17th century greek types

From: Michael P. Burton (Michael.P.Burton@Dartmouth.EDU)
Date: Thu Feb 11 1999 - 09:29:46 EST

--- TonyProst@aol.com wrote:
Can anyone refer me to information regarding conventional ligatures in the
printing of Greek text during the 17th century?
--- end of quote ---

Great question! Reading early printed Greek is very difficult because of this
very thing. Aldus had his punchcutter Griffo cut hundreds of ligatures for each
of his four different typefaces. And most typefounders, including Garamond with
his "Grecs du Roi" continued the tradition.

The best source I have found is Stanley Morison's marvelous "John Fell, the
University Press and the 'Fell' Types: The Punches and Matrices Designed For
Printing in the Greek, Latin, English, and Oriental Languages Bequeathed in 1686
to the University of Oxford by John Fell, D. D." The great thing about this book
is it gives fonts lists alphabetically so you can really see the ligatures
separately. Then it's much easier to cross reference to something printed and
figure out the characters. "Fell Types" is expensive ($500) so you'll need to go
to a special collections library to see one, probably one that is Graphic
Arts/History of Printing oriented.

Fell's greeks were mostly cut by Robert Granjon and hence 16th century but types
had a long life in those days. Fell did a greek NT at Oxford with these types
but I haven't seen a copy.

Stephanus's (Robert Estienne) edition used the Grecs du Roi types.

A couple other books on the topic are

NICOLAS BARKER/ Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in
the Fifteenth Century

VICTOR SCHOLDERER/ Greek printing types 1465-1927: facsimiles from an exhibition
of books illustrating the development of Greek printing shown in the British
Museum 1927.

ROBERT PROCTOR/The Printing of Greek in the 15th Century

Though a couple of these are on earlier greek fonts, as I mentioned, they formed
the basis for the later ones. And of the three the only one with any font charts
is the Barker and they are not as extensive as Fell.


Mike Burton
Design & Production Director
University Press of New England

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