The First Printed Page Numbers
The image below is a scan of a recto leaf printed by Arnold Ther Hoernen, Cologne, 1470 (Cologne’s second printer after Ulrich Zel). The book, Sermo in festo praesentationis beatissimae Mariae virginis (ISTC: ir00303000) is special in that it is the first (extant) book to include printed foliation (‘page numbers’*), here printed in the recto margins, half way down the page.
Every typeface taken seriously enough by its designer will teach valuable lessons. From Signo I learned that in designing a reverse contrast typeface, the challenge isn’t so much in the contrast, or in the black part of the letter for that matter. The conventions for that part are being disregarded, played with, reversed, so the white part of the letter has to assume greater control. And it leads one to rethink what ‘reversed’ really means.
An indulgent display face from Positype, a toolbox of type by Hold Fast Foundry, a versatile family from Bold Monday, a whimsical swash by Latinotype, a flag building typeface from Always With Honor & Scribble Tone, a humanist sans by Type Dynamic, a highly legible sans from Tipografies, and a modern sans by The Northern Block.
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.
An eroded display by HVD Fonts, a wide sans from Type Dynamic, an inline slab by Yellow Design Studio, a versatile monoline from Parachute, a geometric sans by Graviton, an elegant script from Fenotype, an experimental face by Onrepeat, and a titling face from Type Together.
The First Book Printed in Italy
During my research for an upcoming book* on the life and work of German Renaissance typographer Erhard Ratdolt, I spent quite some time looking at the introduction of printing to Italy (Ratdolt worked in Venice from 1476 to 1486, thereafter returning to his native Augsburg). The first printers in Italy were, unsurprisingly, from Germany, and they likely were associated with Gutenberg, Fust and Schoeffer. I won’t go into the details about the introduction of printing to Italy. Suffice to say, by 1465 Sweynheym and Pannartz had arrived at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, about 60 km east of Rome. The same year they printed a Latin Grammar (a schoolbook that had been incredibly popular throughout the Middle Ages) by the fourth-century tutor of Jerome, the Roman Grammarian Aelius Donatus, of which, sadly, no copy has survived.
A reversed-stress face via Klim, a friendly display from Gunnar Link, a low contrast sans by Type Dynamic, a versatile collection from Commercial Type, a personable text face by Paul Barnes, a soft sans by Indian Type Foundry, a modernist script from Kyle Wayne Benson, and a geometric sans by Latinotype.
With the holidays fast approaching, I’m sure you have it all under control. You’re smart, you planned well in advance and have already purchased your gifts, so that you’ll avoid being trampled by hordes of panicked last-minute shoppers. But just in case you haven’t, here are a few ideas:
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A whimsical serif by FontFont, a Dutch inspired family from Bold Monday, a scribble inspired face by Letters From Sweden, a rounded sans from 205, a contemporary display by Alex Trochut, a mellow sans by S-Core, playful icons from Symbolset, and an elegant sans by Rene Bieder.