Five Hundred Years of Printing

By S. H. Steinberg; John Trevitt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The era of consolidation
1550-1800

The main characteristics of the 250 years following the 'heroic century' of the printed book may be summarized as follows.

Virtually no technical progress took place in the composing and printing rooms. New typefaces represented refined imitations of the achievements of Jenson, Griffo, and Garamond rather than fresh conceptions.Printers lost their independence as the producers of their own types, obtaining their founts ready-made from the type‐ founder, with the result that a few prominent foundries gained an immense influence on the kind of type that printers had at their disposal, not only in their respective native lands but also, through a brisk export trade, all over western Europe.

The book trade evolved towards its present shape as booksellers began to function as publishers, contracting with authors and placing manufacture with printers, and sold their books direct to the public and wholesale through pamphlet dealers or chapmen. Tradesmen in the provinces and colonies undertook all these activities and more besides, such as newspaper publishing and a wider range of retail selling than simply books.

The professional author entered the arena as an independent force between the publisher and the public. The reading public widened considerably and in the process changed its character. Publishers and authors had to cater for new readers with new tastes, different from the fairly homogeneous public of churchmen, academics and sophisticated gentry whom a Gutenberg, Aldus, Stephanus or Caxton supplied with reading matter.The spread of literacy gradually induced new sections of the population to adopt the habit of reading. Women and children, in particular, presented the publisher with the potentiality of doubling or trebling his output. The periodical and newspaper press became the chief vehicles of spreading knowledge among this new public.


I. TYPE DESIGN

Roman type

During the period from the middle of the sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth century, a number of brilliant French, Dutch and English type-designers and punch‐ cutters perfected the achievements of Griffo and Garamond.Each of the typefaces which Granjon created in the sixteenth century, van Dyck and Grandjean in the seventeenth, Caslon, Baskerville, the Fourniers and Bodoni in the eighteenth, is in its kind beautiful and serviceable and has left a permanent mark on the art of typography. Held against the pioneer efforts of the first century of printing, the chief merit of these

-74-

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Five Hundred Years of Printing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Five Hundred Years of Printing *
  • Contents v
  • Reviser''s Preface vii
  • Introduction i
  • Chapter I- The First Century of Printing 1450-1550 3
  • Chapter II- The Era of Consolidation 1550-1800 74
  • Chapter III- The Nineteenth Century 1800-1900 136
  • Chapter IV- 1900-1955 170
  • Chapter V- The Postwar World 218
  • Conclusion 250
  • Select Bibliography 251
  • Index 255
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