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Type Spaces: In-house Norms in the Typography of Aldus Manutius Paperback – 15 Oct 2008

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x964b55f4) out of 5 stars 1 review
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x965835dc) out of 5 stars A detailed study, and details of how to study. 18 Dec. 2004
By wiredweird - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lots of well-known type designers have done revivals of traditional fonts. Good designers spend immense amounts of time studying the originals before rendering them anew. The beginning designer hears all that but never quite hears: just what is it they study?

This is a detailed examination of the printed texts of Aldus Manutius, one of the Renaissance founders of typography. Burnhill has gone back to the original sources, all there in black and white, to understand the thinking, the art, and the technology of those early printers. I was surprised that Burnhill pays a lot more attention to the white than the black - his main interest is in the spacing rather than the letterforms themselves.

For me, the real surprise was in the technology. Eli Whitney is often credited with the development of standardized parts in a weapons contract around 1800. That completely ignores what was already common practice by European print shops 300 years earlier. Although shops differed, each one was built around an elaborately standardized set of movable type sorts, casting molds, matrices, punches, and frames for holding type to be printed. Measurements had to be precise, repeatable, and common across huge investments in tools and equipment. They also had to meet the esthetic requirements of the typographers and wealthy book-buyers, while making the most of expensive hand-made paper.

This book will fascinate serious students of type or of western technology. One could ask for better printing - although nicely laid out, photographic reproductions are crude and barely adequate for illustrating they points they need to make. They are adequate, though, and keep the costs down in producing this low-volume academic treatise.

The right reader will find this book immediately useful and endlessly fascinating. Others, I'm afraid, will treat it as an inexplicable curiousity. I hope you like it the way I do.

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