Historic character sets

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Michael Schlierbach's picture
Joined: 8 Jan 2003 - 11:00am
Historic character sets

I'm searching for information on historic characters sets, that means: which characters were present at a certain time at a printers office - e.g. Hans Lufft in Wittenberg for the bible prints in the 16th century.

Information in this special details (based on a printers available set) would be fine,
but even a more generic table would help, e.g.
When did a versal (capital) U join the character set besides the capital V used for "U"?

I already did some research on this, but couldn't find any information online.

My interest results from a special case:

I'm interested in the Schwabacher which Hans Lufft used for the german bible prints between 1534 and 1545.
As far as I can see he hadn't a capital U ("rounded" form) but used everywhere capital V (as used at that time). On the other hand small u and v are present and used alternatively.
Looking on specimens I have available (e.g. Muzika, Die schöne Schrift) there isn't a capital U but "... T V W ...", but at the same time there seems to be U already in Fraktur.
In later specimens of Schwabacher U is present.

So there should be any information when certain glyphs were introduced into the character set of fonts.

I know an essay listing "The supply of types in the sixteenth century" by "A. F. Johnson", but it does only list the fonts a printer had available and doesn't mention nor show the character sets.

Maybe someone can help me to find out more.
Thanks in advance for every hint.

Michael Schlierbach

Nick Shinn's picture
Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am

Johnson, in One Hundred Title Pages, notes G.G. Trissino as being a proponent of Latin alphabet reform -- introducing the U and J to disambiguate from V and I (and also proposing "borrowing" omega to disambiguate long and short "o").

However, his Wiki page doesn't mention this aspect of his career.

This page is from 1529, with the types of Lodovico Vicentino.

It looks like, during the time that Trissino's reforms were making their way into general usage, printers would improvise, borrowing the "new" roman characters from Greek or Italic sorts. Or perhaps, as with a titling W, cobbling it together from a couple of Vs.

Michael Schlierbach's picture
Joined: 8 Jan 2003 - 11:00am

Wow, very interesting page. Thanks for the posting of this!

Apart from the fact, that they're different fonts in the titling line the omega really looks good, especially in the italic line (why didn't it succeed? maybe in these times as well as our times not always the best solutions are successful ;-) )

So Johnson seems to be am important person/researcher in these questions?