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PRINTING was introduced to Lith- uania in 1524 when Francis Skoryna, Belorussian by descent, established a printing press in Vilnius. It was set up in the house of Jacob Babich, chief magistrate of Vilnius, and is therefore sometimes referred to by his name. The first book was printed in Cyrillic type in Belorussian (1525) and consisted of an excerpt from the New Testament titled Apostol (The Apostle). In 1530 Skoryna went to Konigsberg, East Prussia (Lithuania Minor), and from that time on there is no more information about his press at Vilnius. In Konigsberg Lithuanian language books were printed by Weinreich's press, among them Mazvydas' Protestant catechism, the first known printed Lithuanian book (1547). Nicholas Radvilas, chancellor of Lithuania, established a printing press at Brest-Litovsk for the purpose of turning out Protestant materials in Polish. One of its achievements is a translation of the Bible (1563) that has since become a monument to the Polish language. The chancellor's son Nicholas Christopher, after converting to Catholicism, transferred the press to Vilnius in 1575 and donated it to the Jesuits. A year earlier the Mamonich family of merchants had opened their own press in that city. Active until1625, it was responsible for about 70 books, including the Third Lithuanian Statute (1588). The Jesuit press, subsequently known as that of the Academy of Vilnius (1579) and of the University of Vilnius (1803), printed over 3000 publications, including 140 in Lithuanian. Printing presses were likewise maintained by other Catholic orders (Basilian, Franciscan, Piarist, Vincentian) and by Orthodox and Protestant organizations. Technically wellequipped, the Piarist press (1754-1836) printed three volumes of Codex di'plomaticus, the first collection 'of Lithuanian historical documents edited by Matthew Dogiel. A Protestant press founded by Janusz Radvilas, grand hetman of Lithuania, in 1651 at Kėdainiai brought out a number of Lithuanian religious texts.
Printing was done in various languages and in diverse characters, including Hebrew and Arabic. At first circulation was limited to 200-300 copies, gradually increasing ten-fold. Books were profusely illustrated with woodcuts and expensively bound. From the 18th century on lithography came into use. During the time of the Russian occupation, especially after the 1831 uprising, when monasteries were being closed down, some presses voluntarily or forcibly went out of operation. In their place private commercial enterprises sprang up. Between 1803 and 1915 approximately 25 printing shops operated for a shorter or longer time in Vilnius alone.
The first commercial press was founded in 1803 in Vilnius by Joseph Zawadski, who had come from Poland and had learned his trade in Germany, like many other printers then working in Lithuania. In 1805 he took over the University press, installed the equipment he already owned, and acquired the right to print University publications. When this privilege was taken from him in 1828, he bought a building in which he housed what would for some time be Vilnius' best printing press (active until 1940). Until the Press Ban (1864), Zawadski was printing most Lithuanian books; they totaled over 130. During the Press Ban (q.v.) Lithuanian books in Latin characters had to be printed in areas not under Russian control, usually East Prussia (Lithuania Minor). The Lithuanian-owned press at Ragainė (Ragnit) gave birth to the first few issues of Aušra (The Dawn), newspaper of Lithuania's national reawakening. Later issues of this and other newspapers, together with many books, were published by Martynas Jankus press, established at Bitėnai (1893) and later transferred to Klaipėda (1909); Enzys Jagomastas' press in Tilžė (Tilsit), established in 1896; and Otto von Mauderode's German press, founded in Tilze in 1883. The 1908 catalog of this last-mentioned publisher lists 134 Lithuanian publications.
When the Press Ban was lifted in 1904, Vilnius and Kaunas became centers of the printing trade. That same year Petras VileiSis opened a shop for the publishing of the first Lithuanian daily Vilniaus Žinios (The Vilnius News); the paper ran until 1909. Martynas Kukta, manager of this press, established his own printing house in 1906, which was the largest in Lithuania prior to World War I. In 1905 Saliamonas Banaitis opened the first Lithuanian press in Kaunas; he printed periodicals as well as books published by the St. Casimir Society. Other larger presses were the Catholic one at Seinai (1905-15) and the Protestant one at Birzai (1912-1915). During the German occupation (1915-1918) work at almost all printing shops was stopped; in many cases the type metal and other equipment was confiscated. But a press in Kaunas used by the Germans for military purposes did print a pro-German newspaper called Dabartis (The Present).
