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An Introduction to Printing

introduction : early history of printing : printing in europe : the spread of print : printing in england : printing in scotland : later printing illustration : type faces - gothic or black letter : roman : italic : paper : paper manufacture
Aldus Manutius - Satyra, 1613Aldus Manutius - Satyra, 1613

Italic type-faces

The Italic type face also originated from the Roman type-faces first designed in Italy in the late 15th century. The Italic typefaces derived from some of the book hands which were developed to write more speedily, showing letters sloping and joined together.

The first printer to develop a type face based on these hands was a great scholar and printer Aldus Manutius (in Italian Aldo Manuzio). Aldus wished to print compact editions of classical texts and developed the Italic type-face as it retained clarity and regularity whilst permitting smaller sizes (or fonts) to be used, and the sloping characteristics of the hand also permitted more words to be fitted on a page.

The first book to be wholly printed with the Italic hand was his edition of the Works of the classical author Virgil, which he printed in 1501, the type face having been designed for him by Francesco Griffo. This revolutionary development enabled Aldus to sell a series of ‘pocket’ or portable editions of the classics, a commercial concept that is still popular in the 21st century. The Italic type face soon became popular and spread throughout Europe.

Image courtesy of University of Edinburgh Library - view details
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