Roman Numerals, Typographic Leaves and Pointing Hands: Some Notes on Their Origin, History, and Contemporary Use

Roman Numerals, Typographic Leaves and Pointing Hands: Some Notes on Their Origin, History, and Contemporary Use

Roman Numerals, Typographic Leaves and Pointing Hands: Some Notes on Their Origin, History, and Contemporary Use

Roman Numerals, Typographic Leaves and Pointing Hands: Some Notes on Their Origin, History, and Contemporary Use

Excerpt

Like most Typophile projects of devious origin, this book has had interesting growing pains. Its initial impetus came just after we finished Ampersanding, in 1937. Leafing then through Johnson's Typographia of 1824, the passage on numeral letters attracted the copy- bent eye. This was transcribed with the hope we might do something with it.

A year or so later Luckombe's The History and Art of Printing, 1771, came to hand. Its discourse on numerals seemed strangely reminiscent. The familiarity cleared by comparison with the Johnson transcript -- there proved to be a considerable degree of "borrowing" by Johnson from Luckombe.

This rather accidental detection led to further research. In January, 1940, when the first Chap Book was in progress, we appealed for aid to Lawrence C. Wroth at the John Carter Brown Library. That busy scholar responded promptly: "I thought at first that I should find Luckombe's and Johnson's discourses on figures either in Moxon or in the French printer Fertel's Science de l'Imprimerie.

"I did not find anything there, however, so then I decided that it would be in Smith's Printer's Grammar. I have not previously encount-

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