Type Spaces, in-house norms in the typography of Aldus Manutius


Burnhill, Peter:


Hyphen Press, London. 2003. 143 pages. 8vo. Stiff paper wrappers. Specimens, letter forms, diagrams and samples. Nice copy.
The books of Aldus Manutius possess an enduring appeal, for their sense of order and visual-semantic structure. After intensive examination of some Aldine books, Burnhill proposes a hypothesis about the co-ordination of the dimensions in type in this printing. It seems that a system of typographic measurement informed this work, two hundred years before such a system was made explicit in printing. Peter Burnhill argues that there was a moment when the exceptional figures of the publisher Aldus Manutius and his punchcutter, Francesco Griffo, could use a set of ‘in-house norms’. The evidence is presented in a set of annotated enlargements of pages from Aldine books. This system of unified measurement has a rationality that can apply to any process of character assembly, in any age, and with any system of production.


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