Pierre Marteau(Peter Hammer)

Portrait: Peter Hammer
Portrait of Peter Hammer, etching, around 1810
Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig

Pierre Marteau(Peter Hammer)

Getting past the censor with fake imprints

What? You haven’t heard of the famous firm, Peter Hammer in Cölln, who have been in existence for a century by now? A company whose books still appear at almost every fair. (ed. trans.)

The Leipzig publisher Georg Voss, 1794

Several hundred books appear from one publisher over the course of around two hundred years, a publisher like no other until then. The enterprising mock publishing house that went by the names of Pierre Marteau or Peter Hammer operated in Cologne at some times, in Amsterdam at others, more rarely at other locations.

The most-commonly used fake imprint, “Pierre Marteau chez Cologne”, was first used by the Amsterdam publisher Elzevier in 1660. French, German and other European publishers were soon using the imprint and its German counterpart Peter Hammer for political, anti-clerical and erotic writings, and also pirate editions, as a means of getting around the censor. High-profile companies like Brockhaus, Cotta and Wigand counted among the almost 40 German printers and publishers who availed themselves of the pseudonym.