This book is intended simply as an introduction to a subject which has already been well documented by D. B. Updike, A. F. Johnson, Stanley Morison, Paul Beaujon, Harry Carter, James Wardrop and others. It has been written to help those students who have not as yet had an opportunity to study the work of these authors with any thoroughness, if indeed at all: or, having both opportunity and inclination, yet feel dismayed at the immensity of the subject--covering as it does so many countries and compassing a period of over five hundred years. From that point it may only be a short step to questioning the need to delve into the history of printing types at all: to regard it as a field remote from present day needs & the task of earning a living, in fact, one best left to scholars--to the historians of printed books and ephemera--some of whom they realize may already have devoted a lifetime to such research.
Yet without some knowledge of the history of type faces--of the historical, personal, economic, industrial, & other factors which determined the development of types in certain ways at certain times--& without some familiarity with the ways in which the great printer-publishers of the past have used those types, we cannot hope to be able to identify type faces, to choose them intelligently, to mix them with assurance, or to produce with them work having that quality of inevitability which the late Mr Bruce Rogers said always marked successful typography.
In this Introduction types have been grouped and the groups appear in chronological order. Each group of faces is prefaced with a brief historical note, the material for which in most instances I am entirely indebted to the historians cited above. Following these historical notes, and confined to the book faces, are notes on the characteristics of the types in the particular groups, written in the hope that they will help to facilitate the identification of individual specimens. For these analyses I am especially indebted to Mr A. F. Johnson of the Department of Printed Books, British Museum, and also to Mr W. Turner Berry, until recently Librarian of the St Bride Foundation Printing Library.