Rare Book School

RBS Home | Course Schedule | Admissions | myRBS | Support RBS | Contact RBS | Previous Years

T-10. Introduction to the History of Typography

Stanley Nelson

A survey of European and American typographic history from 1450 to the present, but concentrating on the period 1480-1950. Topics will include: the development of Roman and italic; from Old Style to Transitional to Modern (Italian, French, Dutch, and English developments); display types; the coming of machine composition and the historic revivals; typeface nomenclature; and techniques for dating pre-1885 hand-set typefaces and for naming post-1885 machine-set typefaces. Students will see demonstrations of punchcutting and typefounding on a hand type mold. In laboratory sessions, they will set type by hand, proof their work, and print on a reproduction wood common press.

This course is aimed at those with little or no previous formal exposure to the history of typography. Its aim is to enable students to put almost any piece of material printed in Roman or italic type between 1500 and 1950 into historical perspective.

Course Resources

Course History

2003

Stanley Nelson teaches this course for the first time.