European urban civilization as we know does not find its roots in London or Paris, let alone in Berlin, but in three relatively small cities, all ports, all energetic, individualistic, and outward-looking places. These cities, in the chronology of their commercial and creative flourishing, were Venice, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. In each of these cities a strong tradition of printing developed and they all produced outstanding printers, Aldus in Venice, Plantin in Antwerp, and the Blaeu family in Amsterdam. That is no coincidence. Creativity – interpreted in the widest possible sense – and cosmopolitanism go hand in hand.
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