Nicholas Jenson, 1475; Another possible Contextual Alternative example?

ebensorkin's picture

1475 Nicholas Jenson

I need a better sample to begin to take this seriously but it has piqued my interest.

Part of why I think it's possible is that he is thought to have trained in Mainz, and knew the type of Johann and Wendelin of Speyer (de Spira), and Sweynheym & Pannartz's Subaico.

( RE: Subaico )

It would be great to be sure about this. Does anybody have any high-rez images? Or suggestions?

Nick Shinn's picture

Then why else do you think he made them so wide?
Surely he must have been aware that in a sequence such as ‘lydis ſcripſit’, the /ſ looks as if it is stranded between two words.
The gappiness following /ſ in many combinations goes against the flow of his style, in which many glyphs are butted up against one another.

blokland's picture

Nick: Then why else do you think he made them so wide?

In Sweynheym and Pannartz’s type as used in Opera from 1469 the f and ſ have clear kerning and there doesn’t seem to have been a dot used for the i. The other accents seem to be placed in such a way that there isn’t any collision if preceded by f or ſ, but it looks quite tight.

Da Spira’s type as used in Historia Alexandri Magni from 1473 shows the i and the ı, the latter for combining with the f or ſ. So why does Jenson’s type differ from these two types?

Stanley Morison writes in Four centuries of fine printing (London, 1949) on page 19 after mentioning that Jenson’s type ‘did not materially differ from that of the Da Spiras’: ‘Jenson's associate and successor, Herbort, issued a catalogue of books for sale (? 1482) which, […] contained a lengthy commendation of Jenson’s type wherein exaggeration was certainly not lacking. […]. The panegyrist is, however, well within the mark when he claims that “the characters are so methodically and carefully finished by that famous man that the letters are not smaller or larger or thicker than reason demands or than may afford pleasure”.

As you know, I strongly believe that the Jensonian model was a clever combination of optical preferences and a sophisticated systematized and standardized system for cutting, striking, and casting (see also my PhD-blog). Griffo and Garamont refined this model further, and for those who are conditioned with Garamont’s model, Jenson’s one looks perhaps a bit crude. But he paved the way for his successors.


hrant's picture

I reckon that this text will not be too diſſıcult to read, although I made some strange miftakes.

Sometimes one can be miſſed however.


blokland's picture

Hrant: Sometimes one can be miſſed however.

Yes, like mifs Univerfe in bikini under the miftletoe ignored by mufcular men on a mifty Chriftmas day.

I'm off to the dentift now.


brianskywalker's picture


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