Friday, March 11, 2016

Italics & Aldus Manutius



When I first began research for this post I started by finding information about italic type and its modern uses, obviously designers and the average person of the modern day have a very specific use of it as a member of a type family, however I discovered there is as much of a rich history behind it as one would think of when imagining Gutenberg's innovations. 

Symbol used by the Aldine Press


Italicized type was invented in the 14th century by a venetian named Aldus Manutius who started the Aldine Press in is regarded as one of the leading publishers of the Italian renaissance. Manutius, with the help of another renaissance type designer Ludovico Ariggh. The goal was to create a typeface that would be easier to read than the current cursive face; Chancery Hand. The Aldine typeface as it was called by italians was heavily influenced by calligraphic type where the fonts were fluid and slanted a small degree to the right. 

One of the first renditions of Aldine type

The first appearance of Aldine type is a very small note in The Epistole of St. Catherine of Siena in 1500 in a woodcut illustration. The very next year Manutius and a publisher, Francesco Griffo, published the first book in all italic text within pocket versions of Satires of Juvenal & Persius.  Although the typeface was created by Manutius, copies soon began arising and the term Italics came into being as a way non-italians referred to Aldine type. The first iteration of Italicized type did not have slanted uppercase letters, which were integrated later by type designers in Lyon, France.

The Italic/Aldine characters are on the heart and
book in St. Catherine's hands (note the feet...)

Example of early Chancery handwritten text.

Back to the Books

Manutius not only helped design italicized type, but was also responsible for creating the first inexpensive and portable books. Prior to this, the majority of books that were found were enormous, elaborate and expensive volumes, often found in churches, that a person had to travel to in order to read. The books Manutius designed were much smaller and more simply designed, for an average person to be able to pick it up and take it with them anywhere.

(Audio discussing the life and achievements of Aldus Manutius)

No comments:

Post a Comment