When did people start to name their typeface in the colophon?

lindenhayn's picture

I was wondering when it became a custom to include the name of the book's typeface in the colophon... I can't remember seeing a book from pre-WW1 in which the typeface was named -- which is no surprise considering that the variety of available faces wasn't as wide as it is today, and people would call their faces things like "Gewöhnliche Antiqua" (plain roman).

The oldest book I've seen doing this is from the (late?) twenties, IIRC, so my initial idea was that there might be a correlation with the paradigm shift(s) in typography (Morris, later on Tschichold). But even that seems like an exception to me; it looks more like a post-WW2 thing, but I'm not sure though, and the answer might depend on what parts of the world we're talking about. I could imagine, for example, the Kelmscott Press people did it, too...

-- Nils.

oldnick's picture

Wikipedia's entry on the subject appears to be thorough and well-documented.

eliason's picture

Some earlier discussion here, too:

Si_Daniels's picture


dan_reynolds's picture

> 1582

Woah! And I was going to say 1457…

quadibloc's picture

But first, typefaces had to have names.

riccard0's picture

But first, faces had to be type.

lindenhayn's picture

> But first, typefaces had to have names.

yea, that's what came to my mind a while after I posted my question...

so many faces, so few names.

lindenhayn's picture

> Some earlier discussion here, too:
> http://www.typophile.com/node/60136

thanks Craig, for mentioning (and reviving) that thread! Some great colophons there, plus I learned that in English (unlike in some other languages) a colophon is not the same as the imprint, and that in English, the imprint is not part of the front matter (according to Wikipedia), whereas, for example, in German typography, it definitely is.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Afraid I don't have my sources with me and my memory's hazy, but Aldus Manutius did describe the use of Griffo's new italic font in books ca. 1500, as did the printer for whom Griffo created another italic after he left the Aldine press. Perhaps, though, this is considered prefatory material rather than a colophon, and it certainly wasn't in the modern syntax (e.g., "This book was set in Francesco Griffo's small pica cancellaresca at the Aldine Press"). Still, these were printed notices of the type used.

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