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I Love Typography

MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF
I Love Typography
MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF

Pomp, Type & Circumstance

Within several decades of its invention in Europe, the printed or typographic book was already outselling handwritten or manuscript books. A very conservative estimate would be that 12 million books were produced from the publication of Gutenberg and Fust’s first printed Bible in about 1455 until the end of 1500. In those first decades, printing was an expensive business, and as a result, most early printers were risk averse, choosing to print Medieval staples (religious, educational and scholastic) and the classics of antiquity, recently revived by scholars of the Italian Renaissance.

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The first fashion books, Renaissance pixel fonts and the invention of graph paper

Fashion is a global, multi-billion dollar industry. From haute couture to $5 tees, it is inescapable — at least for those of us who wear clothes, that is. It is supported and promoted by vast publishing enterprises of glossy magazines and books and million-dollar advertising budgets. And although, arguably, we might say that fashion got its start when humans began wearing clothes 170,000 years ago, fashion as an industry was only really possible after the Industrial Revolution. But centuries before Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, and long before the first fashion shows of the late nineteenth century, we find seeds of an industry in the very first fashion publications.

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Renaissance memes & the chemical pleasure garden

What people read began to change during the Renaissance. The continued expansion of schools and universities and better literacy was bolstered by the European invention of print in the mid-fifteenth century. The rediscovery of classical antiquity and of the New World, the cosmic shifts, temporal and terrestrial, affected by the Reformation and the Copernican revolution, a renewed interest in mysticism and symbolism — it is in this world-turned-upside-down climate that new and novel literary genres emerged.

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The Prince & the fleur-de-lys

Written by Niccolò Machiavelli in 1513, The Prince is undoubtedly the most famous political treatise of the Renaissance and a book that is, if not actually read, familiar to many even today. More than 500 years after its first publication, it still remains both popular and controversial, surviving in popular culture through the adjective Machiavellian, a by-word for political machination, amorality and that ultimately, virtue must bow to expediency.

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The Pope’s Romance

Even prior to the completion of Gutenberg’s landmark Bible in about 1454, the print-run of 180 copies was already sold out. We know this because it was recorded in letters between Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405–1464) and his friend, the Spanish cardinal Juan de Carvajal. In an often quoted passage, De Carvajal writes to Aeneas in a letter dated 12 March 1455:

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In the Shadow of Notre Dame

The cathedral of Notre Dame has stood at the heart of France and of Paris for the best part of 1,000 years. It watched as Paris rose from a former outpost founded during the Roman Republic to become the biggest city of medieval Europe. And although European printing was born in Germany, it is in France, in the shadow of Notre Dame, that the modern book was born.

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The First Printed Math Books

Love it or hate it, dread it or revel in it, suck at it or excel in it, math makes the world go round, sending rockets to the moon, forecasting the weather, describing the motions of the planets and everything else in the cosmos. Galileo (1564–1642) famously said that ‘the universe is written in mathematical language, without which it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.’ But today we are concerned not with the math of the astronomer or physicist but with the altogether simpler but equally important branch of mathematics, arithmetic. From the Greek words for number and art, arithmetic describes the traditional operations of or fundamental manipulation of numbers, including addition and subtraction, multiplication and division.

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