Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Typography history

Typography is the study of type and type faces, the evolution of printed letters. Since man did not begin to write with type, but rather the chisel, brush, and pen, it is the study of handwriting, that provides us with the basis for creating type designs.

The first Modern typeface is attributed to Frenchman Firmin Didot, and first graced the printed page in 1784. His types were soon followed by the archetypal Didone from Bodoni. The Italian type designer, punchcutter and printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) drew his influence from the Romains du Roi and the types of John Baskerville, for whom he showed great admiration.

Bodoni will forever be associated with the hordes of digital interpretations from just about every type foundry on earth—the fontbook devotes some 14 pages to flavors of Bodoni; some are faithful digital renderings, others well-crafted interpretations; while others still are nothing but parodies, suitable only for poster headlines or the typographic scrap-heap. However, Bodoni was a prolific type designer, completing hundreds of typefaces; the Museo Bodoniano in Parma, houses more than 25,000 of his punches! Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico¹ (1818) contains 142 roman typefaces and their corresponding italics—and that’s just volume one. The second volume includes numerous ornaments, Arabic, Greek, Russian, and Tibetan types, to name but a few.


1. High and abrupt contrast between thick and thin strokes;
2. Abrupt (unbracketed) hairline (thin) serifs
3. Vertical axis
4. Horizontal stress
5. Small aperture

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