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Early Sixteenth-Century Parisian Roman Types

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to describe exhaustively the Roman types, appearing in Paris during the first three decades of the sixteenth century and totalling up to fifty-one typefaces. Some of them originated in the fifteenth century. Most were made locally. The chapter addresses three main points. First, it describes the coming-of-age of Parisian typography, illustrating how changing patterns of reading habits led Parisian typographers to invest substantially into designing and cutting new types à l’antique. Second, the struggle between two models of type procurement, viz. individual ownership of punches and matrices vs. concentration in and commercialization through typefoundries. Third, there is the tantalizing problem of identifying the punchcutters involved. It remains disheartening, though, that at the end of this inquiry one is unable to suggest any name of a punchcutter who could reasonably be linked to the celebrated Roman types which Robert I Estienne introduced in 1530.

Keywords: Parisian typography; punchcutters; Roman typefaces; sixteenth century



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