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Unusual Fifteenth-Century Fonts

Unusual Fifteenth-century Fonts

Günther Zainer from Reutlingen introduced printing to Augsburg, Germany in 1468. He likely trained in Strasbourg with Johann Mentelin (who later went into business with Jenson and Johannes de Colonia in Venice). Zainer, during his decade-long career (he died in 1478), published some 100 books.

Günther Zainer used two Gothic types and three Romans. His Roman types are among the most unusual produced during the fifteenth century.

Zainer’s first roman (Type 3:107R) of 1472 is already leaving behind the Gothic influences of the very earliest roman types, but note the H with the ‘pearl’ in the crossbar.

GfT0462.2-zainer

Günther Zainer (Type 3:107R)

This decoration is taken a step further with his next Roman (Type 4:95R)** used from 1472 through 1477. Note the ‘pearls’ in the letters H, I, L, M, N, and T.

GfT0462.3-zainer

Günther Zainer (Type 4:95R)

His third roman (Type 4*:95R), first used in 1473, is unusual in that it mixes Roman and Gothic majuscules (capitals). You can see too very clear Gothic (Gothic Rotunda / Semitextualis Formata) influences in the lowercase.

GfT0666.1-zainer-4*-95R

Günther Zainer (Type 4*:95R)

This typeface is better classified a semi-roman, an interesting devolution and departure from his two earlier Romans.

Images courtesy of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

** Konrad Haebler attributes this font (Type 4:95R; GfT0464) to Johann Bämler who used it for Sententiarum variationes, seu Synonyma (ISTC: if00201700) ca. 1479. However, it is almost certainly the work of Günther Zainer.