New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
Most of the type-designs we use nowadays have their origins in the thirties of the 20th century. But their real roots are much older. Since good examples of the earliest type are hard to get by, the Amsterdam chair for the History of the Book in cooperation with the Special Collections of the Amsterdam University has started a project that will make it possible for anyone anywhere to examine early typedesign in detail. Acces to this material is difficult: the books are kept in the Special Collections of university libraries and national libraries and most times it is forbidden to take pictures.
We have started to publish high resolution pictures of early type-specimen on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bookhistorian/
This is a work in progress that will take years to finish. We have started on the 15th and 16th century. So far about 6500 pictures have been published. This includes high resolution pictures of type and also pictures of initials and ornaments in a lower resolution. We aim to publish at least 100.000 examples of type and initials and ornaments from the 15th-18th century - 20.000 in 2010.
Paul Dijstelberge type historian University of Amsterdam
Jensons famous first roman type. (a low-res example)