The books of Aldus Manutius possess an enduring appeal, for their sense of order and visual-semantic structure. After intensive examination of some Aldine books, Burnhill proposes a hypothesis about the co-ordination of the dimensions in type in this printing. It seems that a system of typographic measurement informed this work, two hundred years before such a system was made explicit in printing.
|availability||out of print|
|dimensions||240 × 170 mm|
How is type to be measured? This innocent question has bedevilled the activity of making typefaces and setting characters to make lines of text. In the days of industrialized metal typography, we thought we had some clear answers. But now that type has no material form, those apparent certainties have gone.
In a work of fresh investigation, Peter Burnhill takes a very close look at some books of the early sixteenth century, and comes up with the surprising suggestion that this printing shows a unified system of dimensions: of character size, of line-increment, of line length, and of text area. He argues that there was a moment when the exceptional figures of the publisher Aldus Manutius and his punchcutter, Francesco Griffo, could use a set of ‘in-house norms’. The evidence is presented in a set of annotated enlargements of pages from Aldine books. This system of unified measurement has a rationality that can apply to any process of character assembly, in any age, and with any system of production.