Invention and Spread of Type and Printing

The Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans printed from movable type well before the Western world discovered the art in the 15th century. Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany, is generally credited with the invention of printing from movable type between 1440 and 1450. Historians believe that his invention consisted of the combination of a number of existing processes. His major contribution probably was the making of adjustable metal molds for casting types of different sizes accurately and in large quantities. (See also Gutenberg.)

By the end of the year 1500, printing presses had been set up in more than 250 cities throughout Europe. Books printed before the end of 1500 were called incunabula, meaning "cradle books."

Among the printers of the incunabular period the names of Gutenberg, Johann Fust, and Peter Schoffer are outstanding. Anton Koberger of Nuremberg, a publisher and printer, put forth many important volumes. Among them were editions of the Bible in Latin and German. His most famous book is probably the 'Nuremberg Chronicle', printed in 1493. It is illustrated with hundreds of woodcuts. The portraits are all imaginary, and the same block is often repeated as the picture of different persons.

William Caxton set up the first printing press in England in 1476. His books were mainly in English instead of Latin. They included Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' and Thomas Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur'. Few have survived because they were read to tatters.

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

Invention and Spread of Type and Printing First Designs for Roman and Italic Types

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

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