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Tag: typographic firsts

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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Printed Pandemic: Plague Books

The Black Death of the fourteenth century, a disease named after the symptomatic boils and darkened skin caused by internal bleeding, claimed as many as 200 million lives. Even by the fifteenth century, when populations were just beginning to recover, outbreaks of the same plague were still regularly reoccurring throughout Europe.

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Point, don’t point

The pointed finger must surely be one of the oldest human gestures. In deep prehistory, long before the evolution of spoken language, and when we were considerably hairier, it is not difficult to imagine one of our primitive human ancestors pointing to a lion, a landmark, or a lemon.

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The Oldest Book in America

Printing was introduced into the Americas by the Italian Giovanni Paoli, better known as Juan Pablos. The first book issued from his press in Mexico City was Doctrina breve, a Spanish handbook of Christian doctrine, written by Juan de Zumárraga, Mexico’s first bishop, and printed in 1539 — making it the Western Hemisphere’s first printed […]

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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 […]

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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 five-dollar 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 […]

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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, […]

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