Christopher Plantin and his heirs acted as a major conduit in the distribution of printed music in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even though they printed only a small amount of music in their premises in Antwerp. As leading international publishers of learned books during the early modern period, the Officina Plantiniana was extremely influential in the international book market, with connections through the Frankfurt book fair to German-speaking lands; across the North Sea to England; and via political links to the Spanish empire. The unique survival of archival documentation housed at the Plantin-Moretus Museum provides unparalleled insights into how printed books (including music) were disseminated and sold.
Based on analysis of Plantin’s sales journals from 1578 to 1600, this chapter analyses the geographical spread of clients with whom Plantin traded music, and which musical genres sold in the greatest numbers. It also examines specific accounts from Plantin’s business at the Frankfurt book fair to identify which music publishers were represented by the Officina Plantiniana in Frankfurt. The prices charged for each edition give insights into the commercial relationships between Plantin and his customers, as well as between Plantin and his peers, and the wholesale and retail prices shed light on the relative value of different musical genres and the likely profit margins.