Ludwig Suter, Helias Helye, Heyle Platz, Laufen. Bild/Photo: TES.

Helias Helye en the first printed and dated book

In 1470 Helias Helye (1400-1475) published the first dated printed book on the territory of present-day Switzerland.

In his house in Beromünster, today’s museum (Schloss-Museum), he began his new career as a book printer at the age of seventy. Until then he was canon in Beromünster and priest in Neudorf.

In his younger years, he had studied and lived in Basel, where he became acquainted with the beginnings of the publishing and printing industry, in particular at the time of the Council of Basel (1431-1448).

The first dated printed book comes from his printing house. It is a textbook for the bible, the ‘Mammotrectus super Bibliam‘.

The book counts six hundred pages and is written in Latin. Although it was not commercially successful and his printing house went bankrupt, he printed five other books until his death in 1475.

Helias was born in Zurich and lived in Beromünster. His parents came from the valley of Laufen (Laufental), and he was a citizen of Laufen.

For this reason, a statue of this forgotten printer and pioneer stands in Laufen (today canton Basel-Landschaft, until 1798 Laufen belonged to the diocese and city of Basel.

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