navarre,1547, 8vo; “Vitruviu$,” with Philander' s commentary and woodcuts finely executed, 1552, 8vo and “Froissart’s Chronicles,1559—61, 4 vols. fol. Most of his | editions have Latin prefaces or dedications from his pen. His talents procured him the honour of being appointed king’s printer at Lyons, where he died of the plague in 1564. His device was two vipers forming a circle, the female devouring the head of the male, while she herself is devoured by her young, with the inscription “Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne faceris.” This device is still to be seen on the front of a house at Lyons, in the rue Raisin, where his printing-office stood. He was succeeded by his son, John, who was also king’s printer, and carried on the business until 1585. His editions did not yield in elegance or correctness to those of his father, but being obliged at the date above-mentioned to quit his country, upon account of his religion, for he was a protestant, he settled at Geneva, where he had every encouragement, and in 1604 became a member of the council of two hundred. Like the Geneva printers, however, he deteriorated what he printed here by employing bad paper. He died in 1615. His descendants continued the printing and bookselling business at Geneva, and had established a very extensive trade, when in 1726, John James, and James Detournes purchased the stock of Anisson and Posnel, famous booksellers of Lyons, and obtained permission, notwithstanding their religion, to settle there; and as they also continued their house at Geneva, they greatly extended their trade, particularly to Spain and Italy. In 1740 the learned John Christian Wolff dedicated to them his “Monumenta Typographica,” as to the oldest printing and bookselling family in Europe. Their trade, which consisted chiefly in theological works, having begun to fall off when the Jesuits were suppressed, their sons, who had a plentiful fortune, sold off the whole of their stock in 1730, and retired from a business which had been carried on in their family with great reputation for nearly two hundred and forty years. 1


Biog. Univ. in art, Detournes.