(Boston): David R. Godine, (2016),
First Edition. quarto, boards in dust jacket. 120 pp. David R. Godine, Item #25726
Roughly fifteen years after Gutenburg printed the first book in Maintz in 1455, Nicolas Jenson of Venice produced what has been universally recognized as among the most beautiful typefaces ever created. Based on the humanistic calligraphy of the Renaissance, an even and infinitely various set of lowercase letters that had evolved from the Carolingian miniscules of the ninth century, Jenson’s types were a miracle of proportion and evenness of color. In the late nineteenth century, it was imitated by Morris in his Golden type of 1891 (far too heavy), and in the next by Cobden-Sanderson with his Doves type, Goudy with his Deepdene and Hunter Middleton with his Eusebius.But it was really not until Bruce Rogers,—following his stint at the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he first attempted a version of the type in his Montaigne font—tackled the challenge of creating a roman equal to (and in some ways surpassing) the Jenson original. The proof of his success is that it has been used, and held in high esteem, ever since. The story behind the type, the many permutations through which it went, the myths that accrued and surrounded it (many based on Roger’s somewhat erratic and chimerical memory) are all exposed in this fully documented account of the type’s genesis and development. All the variations are included, from the 16 pt. roman originally designed for the exclusive use of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to its conversion to the monotype machine under the supervision of Stanley Morison, and its ultimate appearance as a digital face. Included as well is a full discussion of the Arrighi italic, developed to accompany the roman by Frederic Warde and Stanley Morison at the Monotype Corporation. Often and justly called “the noblest roman of them all,” the book has been designed and set in a digital version especially created by Jerry Kelly who, along with co-author Misha Beletsky, have unearthed, mined, and refined a trove of typographic history to create the definitive history of what many consider the most beautiful typeface created by an American in the last century and used, to immortal effect, in two of the century’s greatest books, T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom and the Oxford Lecturn Bible. Illustrated with many examples in full color, with a dust jacket printed letterpress, issued in an edition of only 1000 copies, this is a book no certified member of the lunatic fringe of type fanatics can afford to ignore. New.