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Inventing Posters

The modern poster first appeared in France in the 19th century, but its antecedents can be found in Renaissance printmaking. Woodcut, engraving, etching, and drypoint were techniques used by the likes of Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch, and Raphael, while printmaking publishers, like Hieronymus Cock, helped popularize the standalone art print and turn it into a thriving industry.

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Black Print

The remarkable story of early African American print culture; its authors, editors, journalists, printers, and publishers. From protest pamphlets to the first Black newspapers, periodicals and books.

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The Writing Mistress

From around the beginning of the 1600s, there was a renewed interest in calligraphy. At the same time, women, known as writing mistresses, begin to teach handwriting and calligraphy to young women. Maria Strick in the Netherlands and Marie Pavie, perhaps from France, are the first two women to have their calligraphy copybooks published in print.

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Death of a Typeface

Robert Granjon (1513–90) was a French type designer who, in 1557, invented a new style of typeface that was modeled on contemporary handwriting. It later came to be know as Civilité, after the civilité of etiquette books that the typeface often appeared in. Although Granjon wished for his Civilité to become the national typeface of France, it never really caught on, and it never seriously competed with Roman and Italic fonts.

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Fun with Fonts

Today I launched two short multiple choice quizzes. The first starts at the beginning with Gutenberg, with questions about his life and his famous Bible. Some of the questions are pretty easy; others you might find rather difficult. The second game, Glorious Glyphs, tests your font identification chops by having you identify individual characters or […]

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Granjon’s Beautiful Bastard

When books began to be printed in the fifteenth century, scribes were not immediately redundant. The rich still commissioned them to produce deluxe manuscripts, governments and local authorities still required secretaries and copyists for administrative documents, and even printed books left spaces for decorated initials and other elements to be added in by hand. What’s […]

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The Most Dangerous Book in the World

On a cold morning in early autumn of 1536, in a small town on the outskirts of Brussels, William Tyndale was led from a tiny prison cell, then chained to a stake, strangled and burned. His crime? Daring to challenge the Catholic Church and his insistence on translating the Bible into English. Tyndale’s translation was […]

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