First Designs for Roman and Italic Types

After the first 10 to 15 years of printing, while the art spread throughout the Rhine Valley and into other parts of Germany, the greatest advances in technique were made in Italy. The early typefaces were mechanical imitations of the handwritten letters in books of the era. (See also Book and Bookmaking.)

Probably the first pure roman type was used by the brothers John and Wendelin of Speier in Venice in 1469. The next year Nicolas Jenson, also a printer in Venice but a Frenchman by birth, produced a more distinguished roman font. It still serves as a model for type designers. Later the foremost printer in Venice was Aldus Manutius, who began in 1495 to publish the Greek and Latin classics. The greatest scholars in Europe--among them Erasmus, Marcus Musurus, Pietro Bembo, and Johann Reuchlin--edited his manuscripts. Aldus was the first to use the sloping type now called italic, in 1501.

Sizes of Type - Measuring Width - Fonts Type Casting by Hand and by Machine

Invention and Spread of Type and Printing

Old-Style Types by Garamond and Caslon - Bodoni Originates Modern Types

Trends in the 19th and 20th Centuries - Inexpensive Fonts