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PARKER TYPE HISTORY · November 11, 2010

Mike Parker’s Story of Type: Manutius et al

Chapter II, fifth installment. Italy. Venice and Rome more specifically. We meet great writing masters, punchcutters, and printers in such names as Manutius, Griffo, Tagliente, Arrighi, and Blado.


II. Old Style Roman and Italic Typefaces (continued)

Aldus Manutius (Venetian, ca 1450-1515)
Francesco Griffo (Venetian, died ca 1517)

Ten years after Jenson’s death Aldus Manutius and his brilliant punchcutter, Francesco Griffo, moved to Venice, where they printed from 1495 until Aldus’ death twenty-five years later. He ran four presses, the first industrial printer. Griffo’s first roman type appeared in 1495 in Cardinal Bembo’s “De Aetna.” In 1532 this model was adopted as a point of departure in Paris by Antoine Augereau and Claude Garamont, whose mature designs were to become the earliest type to appear completely familiar to our eyes.


Sample of original type specimen by Aldus Manutius, from Pietro Bembo’s “De Aetna,” printed 1495–96. Source: Wikipedia

Giovannantonio Tagliente (Venetian, ca 1465-1528)

Writing master and author of the writing manual “Lo Presente Libro” of 1524. The Monotype Corporation used his free standing designs as the model for their Bembo Italic lowercase, using a slanted version of his upright capitals for the italic.


Sample of original writing manual “Lo Presente Libro” by Giovannantonio Tagliente, printed 1524. Source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Ludovico degli Arrighi (Roman, ca 1490-1527)
Antonio Blado, (Roman, active ca 1515-1567)

Strictly speaking Antonio Blado was not a punchcutter or designer of type. He worked as a printer at the Papal Chancery in Rome, replacing the scribes’ individual documents with printed editions. He used the types cut by Ludovico degli Arrighi, a professional calligrapher who became a creative punchcutter. He was also the first calligrapher known to produce printed specimens of his work. These were produced in “La Operina,” 1522, and “Il Modo de Temperate le Penne,” 1523, in Rome, a move toward the north and east.


Sample of original italic typeface designed by Ludovico Arrighi circa 1527. Source: Wikipedia

Tobias Frere-Jones's Pietro is an inspired reworking of Manutius's type, giving the typeface a contemporary update for use in Worth magazine text, which was commissioned in the mid 90s.


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