Type Blog

Thursday, March 1, 2007

An Atlas of Typeforms: Jenson Type

from An atlas of typeforms by James Sutton and Alan Bartram.

Nonius: Peripatetica. Nicholas Jenson, Venice, 1478.

pg. 21 Venetian
"Jenson's letters are finely cut, with a gradual change from thick to thin strokes. The serifs are strong and steeply sloped, those on the capitals have almost no brackets, while those in the lower case are almost only brackets. The M has serifs on the inside and the e has a small eye with an oblique bar. These details are common to the Venetian family of typefaces. But even Jenson returned to gothic typography, though the two styles seem to us totally different in appearance and association: one, the dark, constructed, highly formalized expression of the Middle Ages: the other, an open, freely drawn product of the Renaissance."

pg. 24 Modern 'Venetians'
"Eusebius (1924, E.F. Detterer) is an adaptation of Jenson's roman letter of 1470, and has an italic influenced by sixteenth century chancery italic calligraphy. Centaur was adapted by Bruce Rogers in 1929 from his private press type of 1915, and is derived from teh same Jenson original. It is much lighter in weight than true Venetians, thought it exhibits all their other characteristics. The italic, originally known as Arrighi, was based on Ludovico [Vicentino] degli Arrighi's chancery faced of 1524 (Frederick Warde 1929). Stephenson Blake Verona originated in the la Clede Foundry, USA, where it was known as la Clede Old Style, and was brought from them on the advice of R. B. Fishendon."

Eusebius, Centaur and Stephenson Blake Verona

pg. 26 Old Face Italian
"In 1495 the great Renaissance publisher Aldus Manutius brought out a book with a new design of capitals. Though roughly cut, they blended a good deal better with the lower case than the obtrusive capitals of Jenson's roman. Later the same year Aldus published Bembo's De Aetna using the same capitals but with a new lower case cut by his great punch-cutter Francesco Griffo of Bologna. This man's skill was strikingly demonstrated in the smaller size roman used for the De Epidemia of 1497. The type of De Aetna was used again in a reconsidered version in 1499 for the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili with a new alphabet of capitals.

By comparing the examples from these books on the next pages one can see a new type-design evolving which is quite distinct from Jensons', though a development from it, as one can see from comparing Jenson's books with Aldus'. The Aldine roman is the archetype of all Old Face types which during the 16th century established their ascendancy over gothic throughout Europe. The quality of Aldine roman was due to the imagination and judgement of Francesco Griffo. Its important features are a calligraphic stress, the thick strokes and the serifs being at an oblique angle as in a pen script; generous letter-width, though not as wide as Jenson's, with open counters; the capitals slightly shorter than the fairly long ascenders and descenders. The serifs are bracketed and the type shows less wear at the end of a run (Griffo may have had a harder type metal than Jenson); the crossbar of the e is rather high and horizontal. The counter of the e is therefore small, as is the bowl of the a. The letters fit closely and evenly together and are slightly condensed, without seeming at all pinched or mean. Typefaces of this kind make up well int comfortably legible pages of solid text."

De Aetna (1495), De Epidemia (1497), and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). Aldus Manutius.

pg. 34
"Poliphilus was brought out before Bembo, in 1923, and is from Aldus' roman of 1499. A facsimile revival, and quite a technical achievement, it retains all the original irregularities. Unfortunately it was not copied from the best possible pages of the original, but from one which showed the type heavier and worn; but it possesses nonetheless a very useful character for some classes of work. The italic is based on letters used by Antonio blado, 1515-67, printer to the Holy See, and designed by Arrighi in 1526.

Monotype 170 Poliphilus and 119 Blado Italic

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