Renaissance ‘font format’

In the course of time I have posted some info on my PhD research titled Harmonics, Patterns, and Dynamics in Formal Typographic Representations of the Latin Script | The regularization, standardization, systematization, and unitization of roman and italic type since their Renaissance origin until the Romain du Roi on this forum. Based on my more recent findings I now think it’s possible that movable type was developed as a ‘font format’, in which different horizontal and vertical dynamics and dimensions for (different point sizes of) Gothic and roman type were captured in (geometric) models and in which intelligence was put in (the proportions and related spacing of) punches and matrices to make the cutting, striking, justification and casting as simple as possible. This also would have made the distribution of roman and italic type all over Europe easier.

There is ample proof that the font technology developed in the 1970s and 1980s at for instance URW and Adobe is the result of a cooperation/interaction between type designers and software developers. That probably also has been the case at other companies involved in font-technology development. Perhaps movable type was the result of a comparable interaction between artists, i.e. calligraphers, and craftsmen, i.e. engravers and gold smiths too.

I think it’s quite plausible that different type design and production methods, basically the one that ‘relies on the eye’ and the forenamed ‘systematized’ one, were used besides each other in Renaissance Italy, but that Jenson’s (production) model became dominant because it was adapted by Griffo and subsequently copied by Garamont. Nowadays we mostly think of this trio as excellent ‘type designers’, but in their times their types must have been especially very practical to (re)produce by the endusers.

At the Tag der Schrift at the Berufsschule für Gestaltung Zürich on 25 May I will elaborate on this ‘font format’ hypothesis. For those who are interested, I have made the slides already available for downloading.

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hrant's picture

Interesting stuff. I think the production "hybridity" you mention makes great natural sense. And that document is wonderful - thank you for posting it. Maybe a voice recording could accompany it one day? :-)

hhp

George Thomas's picture

Very nice, but I would like to point out two errors.

Page 4: "...in his attempt to mistify the quality..."; "mistify" probably should be spelled "mystify".

Page 68: "...its own tail. To able to use one's..." should read "...its own tail. To be able to use one's...".

I think Hrant's suggestion for audio is great. I would love to hear the presentation accompanying this document. Thanks for posting it.

blokland's picture

George: […] two errors.

Corrected; thanks.

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blokland's picture

I posted some additional info here.

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blokland's picture

Standardized Casting 2013: The Movie

hrant's picture

Nice!

hhp

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