The invention of printing from movable types in Europe dates from about 1440.The originators of the new art naturally took as models for their types the formal manuscript hands of the day which were at that time predominantly in a letter known to us now as gothic or blackletter. Gothic was the derisive name given by the Renaissance humanists to the compressed, angular, and heavy style of writing used at that time for formal texts all over Europe. To them it was= barbarous.
Printing from movable types put the professional copyists out of business but the books printed in these earliest of all types had spaces left for initials, marginal decorations and line finishings, for it was the wish of the printers that their work might be taken for that of the scribes: the pages were completed by illuminators. One of the most magnificent books to be set in black-letter type was the Gutenberg or 42-line Bible printed at Mainz circa 1455.
This historical note, although correctly placed chronologically, is nevertheless only included here for the sake of completeness. Black- letter types were originally widely used in Europe as text types, i.e. as types for continuous reading (especially in church service books) but now their use for text matter survives only in Germany, and even there they are gradually being ousted by the roman letter. Elsewhere, that is outside Germany, the use of black-letter is confined to display sizes in ecclesiastical and legal work. Forms of it also survive in ephemeral printing, for example, in newspaper title pieces.
Black-letter types have been divided into four main groups (1) Texturas (2) Fere-humanisticas or Gotico-antiquas (3) Rotundas or Round-