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

ANTIQUE OR EGYPTIAN

The types which we know by the name of Egyptian were first shown by Vincent Figgins in his specimen book of 1815, under the name Antique,1 but at least one historian of the day ( Hansard) gave Robert Thorne the credit for designing them. Contemporary writers cannot agree on the name of the innovator of Egyptian types, but Thorne, who before his death in 1820 had actually cut several sizes and had set up specimens of them, named them Egyptian in the title lines to those specimens. William Thorowgood (neither founder nor printer), who as we have already noted purchased Thorne's foundry in 1820, used these settings of Thorne's and in them we probably have the first use of the name Egyptian for types of this kind.

Exactly why the term Egyptian was used has been the subject of much conjecture.2 The most reasonable explanation for the coining of the name seems to lie in the heightened interest in the early nineteenth century for all things Egyptian, occasioned by Napoleon's expedition to that country. While this seems to be a perfectly valid reason for first using the name, the whys and wherefores of the invention of the slab

____________________
1
Today the term remains an alternative name for Egyptian faces.
2
'These characters were often called in type-specimens and elsewhere "Egyptian" (no doubt in allusion to their "darkness"); and a London jest-book of 1806, under the heading "Fashionable Egyptian Sign-Boards," says: "An Irishman describing the Egyptian letters which at present deface the Metropolis, declared that the thin strokes were exactly the same size as the thick ones!"' D. B. Updike. Printing Types, Their History, Forms, and Use. Vol II.

-169-

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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
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Contents xv
  • List of Illustrations xvii
  • Introduction xxi
  • Part One the Book Types I 3
  • Gothic 5
  • Roman Venetian 19
  • Roman Old Face 31
  • The Italics 43
  • The Intermediate1 or Transitional Romans 59
  • The Modern-Face Romans 75
  • The Modernized Italics 87
  • Old Style 97
  • Twentieth- Century Types 101
  • Part Two the Display Types 109
  • II 109
  • Latin or Renaissance Scripts 127
  • Decorated 145
  • Shaded 155
  • Fat Face 161
  • Antique or Egyptian 169
  • Shadowed or Three-Dimensional1 175
  • Sans Serif 179
  • Reversed or Cameo 183
  • Ionic 187
  • Outline or Open 191
  • Clarendon 195
  • Calligraphic 199
  • Stencil 203
  • Typewriter 205
  • Miscellaneous Display Types 207
  • Notes on the Illustrations 209
  • Appendix I 264
  • Appendix II Serifs 267
  • Bibliography 269
  • Index 273
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