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I’m looking for information about the history of the Dagger-Sign
I believe the symbols origin is a sign for death. It was marked on coﬃns. I think. A current use is to mark that a person is deceased — in a body of text. If anyone has a copy of E.T.S. handy ( mine is at home ) I am sure there is a section on it. If no one comments further I will provide more info tonight. -smc
Accidental double post.
I have read E.T.S. (you mean Bringhurst?). But it’s not quite detailed. I think in the later use the confusion or double signing dagger/cross is of course there, as today, and in the following the use as a cross and sign of death or religious things. But the early term “obelisk” doesn’t seem to reference to the cross as a religious symbol. “asterisks and obelisks” has been a term for pro and contra in theological scientiﬁc dicussions in the 16th century (Martin Luther vs. Johannes Eck). And it results from the signs used in the (biblical) text for marking marginals. In this context it doesn’t make sense if dagger/obelisk=cross because asterisk and obelisk should be on the same level. So my question is about the early development, the form, use and understanding of the sign. Maybe there is any evidence for clarifying its ﬁrst meaning — or even its double meaning from the beginning. Michael
Michael, According to my Oxford English Dictionary, the obelisk was originally used in ancient manuscripts “to point out a spurious, corrupt, or doubtful word or passage.” Matha.
Perhaps this will help, perhaps not.
The division sign was[ circa 1659]... known either as the obelus or sometimes the obelisk, from a Greek word meaning a roasting spit. The idea seems to have been that such dubious matter was thrust through, as with a spit; the word is the same as that for a tapering pillar, another object with a pointed end. Confusingly, the word obelus was later used for the printer
Matha, sean: thank you! interesting info! There seem to be a lot of implications. But most of them come from a later view (especially those connections to paganism). To me it seems that the pointer root (or roasting spit — nice!) is the most early. It makes the most sense, for with a pointer you can optically point out best those spurious or interesting passages within a text. This would imply that ﬁrst there was no reference to religious symbols may it be the cross or any other. And as far as I know those theologians (I myself studied protestant theology), they were much more rational and functional in their work. Maybe they didn’t have a cross or something like that in mind. Otherwise — I think — there should have been some reﬂection on this use of a symbol. Very interesting for me: Those mathematics-use. But I’d like to trace it to the ground: Does any of you know early manuscripts or prints with the dagger where its form and meaning can be seen? Michael
Michael, try to get your hands on “Pause and Eﬀect” by M B Parkes — it has gobs on the history of punctuation marks. I had a copy from a library, but no longer. hhp
Hrant, thank you. I immediately tried to ﬁnd it, but I didn’t succeed: Not abebooks, nor amazon, nor german-european used books site gave me any reference to Parkes :-( Do you know any special site to look there? Stephen, thats a very interesting thread. I didn’t know it before. Thank you for leading me there. Maybe I’m wrong, but I like to dig out a natural understanding and use of that symbol. I think it’s much more nice, humanistic and feeding visual competence to use asterisk, dagger, double-dagger and pilcrow for marking marginals and similar things in some cases, than those always boring numbers, who always remind of scientiﬁc essays. But with (mis-)understanding the dagger as a cross, its use is reduced to a few things. Michael
If bookﬁnder.com can’t locate a copy, it’s pretty bad… Your best bet is a good university library — you might need to do an Inter-Library Loan request. hhp
The obelus or dagger is still used in scholarly editions of classical texts to mark passages that are seriously corrupt. David
There are some interesting things going on here, asterisks mark a beginning, birth, alfa and daggers an ending, a death, omega. Maybe the Alfa/Omega thing is coincidental. Does anyone know when the dagger ﬁrst appeared? I don’t agree with interpreting Egyptian obelisks as purely phallic, Obelisks are meant to be ‘solidiﬁed rays of sunlight’.
Here is what I’ve found scanning my fonts: Caslon 14, Centaur /italic, Electra Kinesis, New Baskerville, Nicolas Cochin Quadraat, Carol, Savoy oops, looks dangerous Michael
That’s it! I’m not entering the ﬁeld of typography. Looks too
Ha Ha! Do not forget about the sex though. It is all about the sex and violence. -smc
Heler’s essay is hilarious, thanks for the link. Any other aspects of type (besides sex and violence) I should be aware of? Anyway, back to the topic!
Heller’s essay is hilarious, thanks for the link. Any other aspects of type (besides sex and violence) I should be aware of? Anyway, back to the topic!
Sex, violence and endless hours of kerning and spacing.
but not necesarily in that order.
Daggers were discussed at Typographica last June.
Can anyone recommend more beautiful daggers please?
Beaufort, Fontesque, Merlin, Oneleigh, Scotch Modern
I use footnote-sized daggers all the time but never looked at them enlarged like that. Wow, some of them are amazing.
Thanks Nick, appreciate it. I love the Scotch Modern!
Does anyone know any daggers with a more rapier/sword feel to them?
Also...are there any sans-serifs with unusual daggers and not the standard christian cross!?
Sounds like you should be making some yourself! :-)
Let's see someone put something like this into their dagger glyph... ...hee hee!
From the font I'm developing:
Love the Fontesque one! :-)
>not the standard christian cross!?
Not a sans, but here is the one from Williams Caslon Text Regular, which for some reason looks less like a Christian cross :)
Here is the dagger and double dagger from Malabar… . The dagger is based ever so vaguely on one of Charles Martel's swords, since the typeface's working name at Reading was Martel.
Nina, won't you show off yours?
Ah, dagger time again!
(These are from the typeface I'm working on [a monoline slab, yet unreleased].
I figured it might be interesting / potentially useful to continue the series and make a triple-dagger too.)
Some other nice/cool/interesting daggers:
Hoefler Text, Prensa, and RTF Loxley.