Where to find very old specimens?

jefferson's picture

I'm looking for hardcopy or hi-res files of very old type, such as original work by Nicolas Jenson. Where do the revivalists get their samples?

I'm also looking for old magazines and pulp fiction in the public domain, especially British, French and German. Are there any good resources on the web?

rs_donsata's picture

What about this?


I would like to get some of these for my birthday.

hrant's picture

Well, nobody's gonna loan you their Eusebius to slap on a scanner! :-) It's not highly difficult to get to handle some of those old gems (try a good university), but getting permission to squish them down or expose them to strong light is another matter. Maybe if you had a really good macro photography setup that could work in low light, you might get somebody somewhere to OK it. The big-name "revivalists" often have important friends, or they might work directly from the punches or matrices.

But Octavo is indeed one good way to get at that type of stuff. Good facsimiles are another, but they do have to be good enough. You might also find enlargements of snippets of text here and there, like in that Gaskell article: "Photographic Enlargements of Type Forms" in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, #7, 1971, pp 51-53.


dan_reynolds's picture

Whoa, Nick Jenson

jefferson's picture

Fortunately, I don't need punches, just images of his prints.

Before I actually design anything, I want to go through the motions in FontLab with a variant of an existing typeface. I saw an enlargement of some Roman type by Jenson in 'The Elements of Typographic Style,' by Robert Bringhurst, and realized it would be a lot of fun to make an "antique" variant of it, complete with alternates. A good starter project. I might even degrade the quality further and make an "ancient" style face. Much as I adore Caslon Antique, I think it misses some of the flavor I see in this Jenson sample.

Thanks for all the suggestions! Octavo.com already has me drooling...

Miss Tiffany's picture

You could always research at different special collection libraries. Most libraries have the availability of photography and photocopying available. For instance, the L. Tom Perry Special Collections has an amazing collection of books from the incunable period and beyond.

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