An Introduction to the History of Printing Types: An Illustrated Summary of the Main Stages in the Development of Type Design from 1440 up to the Present Day: An Aid to Type Face Identification

By Geoffrey Dowding | Go to book overview
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The Italics

At this point in these introductory notes we must interrupt the story of the roman letter in order to record that of an offspring. We have seen whence the Italian humanists derived the models for their beautiful scripts--the neo-caroline hands--and how these humanistic scripts were used by the printers as models for their types. When these formal hands were written quickly the speed reacted on the shapes of the letters. The changes may be summarized thus: the letters were compressed, the round letters like 'o', for example, became elliptical (o), there was a tendency to ligaturing, or joining of adjacent letters, letter shapes were simplified, and in addition there was a tendency for these hands to incline towards the right, though this characteristic is by no means typical--some are upright and some lean backwards. In this development of writing--the cursive or chancery hands (so-named from their employment in the Papal Chancery)--we have the birth of what we are now accustomed to call our italic types.

Mr A. F. Johnson has divided italic types into four principal groups (a) The Aldine (b) the Vicentino group (c) the group which is the contemporary of old-face roman, and (d) the modernized italics.1


THE ALDINE ITALICS

Not only was Aldus a scholar, a printer, and a publisher but he was also a first-class business man. Economic and not aesthetic motives dictated his design of the new type form. Wishing to print editions of the classics in small compass and appreciating the space-saving possibilities

____________________
1
In Type Designs: their History and Development.

-43-

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