Author Topic: A history of the world in five typefaces  (Read 9488 times)

Joe Carillo

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A history of the world in five typefaces
« on: October 15, 2017, 05:47:34 PM »
In his recently released book The Visual History of Type, Paul McNeil says five typefaces represent paradigm shifts in how we communicate. First and foremost was Johannes Gutenberg’s Bastarda typeface in 1454 at the dawn of the printing revolution, which was spurred by the need to reproduce the Holy Bible quickly in huge quantities the better to proselytize the world’s heathens.


McNeil describes the pivotal role of the Bastarda: “Since the 11th century, indulgences had been awarded by the church for the remission of sins. This involved costly, labour-intensive procedures where monastic scribes would write thousands of identical documents by hand. Gutenberg’s decisive contribution to printing – and to the direction of Western culture – was devised to solve this commercial problem. The invention of type in the form of single letters cast on individual bodies allowed the reproduction of uniform documents in huge quantities, rapidly, adaptably, accurately and, above all, cheaply.”

Over the next five centuries, Bastarda was followed by the Aldine Italic (1501), the Romain du Roi (1695), Figgins’s San Serif (1832), and New Alphabet (1967).




Read Paul McNeil’s article about his book The Visual History of Type in the October 11, 2017 issue of The Irish Times now!
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 05:58:47 PM by Joe Carillo »