The period between 1672 and 1677 was significant in Valvasor’s life. During this time his enormous passion for presenting to the world his home country Carniola finally took shape.
The first step was to establish the graphic institution. It was for the reproduction of topographic paintings, which were well developed and popular in German countries. The workshop had a broad spectrum of co-workers: the copper engraver Andrej Trost was the only one who worked on all Valvasor’s publications, the illustrator Janez Koch from Novo Mesto, Matija Greischer, Peter Mungerstorff, Johann Wiriex, Jernej Ramschuessl, a local man, and the Croatian poet Pavel Ritter Vitezovič, who was also a graphic artist, a man of letters and Valvasor’s close friend.
Most of the group must have gathered on the day when the workshop was opened, on 12th April 1678. Valvasor wrote then: ”I was also – not to boast – the first who brought copper printing into this glorious Duchy of Carniola. Here at Bogenšperk Castle, I established in the year 1678 the workshop and I maintained for several years the copperplate engravers and printers.” It was a bold undertaking for that time. The result was the publication of six topographic or historical–topographic, and three art works (the last two were printed in Nuremberg, Bavaria). Valvasor was not only the initiator and leader of the project, he also drew the images for the production of the graphics of places, castles and convents. Very important, although less well known, was the fact that during the operation of the graphic institution three maps were made: the map of Carniola in the year 1684 and the maps of Carinthia and Croatia in 1685. Apart from these, there were the two maps of Kolpa River and Lake Cerknica published in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola.
Then came the following publications:
Passion booklet – Dominicae passions icones – the first work written about the Bogenšperk Castle published in 1679. The images of suffering Christ are dedicated to the Bishop of Ljubljana and Count Jože Rabatt, and 17 copper engravings on the theme of Christ’s suffering are the first graphic publications of this kind in Slovenia.
The Topography of the Modern Duchy of Carniola -Topographia ducatus Carnioliae modernae – an album published in 1679. Following the German alphabetical order, it shows the towns (19), the market towns (32), the monasteries and castles (more than 300) of Carniola at the time. Most of the images, 320 copper engravings including the title page, Valvasor later included in the famous Book XI of The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (index and list of the castles). It was printed by Janez Krstnik Mayr, the Ljubljana printer.
The topography of the Lamberg castles – Topographia arcium Lambergarium – the third work published in 1679. Valvasor presented 28 castles, taken from the contemporary Topography of the Duchy of Carniola. For the purpose of publication of this book, Valvasor remade the plates. He removed the numbers, and with the exception of six, also the Slovenian names of the castles. The work that presents the property of the counts of the time – the Lambergs of Carniola is dedicated to the Imperial Member of the Council, Count Janez Maksimiljan Lamberg.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses – Ovidii metamorphoseos icones was published as an artistic publication and its idea is derived from the work of Latin poet Publius Ovidius Nasa. It shows famous myths, tales, short stories, heroic stories from the beginning of the cosmos till the present. It gives us 96 scenes with short Latin explanations and with double verse in German. They are also carved into the panels. The work is dedicated to Count Wolfgang Engelbert von Auersperg. The copper engravings Valvasor later sold to the printer Janez Krstnik Mayr who in 1685 in Salzburg published the extended reprint of the work without acknowledging Valvasor.
The topography of contemporary Duchy of Carinthia – Topographia archiducatus Carinthiae modernae was published in 1681. There are 224 copper engravings representing castles, towns, squares and monasteries that existed in Carinthia of the time. Eight pages, the list of the paintings and the owners of the castles were printed by Janez Krstnik Mayr in German. A special feature are the coats-of-arms that appear within some images.
The topography of Salzburg Carinthia – Topographia Carinthiae Salisburgensis is the second work published in 1681 and was at the same time the last topography that was written at the Bogenšperk castle. The selection of the 26 copper engravings from the Topography of contemporary Carinthia represents the properties of the Salzburg Archbishopric in the Carinthia region. The topography was dedicated to Salzburg Archbishop Maximilian Gandolf von Kuenburg by Valvasor.
The scene of the human death in three parts – Theatrum mortis humanae tripartitum was published in 1682. There are three chapters: I. Death Dance, II. Various kinds of death, III: Suffering of the doomed. It took three years to publish, there were only three copper engravings printed at the Bogenšperk Castle while the complete text was printed in Ljubljana by Janez Krstnik Mayr. Valvasor dedicated the book with 6 unmarked pages and 256 marked ones to Albert Reichart, the historian of Carinthia. He was at that time Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Paul.
The work in the printing shop finally ceased after 1682 because of financial problems.