- Printing arrived in the late 15th century. Thomas van der Noot published several works from 1508 to 1520. Following the city's designation as capital (1531) the need to publish official documents encouraged printing operations. In 1557, Michel van Hamont was named official court printer, although his press produced few books. Firms operated by Roger Velpuis and Jean Mommaert dominated the scene at the end of the 16th century through most of the 17th century. There were 140 printing operations and bookshops in Brussels throughout the 18th century with a total of 21 and 11, respectively, in 1785.A decree of 1793 forbade reprinting texts from France, which caused a downturn in activity. The industry revived in 1815 when heavy censorship and laws limiting the number of presses in France accrued to Brussels advantage.In 1818, the first printing press made of iron arrived. Lithography was brought by Charles Senefelder, brother of the inventor. Philippe-Marie-Guillaume Vandermaelen published a groundbreaking Atlas Universel (Universal atlas) in six volumes (1825-1827) employing the new technique.In 1830, there were 52 printing presses in the metropolitan area. Beginning in 1836, firms profited handsomely from counterfeit reprinting of texts published in France, which they sold at low prices and for which the authors received no percentage of the profits. Following complaints from French writers, such production was ended in 1852. In 1838, Jean-Baptiste Bruylant (1817-1886) founded a publishing house and printing works that, through acquisitions, became a major firm. Brussels remains the center of the publishing industry in Belgium.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.