a curiosity

giusto's picture

I need help identifying this bit of type. The image was taken by my friend Ben Kiel while on a tour of the type-savy land of the Dutch. The glyph reminds me of the Renaissance born symbol for addition; representing the first letter of the word piú or plus. Alternatively, it could be a fancy way of depicting a new paragraph. Any thoughts?

curiosity.png78.54 KB
Miguel Sousa's picture

Hi Nick, nice to see you around :)
I believe that was taken at the Plantin-Moretus Museum, so that might actually be an Original Claude Garamond.

> The glyph reminds me of the Renaissance born symbol for addition; representing the first letter of the word piú or plus.

Are you referring to this? http://www.roma.unisa.edu.au/07305/symbols.htm#Plus

timd's picture

Isn't it a pilcrow, a plus symbol would be a P shape?

benkiel's picture

Ah, I don't remember which it was: sadly I didn't take very good notes on the pictures that I took. Miguel's guess is probably pretty good.

Miguel Sousa's picture

Nick, do you want to ID the typeface or the character?
(The Type ID forum is normally used for typeface ID, but we can also do glyph ID :)

Miguel Sousa's picture

1520 Garamond Archaics by Tiro Typeworks might have that character.

Dunno how it's called or what is meant to represent, tho :( . Can anyone enlighten us here? Is there a wiki entry for this thing?

giusto's picture

Yes, this would be a glyph ID I hate putting my topics in the wrong place ... sorry.

It took a bit of searching but I found the image my mind was relating to Ben's picture. The symbol for addition (attached image) is really different. oops. I don't know what I was thinking ... and yes it would be a p-shape; at the hour I was thinking of this, I neglected to reverse the original. Thanks for the moment of clarity.

Miguel, do you think it's a '¿' …?

Miguel Sousa's picture

> Miguel, do you think it’s a ‘¿’ …?

No, not at all. I believe that glyph was put in INVERTED QUESTION MARK (U+00BF) on 1530 Garamond Archaics due to the lack of a better place. In fact, there's not really a proper place as I think Unicode does not have code points for a lot of the glyphs present in that font.

> Yes, this would be a glyph ID I hate putting my topics in the wrong place … sorry.

No worries, there's not really a proper forum for glyph ID either :^D

giusto's picture

Thanks for the insight Miguel!

wmayer's picture


I'm new here, but may be a little bit of help.

The glyph is an abbreviation of the latin suffix -que (meaning and). In old fonts the may be up to 3 or more different forms of this abbreviation. This kind of abbreviation was used in prints till the end of the 16. century (maybe a bit longer).


paul d hunt's picture

wolfgang, i believe you're right about the glyph in the middle, but the one on the left is another abbreviation with a p. perhaps it's for per?

wmayer's picture

hello paul,

the glyp on the left is pro; the abbreviation of per would be a p with a bar crossing the descender.


paul d hunt's picture

aha! and there we have it, folks. wofgang, is there a resource somewhere online that documents all these different abbreviations?

wmayer's picture

sorry for answering late ...

there is an excellent work on Latin and Italian abbreviations of the middle ages by Adriano Capelli. It covers about14000 forms. Although this book is about manuscript abbreviations it covers all the forms used in print – as those are derived from the manuscript ones.


You may also be interested in the forms used by Gutenberg. There is a page at



Miguel Sousa's picture

Great resources! Thanks Wolfgang.

twardoch's picture

BTW, I just realized that Bringhurst's "The Elements of Typographic Style", version 3.1, still misnomes the 1530 Garamond font by Ross Mills as "1520 Garamond". I've notified Robert.


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