When the ndependent Lithuanian state was reestablished in 1918, the government acquired the just-mentioned press in 1919 to publish its official organ Lietuva. M. Kukta's press in Vilnius was reorganized by its owner and his new partners under the name of Švyturys (The Beacon). When the Poles overran Vilnius (1920) this press was moved to Kaunas and in 1928 merged with the government press, changing its name to Spindulys (The Beam). Most of its shares being owned by the Ministry of Finance, Spindulys soon grew into a modern press and bindery fully equipped to handle any special tasks. Five other large establishments were active in Kaunas. Šviesa, (The Light), owned by the St. Casimir Society, printed religious books, textbooks and a number of magazines. Raidės (The Letter) was founded as a cooperative, the workers receiving a share of its profits; it printed many of the publications of Kaunas University and of the Agricultural Academy of Dotnuva. The three remaining concerns engaged mainly in newspaper printing; these had rotary presses and facilities to print in color. Varpas (The Bell), established in 1922, put out the liberal daily Lietuvos žinios (Lithuanian News); Žaibas (The Lightning) from 1930 onwards printed the Catholic daily Rytas (Morning), later XX amžius (Twentieth Century); and Viltis (Hope) published the official organ of the Nationalist government, Lietuvos Aidas (Echo of Lithuania). Important presses in other cities included Lithuania (established in 1912) and Rytas (Morning, 1924) in Klaipėda; Šešupė (1914) and Dirva (The Field, 1919) in Marijampole; and Titnagas (Flint, 1921) in Siauliai. A number of monasteries (Franciscans in Kretinga, the Marians in Marijampole) and dioceses (Panevezys, TelSiai) maintained their own printing shops. If one includes the dozens of small private printing and polygraphic shops, during the period of Independence there were about 100 such establishments in the country, employing no less than 1600 people.
After World War II the printing industry was nationalized by the Soviet administration. Some of the presses that survived the war were liquidated or consolidated to form larger ones. From the pre-Soviet period there are Vaizdas (The View, in Vilnius since 1940), Raidė, Rytas, and Titnagas. Other old shops acquired new names; the A. Sirkinas' press in Vilnius was renamed PergalS (Victory), and the Spindulys in Kaunas became the Karolis Požėla Press (renamed after a famous communist). A new building was completed for the latter in 1967; its strong pre-war capabilities having been expanded and improved, it performs complicated printing tasks which have earned it several international awards. It is one of the best publishing houses in the entire Soviet Union. In 1969 in Lithuania there were about 50 printing shops with roughly 3500 employees.
Outside of Lithuania, especially in the United States, printing shops were established by Lithuanian immigrants mainly to publish newspapers. Some of them have survived until our day, while others shut down when the newspapers ceased to be published. The first press, which in 1874 started publishing the weekly Gazieta Lietuviszka (The Lithuanian Newspaper), was located in New York but did not operate for long. A press owned by Juozas Paukstys in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, began publishing the weekly Lietuvninkų Vienybė (Lithuanian Unity) in 1886, and was the first to acquire the Lithuanian diacritic type instead of the Polish. Two newspaper presses which also produced books and lasted longer were that of Antanas Olšauskas in Chicago, which printed the weekly Lietuva (Lithuania) from 1892-1920, and that of Tomas Astramskas in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Taken over by Rev. A. Milukas in1894, the latter was moved under the name of Žvaigždė (The Star) to Philadelphia in 1909 where it operated until 1943. Other still surviving and in most cases recently modernized presses principally associated with newspaper publication are those of the weekly Keleivis (The Traveler, since 1905) in Boston; the first Lithuanian daily in America Naujienos (The News, since 1914) in Chicago; the weekly Darbininkas (The Worker), founded in Boston in 1915, taken over by the Franciscan Fathers in 1950 and transferred to Brooklyn, New York; the daily Draugas (The Friend, since 1916) in Chicago: and the weekly Dirva (The Field, since 1916) in Cleveland. Among the printing shops founded by post-World War II immigrants, the following are especially productive: Lietuvių Dienos (Lithuanian Days, since 1950) in Los Angeles; Morkūnas printing press (since 1951) in Chicago; and the Lithuanian Encyclopedia Press (since 1953) in Boston. The latter published the 36-volume Lietuvių Enciklopedija (Lithuanian Encyclopedia, 1953-1969) and is at present publishing the Encyclopedia Lituanica.
In Canada, Europe, and Australia there are likewise printing shops owned by Lithuanian immigrants for the main purpose of newspaper publication (see Periodicals).
Bib.: L. VIadimirovas, Pranciškus Skoryna - Vilniaus spaudos pradininkas, Vilnius 1956; Z. Ivinskis, "Die Druckerei der Jesuiten in Vilnius und die ersten litauischen katolischen Bucher," Commentationes Balticae, No. 1, 1953 (Bonn, Germany); A. Kawecka-Gryczowa and others, Drukarse dawnej Polski od XV do XVIII wieku. Vol. 5 (Lithuania), Wroclaw, 1959; V. Abramavičius, "Senųjų lietuviškų knygų spaustuvės," Senoji Lietuviška. knyga, Kaunas, 1947; V. Merkys, "Lietuvos poligrafijos įmonės 1795-1915," Spauda ir spaustuvės, Vilnius, 1973.

Text from the ENCYCLOPEDIA LITUANICA I-VI.  Boston, 1970-1978